Octopus Energy for Business has launched two new tariffs designed to grow the vertical farming industry.
Vertical farming is the practice of producing food and medicine in vertically stacked layers, vertically inclined surfaces and/or integrated in other structures.
According to Octopus the farming method can increase output x100 and reduce food mileage.
The company claims the Vertical Power tariffs “pave the way” for agritech businesses and control-environment farms to bring down energy costs and reduce their environmental impact.
The two new tariffs are:
- Vertical Power Tri
This tariff avoids peak pricing between 4pm and 7pm. It delivers the “most efficient savings” when compared against adoption of technologies and changes to farming operations. It provides up to “8 per cent saving annually versus cheapest Economy 7 tariff”.
- Vertical Power Agile
When combined with automation, this tariff allows a vertical farm to scale up or reduce energy usage depending on the cost of energy at half-hour granularity. Savings are dependent on site flexibility and crop type, but Octopus says models show this could unlock savings of up to 12 per cent.
Zoisa Walton, director of Octopus Energy for Business, said: “The global farming industry needs to innovate to support a growing population and a planet under threat.
“Octopus Energy for Business is determined to ensure that vertical farms are supported in the UK.
“The fact that energy costs account for up to 40 per cent of vertical farms’ overheads presented a problem – and we developed the Vertical Power tariff specifically to make the sector more efficient.
“Here’s to supporting budding vertical farmers and laying the foundation for a greener future in the UK.”
Meanwhile a National Drought Group (NDG) meeting convened on 4 June to review water resources ahead of summer, following a dry winter and spring which has affected river flows and groundwater levels.
Lower than average rainfall, continuing through April and May – particularly in the East of England – has seen some river flows decline to lower than normal for the time of year. In the south and east, rainfall has not replenished groundwater stores, with levels now declining. “While there is no threat to public water supply, these conditions are putting particular pressure on the environment and agriculture,” the group said.
Farmers in East Anglia, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire have reported they are facing significant pressures with irrigation. Environment Agency monitoring has shown a decline in water available so there were discussions about how the water companies and the Environment Agency can help farmers during the growing season, particularly in the east of England.
Environment Agency chief executive, Sir James Bevan met with government departments, the Met Office, National Farmers Union (NFU) and water company CEOs to agree the action needed to support farmers and wildlife as well as conserve water supplies if the dry weather persists.
The NFU urged farmers to consider how they could be affected by running out of water and to make plans, where possible, to manage water shortages. The EA set out a number of steps it has taken to support farmers including:
- Allowing farmers to flex abstraction licence conditions to take more water, wherever this can be done without damaging the environment, in order to safeguard food production and animal welfare. So far in 2019, the EA has approved 90 per cent of requests.
- Extending the licence trading map from East Anglia to Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, East Midlands and West Midlands, to help abstractors look for opportunities to access other abstractors’ unused water
- Working with the NFU, CLA and AHDB to hold advice sessions for farmers since January 2019.
Sir James Bevan said: “Ahead of the summer months, the National Drought Group met to agree action to reduce the risk of drought measures and damage to the environment.
“Some rivers and groundwater supplies are below average so the Environment Agency is ready to respond to incidents over the summer and we are supporting farmers where possible by flexing water abstraction licences and with water trading. We welcome action the water companies are taking to ensure maintenance of supply over the coming months.”