Jack Griffin, president of Metropolis Farms, unveiled a new breakthrough in lighting technology for the emerging indoor vertical agriculture industry at the Indoor Ag Con Philly conference in Philadelphia. The Oct. 16 event was sponsored by NewBean Capital.
Griffin presented during the conference’s concluding session, joined by panelists Russel Redding, Pennsylvania’s secretary of agriculture, and R. Delbert LeTang, chairman and CEO of financial firm SG Preston. LeTang called Metropolis Farms’ technology platform “as advanced and impressive” as he’d seen in 20 years of experience. Their session was entitled “How technology changes indoor agriculture business models.”
At the conference Griffin demonstrated a prototype of his new adaptive lighting technology, OneBallast, which allows a 315 watt bulb to operate at 110 watts, representing a more than 60 percent reduction in energy use. This technology enables one lighting ballast to be used where up to eight are needed in conventional lighting, according to Metropolis Farms. The reduction in wattage also controls heat and thus energy used for ambient temperature control in the growing facilities.
The performance of Metropolis Farms latest technology has been evaluated and validated by a lighting laboratory at a major U.S. engineering school with the results certified by a CPA firm. OneBallast works with all bulbs, including LED. Overall, Metropolis Farms has more than 20 patents pending and filed.
“This technology completely revolutionizes the economics of indoor farming,” said Griffin, “It’s a total game changer and is the key to growing flowering plants economically on a commercial scale.” Griffin indicated that manufacturing of OneBallast will begin in 2018, centered in Philadelphia, and that the technology will be made available to advance the entire industry.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a combined total of 279 billion kilowatt hours of electricity were used residentially and commercially for lighting in the U.S. last year. That amounts to a full 7 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption.