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TEPCO launches huge vertical farm reliant on artificial light

Supplied photo shows an indoor vertical farm launched by TEPCO Energy Partner Inc. in Fujieda, Shizuoka Prefecture.(Photo courtesy of TEPCO Energy Partner Inc.)(Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A unit of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. launched last week an indoor vertical farm in central Japan with production capacity of 5 tons a day -- one of the world's largest for facilities relying solely on artificial lighting.

    TEPCO Energy Partner Inc. started the operation of the farm with a total floor space of about 9,000 square meters last Wednesday in the city of Fujieda, Shizuoka Prefecture, to grow leafy greens such as lettuce by utilizing light-emitting diodes.

    The company aims to initially produce about 1 ton of vegetables per day and will begin shipping around August.

    The firm said it plans to raise the output to 5 tons a day by next year and move into the black in 2023.

    Vertical farming relying only on artificial lighting has been drawing attention as a way to ensure stability in production and distribution of food items, as it is not affected by undesirable weather conditions and other risks such as epidemics, the TEPCO unit said.

    Such facilities are also expected to provide solutions for some of the problems faced by Japanese agriculture industry, such as a decline in the number of farmers and the aging of those still working the land, it added.

    TEPCO Energy Partner, which engages in electricity retailing, also said an indoor environment allow operators to better maintain the quality and freshness of products, which can help reduce food waste.

    "We would like to make the most of our energy-saving technologies," said an official of the company. "Since it's indoor, vegetables are resistant to abnormal weather, and they are also safe because they are grown without using agrichemicals."

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