Heat recovery cooling and heating for world’s largest ‘vertical farm’

A new vertical farm in Lydney, Gloucestershire is cutting carbon thanks to the use of air-cooled scroll chillers which use heat recovery to reduce energy.

The farm, operated by Jones Food Company, offers 148,000 square feet of growing space for stacking crops 15 layers high, and is expected to supply 1,000 tonnes of fresh produce a year to UK supermarkets.

The four Carrier AquaSnap 30RBP air-cooled scroll chillers are providing 2.1MW of cooling, with chilled water at 6 deg C. They were installed by contractor Brooktherm Refrigeration, which was tasked with providing HVAC capable of delivering a constant supply of efficient heating and cooling to the pressurised warehouse. The chillers use the refrigerant R32, which has a low Global Warming Potential and have a heat recovery system that enables waste heat to be captured and used for various heating applications on site, saving energy, the firm says.

Ben Doherty, Projects Coordinator at Brooktherm Refrigeration said: “One of the key challenges was the requirement to achieve four different temperature and humidity set points…As well as chillers, we installed four air handling units, hot and cold water tanks, pipe work and valves in two plants and have since been awarded contracts for three other rooms on site – a chill store, a process area and a fresh air upgrade.”

The chillers operate from -10 deg C up to 48 deg C, and come with Carrier’s proprietary Greenspeed intelligence variable-speed pumps, which can reduce pumping energy consumption by up to two-thirds, the company says.

James Lloyd-Jones, chief executive of Jones Food Company said: “With our new facility, we are further accelerating Britain’s position as a world-leader when it comes to vertical farming. We already supply thousands of British retail stores with basil grown in our first facility in Lincolnshire, but our Lydney site is three times bigger and will allow us to supply a greater range to more stores.”

Paul Hill, regional sales manager for Carrier UK said: “The HVAC plant was fully commissioned summer of 2023, and by October the entire growing area was fully planted, allowing the operator to harvest a tonne in weight of basil and leafy greens every 19 days.”