Can it help us meet our growing food demand?
I'm very conflicted regarding vertical farming. As you describe, the promise is real and the technology could be a serious step forward in alleviating food insecurity. Also, vertical farming can be done in food deserts such as inner-city neighborhoods which might lack access to green vegetables otherwise.
On the other hand, vertical farming is resource-intensive; you mentioned energy costs, but there's quite a lot of hardware involved as well. What I would like to see is a return to normalcy of the suburban vegetable garden - think of all the space used / wasted in front yards, highway shoulders, and office parks devoted to nothing but grass. Why are these places not used to grow vegetable crops? If such were done, the vegetables would be close to urban markets, yet the operations would not use the enormous amounts of electricity you describe. Perhaps both approaches could be used.
I'm also excited about research into GMO crops which would thrive in adverse environments - recently I heard of a plant that was being tested for crop production in very saline soils (can't remember where I heard about it though!) Plenty to watch in this space.
There is a way to save on electricity with the help of mirrors. I saw an enormous tomato plant grown underground with no lighting except for a series of mirrors bringing in daylight. Thanks for the interesting article.
Excellent article and good to know that there is some development going on in relation to both output and input
Fantastic article. We have the solutions to the world's problems - we just need a broader appetite (pardon the pun) to bring them into being.
These sound like promising alternatives for some crops. Perhaps solar power could help with some of the energy needs. I like William’s idea of suburban gardens. Even urban dwellers could grow some food in empty lots. Or even in pots.