The 2023 CEA Rollercoaster Recap


The 2023 CEA Rollercoaster Recap2023 was another turbulent year in the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) market. There was a surprising wave of bankruptcies in Q1, Q2, and Q3. Major players like Infarm, AppHarvest, Aerofarms, and Kalera all closed operations and filed for bankruptcy. The high-profile closures then contributed to funding drying up for CEA ventures, hindering new projects.

Q4 saw some improvement. A very large ReFarm project began in Dubai’s FoodTech Valley, a 900,000 sq. ft. vertical farming facility. Some experts are suggesting that the economics are better for greenhouses than vertical farms. Greenhouses utilize free sunlight, reducing lighting energy costs, even if supplemental lighting is used in a greenhouse. Vertical farms also tend to be more technology-heavy, increasing capital expenditures and financing costs compared to greenhouses.

Lots of technology is still being pursued, experimented with, and adopted by the industry, including AI, digital twins, CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, advanced LED lighting, and Nanobubble technologies.

Countries with the most activity in CEA include The Netherlands, Israel, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore. The UK is also poised for growth. The USA, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean islands have enormous potential, and lots of research is occurring, including the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

More information is available here.

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David Shiller
David Shiller is the Publisher of LightNOW, and President of Lighting Solution Development, a North American consulting firm providing business development services to advanced lighting manufacturers. The ALA awarded David the Pillar of the Industry Award. David has co-chaired ALA’s Engineering Committee since 2010. David established MaxLite’s OEM component sales into a multi-million dollar division. He invented GU24 lamps while leading ENERGY STAR lighting programs for the US EPA. David has been published in leading lighting publications, including LD+A, enLIGHTenment Magazine, LEDs Magazine, and more.


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