Solar powered floating farms: the new means of global food production?

Jul 30, 2016 by


While the sharp growth in global population that continues to occur in the 21st Century is an indicator of many technological, economical and medical advancements our civilization has made, it presents quite a few challenges that will only grow in coming years. The largest of these? Producing enough food to feed a population that is predicted to exceed 9 billion by 2050.

But one viable, creative solution is already floating around thanks to Barcelona-based design firm Forward Thinking Architecture. The company proposes that we make use of Earth’s oceans as a means of harbouring the farms of the future.


A fully automated, self-sustainable system

The company’s Smart Floating Systems (SFF) are designed to be smart and fully automated to make use of technological advancements in areas such as solar-power, aquaculture and hydroponics to grow food and support both the economy and the environment.

The systems would be installed in bodies of water near to areas of demand to reduce our economy’s reliance on costly, harmful shipping and transportation methods.


Innovative design

The project’s design is inspired by existing floating fish farms in Asia, from which Forward Thinking Architecture took design cues for the panels that make up the floating farm. Each panel measures 200 meters by 350 meters and can be joined with other panels to create larger clusters of floating farms, complete with walkways.

While the main intent of the project is to build innovative farms, the Smart Floating Systems also present a great opportunity for farming research and education through their intelligent design and structure.

Each panel is built up of three levels. The ground level is designed to support aquaculture and desalination, the latter of which presents a valuable option for making some of earth’s salt water safe for human consumption. The next floor up is designed for hydroponic crop cultivation, followed by a rooftop level covered in solar panels, rain collectors and skylights.

The company also mentions the possibility of integrating wind turbines on the top level of each panel, just one of the many opportunities being discussed for this ever-expanding project.


Incredibly productive

On that note, each of the panels are designed to be flexible, adaptable and scalable to meet the needs of a growing, shifting global economy. The standard 200 by 350 meter design proposed by the company is estimated to produce 8,152 tons of vegetables and 1,703 tons of fish annually, a number that becomes even more staggering when one considers that a farm smaller than an airport runway can consist of at least dozens of these panels.


In conclusion, this project makes use of materials, techniques and technology that has been tried and tested in various industries all over the world. As such, there is no need to invent new materials or spend time and money researching new methods, making this project an economical one right out of the gate.

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So what’s next?

The bright minds at Forward Thinking Architecture are proposing that these Smart Floating Farms be installed in global economic centres that are located near to large bodies of water. Cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Sydney, Seattle and Bangkok, to name a few, have been listed as viable candidates for the project.

So while the world’s population is destined to keep skyrocketing, great thinkers like those at Forward Thinking Architecture are proof that what we need to do in order to adapt is come up with methods of food production that don’t need to burn tons of fuel in order to benefit our economy, culture and health.

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