“Up to 80% of a vertical farm’s operational costs are related to electricity used for running artificial lights. I think that the current state of the art indoor lights on the market have very poor efficiency that results in high operations costs, making indoor farms unprofitable," Prashanth Makaram, Co-founder & CEO of Crocus Labs says.
Berlin-based Crocus labs GmbH, a smart lighting manufacturer for the horticulture and indoor farming market. He adds: "Our smart lighting solutions have >50% wall-plug efficiency thus we're bringing down the operational costs significantly. As lighting is one of the most important elements we are aiming to make indoor farms to become profitable and sustainable."
The company has developed a novel ultra-high-efficiency lighting solution. "Most LED-based horticulture lighting systems have 20-30% wall-plug efficiency. This means only 20-30% of the input electricity is converted to useful energy and the rest is dissipated as heat, which also has to be removed," Prashanth affirms.
The lighting systems can yield wall plug efficiency of 40-50%, and 70% in the long run. Crocus labs gets these figures through a mixture of innovation at LED modules, sensor systems and data analysis. That’s how Crocus labs is able to manufacture these ultra-high-efficiency lighting systems.
"Focusing on the PAR spectrum and DLI goes hand in hand. The costs are so high in vertical farming that the only focus is laid on leafy greens. However, this will not be the solution for feeding the future as there’s more need for diversity. Selling microgreens will be a great concept for high-end restaurants, but this will also not solve the problems on food insecurity," says Prashanth.
Crocus labs offers high-efficacy full spectrum lights that mimics sunlight. According to Prashanth most horticulture lighting systems focus on blue and red lights that are crucial for the photosynthesis process. However, other spectrums are needed for things such as flavor and aroma. Crocus labs has a full package that includes the entire PAR spectrum and can be tuned as per the plant requirement.
"We're planning to provide sensor systems and analytics for monitoring and controlling." The software components can easily be connected to existing central computer programs that are being used by indoor farms. These software components will allow, for example changing of light intensity and spectrum as preferred. "This means, when a grower wants to grow strawberries and tomatoes the other day, Crocus labs can make that happen through these software components," Prashanth says.