Smart Renewable Energy Allocation and Consumption in an Off-Grid Vertical Farming System
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Current electrical generation techniques are designed for fossil-fueled power plants and do not lend themselves for implementation with renewable solar energy sources as they rely on proper weather conditions. Vertical farming systems are an innovative farming technique that could solve world food shortages and improve food security by consistently producing food. However, they are generally energy intensive. Using off-grid renewable energy sources makes these systems more affordable and provides the flexibility to place them in areas that lack utilities and infrastructure. The challenge for off-grid renewable energy generation systems is their performance correlation with weather conditions and lack of consistency in energy generation. This paper proposes a smart system that combines renewable energy generation and vertical farming in an off-grid system. Inspired by a plant’s natural ability to adapt to its surroundings, energy usage is tailored to fit the power production schedule of a renewable energy source. The system allocates energy and prioritizes the activation of subsystems and instruments based on their overall priority as well as the current and future needs of the system. A theoretical system was successfully modelled off of historical weather data. The maximum number of plants that could grow each season was calculated using a correlation between weather conditions and energy generation. These results were then used to create a physical system that successfully adapted to changing weather conditions without causing a power outage. Finally, it was proven that excess energy could be stored in the form of a thermal battery in the system.