Construction on this unique, sustainable complex began on 1 December 2014. Sundrop Farms is situated in South Australia, some 12 kilometres south of Port Augusta. This is absolutely the first of its kind: a greenhouse with climate control and a fully integrated solar energy system that generates electricity and provides desalinated water with a high degree of purity.
One of the most important aspects of this project is the heating system driven by solar energy, with two heat storage tanks, that enables 720,000 tomato plants to survive the winter. It is a major project, both technically and physically. The complex covers some 55 hectares: 20 hectares of greenhouses, 15 hectares of outbuildings, plus 20 hectares of collectors for thermic solar energy.
Van der Hoeven’s part in this exceptional project
The complex consists of four identical blocks, each of five hectares, which are connected via a corridor. This corridor is also equipped with the ModulAIR climate system. In total, Van der Hoeven supplied:
- four greenhouses, each covering five hectares, with screen system and cultivation gutters
- the ModulAIR climate system
- the heating system
- two heat storage tanks (22,000 m³ and 6,000 m³), integrated into the system for thermic solar energy
- the water and electrotechnical systems
- the logistics system for internal transport and processing of the products
Evaporative cooling with sea water
What is unique about the ModulAIR climate system at Sundrop, is that the (adiabatic) cooling occurs with sea water rather than fresh water. The four greenhouses are run entirely independently of one another in terms of climate control and irrigation. In the future, this will enable different crops to be grown in the different greenhouses. The greenhouses have an integrated solar energy system which, on the basis of sunlight and sea water, takes care of the necessary heating, electricity supply and fresh water provision.
The largest buffer tank in the horticulture sector, and more interesting details
A crucial component of the solar energy system is the 22,000 m³ buffer tank for the storage of high grade heat, which is necessary for the desalination process. This buffer tank – currently the largest buffer tank in the entire horticulture industry – was supplied by Van der Hoeven and built by F&H Crone. The low grade residual heat is stored in a second buffer tank of 6,000 m³. This residual heat covers the heating requirements of the greenhouse complex. In view of the high standards of the solar energy system, both buffer tanks have, in collaboration with F&H Crone, been built fully in line with the requirements of the EN14015 standard.
15% of all the tomatoes in Australia
The massive complex in Port Augusta produces some 17 kilotons of tomatoes each year. That is approximately 15% of all the tomatoes in Australia. The agricultural company provides around 200 jobs in South Australia, an area with a real need for job opportunities in the local area.