Renewable Energy System

What is it and how does it work?

A defining feature of the Shed is its total reliance on renewable energy. It is entirely off-grid. Electricity to run lights, pumps, heaters and fans comes from the most abundant source of renewable energy on the planet: the Sun.

The Shed’s roof and south wall are adorned with 12 solar or photovoltaic panels – enough to charge a thousand phones or run the appliances of a small house. These panels pack a punch because they are made from a single crystal of high-efficiency, energy-conducting silicon (monocrystalline). A large battery bank stores unused energy for up to three days, guaranteeing a supply of electricity on cloudy days where little power is generated.

Smart technologies coordinate the storing of energy and its distribution to appliances in the Shed. A charge-controller sends the right amount of current to batteries versus the direct running of appliances. A load manager further tweaks the flow of electricity. It uses data such as temperature to allocate electricity most intelligently. For instance, it can switch on lights and ventilation fans at night in hot summer times to keep the Shed cool for its living plants and animals.

Why is it important?

Until recently, urban agriculture has been severely limited by the cost of electricity. The rise of indoor farming, for instance, has highlighted its toll on electrical grids and contribution to carbon emissions.

But the cost of renewable energy has tumbled, with solar energy 82% cheaper now than in 2010. With this change comes the opportunity to grow food cost-efficiently and with abundant renewable energy. Growing food locally further shrinks greenhouse gas emissions by growing food close to consumers and so avoiding long-range transport. As renewable energy and improving technologies chart the path to sustainable cities, off-grid solutions like the Shed will become more common. The net-zero energy status of the Shed contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goals of Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure (SDG 9) by developing clean technologies and Climate Action (SDG 13) by promoting climate-friendly agriculture.

What Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are met?

The net-zero energy status of the Shed contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goals of Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure (SDG 9) by developing clean technologies.

The net-zero energy status of the Shed contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goals of Climate Action (SDG 13) by promoting climate-friendly agriculture.

What can you do?

Visit the Shed virtually or in-person to learn more about its construction and how it works

Read more about renewable energies through the following unaffiliated links:

Learn more about renewable energy sources and technologies through this downloadable lesson plan example which can be done in the Food Shed or modified for at-home learning