Adrienne Bernhard

A model of Aerofarms' interior growing room. Photo via Aerofarms

Seven years ago, Lars Aikala visited a cucumber greenhouse in a tiny hamlet in Finland. Farmers there told him they spent $12,000 a day on artificial light for their crops—an astounding figure that didn’t take into account expenses such as pesticides, production waste or transportation costs. Aikala, whose background is in wind power and air purification, puzzled over this problem: the greenhouse had almost no exposure to natural sunlight for six months of the year. Artificial light, which has a higher light intensity than natural light, meant a higher overall thermal load that needed to be cooled—an expensive and inefficient process.

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