Due to the site depth 100ft below street level, the tunnels enjoy a stable temperature of 16°C all year round, meaning that production can continue throughout the year and additional energy costs can be kept to a minimum. Any additional energy will be sourced from green suppliers.
Urban farming goes underground in London
— By Tyler Falk on February 4, 2014, 3:24 PM PST
Having done something similar in New York for almost ten years I can tell you right now that this project will never meet its expenses, unless the 'urban farmers' grow pot. (I grew exotic plants.)
Indoor growing areas are massive energy guzzlers ... if you want the plants to actually grow. The boys will need to use high-intensity discharge lamps (HID) instead of those weenie LED lamps. Check w/ neighborhood pot growers: HID lamps and air conditioners/fans to suck the excess heat out of the confined spaces.
Electric = $100+/square meter/year. In other words, their electric bill would be over a million dollars US per year @ New York City rates. It is likely London, UK rates are much higher ... all this to grow produce.
Growing edible mushrooms would be a better project, or snails (escargot). Very little light is needed. Mushrooms are grown right now in abandoned coal mines in Pennsylvania, they do very well as commercial crops.
Best to scrap the dreamware and start with getting rid of the cars, the suburbia, the Tescos, the parking lots and use the land freed up for ... you know ... real farms. If UK is lucky it can find the means to feed 1/3d of its bulging (over)population on what land remains from developers, miners, highway builders, toxic dumpers, speculators, etc.
@steve from virginia That was what I was thinking. It's possibly economically viable for "exotic" crops such as cannabis, but the energy costs can't possibly justify this for food production.
A more appropriate SmartPlanet question might be "What is the carbon footprint of this effort"? After all, that seems to be the driving question that justifies all other issues around here.
There is plenty of farmland in the UK, much of it is just not utilised effectivley.
Far better than cultivation by artificial light, no doubt powered by massive CO2 generating power stations.
The UK fed it's population during WW2, and the population is not hugely greater than then, the trouble is most of the population just fundamentally eat far too much, despite the vast increases in food production efficiency and mechanization since then.
@RobSlack They were huge. Here is a little information on some of the.
"Eight shelters were completed in 1942 around London all beneath existing underground stations and seven on the Northern Line. Each consisted of two parallel tunnels 1200 feet long and divided into two floors."
They'd be better utilised by conversion to some Japanese style pod hotel rooms, to help alleviate London's ridiculously chronic hotel bed/cost problem. There are a small number of them already, but they are not hugely cheaper than a normal crummy hotel for your £100+/night.
A number of massive London pod hotel rooms, at £25 night, would be awesome, and give a much better return than growing anemic veg and herbs underground. Like the article says, they have 2.5 acres to play with.