Controlled Environment Agriculture Online


12th Apr 2023



Controlled Environment Agriculture Online

Energy price crisis on vertical farming: Where do we stand?

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Vertical farms have been seen as a solution to many environmental issues in food production. Enabling controlled inputs and protection from the outside environment, these facilities can be constructed even in the most extreme environments.

Since late 2022, the fast-growing indoor farming industry has been facing some growing pains following the significant dramatic increases in energy prices. This unprecedented situation has forced vertical farming companies to take difficult decisions such as laying off staff, delaying farm construction, as well as mothballing facilities. The energy price shock means that companies have had no option but to revisit their business model and reconsider their energy consumption as margins narrow.

Despite the turbulence, indoor vertical farming is still a very promising way of producing food in terms of efficiency, resiliency, and sustainability. However, it is essential to find ways to minimize energy costs to control the environment and ensure that the crops continue to grow in ideal conditions.

Join this panel discussion to explore how the increased rising energy costs are impacting the vertical farming industry and find out how businesses can move forward economically and efficiently in this challenging situation.

Date: April 12, 2023 (Wednesday)
Time: New York 10:00 | London 15:00 | Paris 16:00 | Singapore 22:00 | Sydney 00:00 (April 13)
Duration: 60 minutes
Event structure: Panel discussion  
Registration fee: Complimentary access
Webinar on-demand: Available (registration is required)

Key Discussion Areas

  • Understanding the impact of the current trends of energy prices on the CEA economics and long-term business strategy
  • Exploring the energy-driven solutions and the impact on pricing short-term and long term
  • Forming the right structure at the right place – i.e., re-analysing operational costs, etc.

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Panel Members:

Paul PG Gauthier, Professor of Protected Cropping, The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, The University of Queensland, Australia

Professor Gauthier is one of the world’s experts in vertical farming and protected cropping and has many years of experience both in academia and the industry managing research teams. He recently joined The University of Queensland institute – Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) with the intention of shaping the future of farming in Queensland, Australia, and the world. Prof Gauthier obtained a Ph.D. in plant physiology from the University of Paris Sud, France, and worked at The Australian National University, Australia. Professor was a pioneer studying vertical farming at Princeton University, USA, focusing on understanding the sustainability of vertical farms both economically and environmentally. For years, Prof Gauthier has advised start-ups and universities on the development of vertical farming and the opportunities within. Prof Gauthier was also the Chief Science Officer and co-founder of Kêr Farms, an indoor vertical farm in the United States, and more recently, he was Director of Research and Development at Bowery Farming developing New Products.
Gary Grinspan

Erika Parente, VP of Operations, Cultivatd, Canada

With expertise in resource management and internal operations developed through a career in IT consulting, government relations, and non-profit organizations – Erika’s passion for sustainable food systems and innovative technology led her to join the indoor farming industry.
Based on her rapid service development, formalization, and ongoing operational success of Cultivatd’s flourishing Farming-as-a-Service (FaaS) business division, Erika was recently promoted to Vice-President of Operations for Cultivatd and continues to drive the company’s global growth strategy across a diverse team. With a deep knowledge of vertical farming technology, operations, and ways to navigate the agtech business landscape at any scale, Erika has also become a recognized and talented moderator, host, and panelist on live, in-person, and virtual events advocating for the industry and indoor farming opportunities for all.

Jim Pantaleo (Moderator) Business Development Coordinator, AI Institute for Next Generation Food Systems, USA

Jim Pantaleo is the Business Development Coordinator at the USDA-funded Artificial Intelligence Institute for Next Generation Food Systems on the campus of UC Davis. Prior to this role, Jim was a pioneer in indoor vertical farming for food production as the former General Manager of the landmark indoor vertical farm, Urban Produce, Southern California’s first large-scale commercial indoor vertical farm. He later worked with Sananbio’s advanced indoor vertical farm in Las Vegas (Oasis Biotech). As VP of Strategic Business Development, his work included engagement with universities, government, biopharma, and seed trials with Bayer. An industry evangelist, he has hosted several international conferences, is a speaker, and has written extensively about indoor vertical farming. Jim is the host of the annual conference, Indoor Ag Con. Jim spent 20 years in technology, a majority with Hewlett Packard, and holds a degree in International Relations from San Francisco State University.

Dr. Nadia Sabeh, Founder and President, Dr. Greenhouse Inc., USA

Dr. Nadia Sabeh, PE, LEED AP is President and Founder of Dr. Greenhouse, Inc., an agriculture and mechanical engineering firm specializing in the design of HVAC systems for indoor plant environments. Dr. Sabeh is focused on helping indoor farmers control their environments to grow crops in locations that, previously, would have been impossible or impractical to do so. She and her team have designed high-performance HVAC systems for plant-focused facilities across North America, Canada, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Dr. Sabeh Co-Chaired the development of the ASABE/ASHRAE co-sponsored Engineering Practice “EP653 HVAC for Indoor Plant Environments without Sunlight” and is a collaborator with OptimIA, USDA-funded research to improve the productivity and profitability of indoor farming. She hosts the CEA-focused podcast, “The Doctor Is In.” Dr. Sabeh received her Ph.D. in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Arizona and is a Mechanical Engineer licensed in several states.

Alex Rudnicki, Director of Engineering and Construction, Aerofarms

Alex was the first engineering hire for AeroFarms in 2013 and in the past decade has helped expand the company’s capabilities in engineering, construction, operations, automation, and sustainability. Currently the Sr. Director of Engineering & Construction, Alex also gained valuable operational experience as the Plant Manager of AeroFarms’ first two commercial facilities in Newark, NJ. Within the past year, he helped oversee the development and startup of two new plants: a three-acre, automated Virginia commercial farm, and a high-precision research facility in Abu Dhabi.

His interest in alternate means of farming goes beyond AeroFarms: in 2018 Alex helped an NYC council member introduce legislation meant to strengthen community gardens in the city. He’s led city-wide townhall events on the subject and protested the closure of community gardens. He holds degrees from Columbia University: MPA in Environmental Science & Public Policy, and MS in Civil/Mechanical Engineering.


The meeting is free to attend
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For further details please contact
Gavin Hambrook
Telephone +44 (0) 7538 368 764 or
email [email protected]

Reuben Raj
Telephone: +603 2731 9335 or
email [email protected]