Urban vertical farming with a large wind power share and optimised electricity costs

Vahid Arabzadeh*, Panu Miettinen, Titta Kotilainen, Pasi Herranen, Alp Karakoc, Matti Kummu, Lauri Rautkari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
127 Downloads (Pure)


Producing food in an environmentally sustainable way for the growing human population is a challenge to the global food system. Vertical farm (VF) as a part of the solution portfolio is attracting interest since it uses less water, pesticides, and land which are scarce in many parts of the globe. Despite these positive factors, the energy demand for vertical farms is high, and farms often remain separate and excluded from cities where most of the population lives. City-level energy system solutions exist to empower energy efficiency and increase the share of variable renewable energy sources, but their potential has not yet been estimated for an urban energy system that includes large vertical farms. Accordingly, in this study, we simulate an urban energy system that practices vertical farming with large-scale variable renewable energies and flexibility measures. For the first part of the study, we modelled a vertical farm's energy system with demand response control to maximize electricity cost savings. To evaluate the potential of demand response, the analysis is carried out for different crops (lettuce, wheat, and soybean), and different electricity price profiles. The result of demand response control can be a reduction of 5% to 30% in electricity consumption costs. Further, sensitivity analyses highlight the effect of electricity price variations and photoperiod on demand response outcomes. In the second part, the operation of an urban energy system (Helsinki, Finland) with vertical farms was analysed through two different scenarios. These scenarios represent the emission-free Helsinki energy system in 2050 with large-scale wind power implementation. As VFs can use electricity outside the peak demand hours, the inclusion of VF with the right energy system configuration can improve the power consumption within the system by up to 19%. Further, we show that connection to the exogenous power market is important to support vertical farming in the future energy systems. In this study, key points in the integration of VF in urban energy systems are highlighted, including the role of exogenous power markets, the potential for increasing local energy consumption with large wind power, and the importance of crop selection in reducing VF's energy costs through demand response. In a city-level solution with a high wind power share, we thus recommend including a vertical farm side by strong sectoral coupling as part of the future design to maximise local consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120416
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Energy
Early online date1 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • CO emissions
  • Demand response
  • Electricity price
  • Urban energy system
  • Vertical farming
  • Wind power


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