Urban Farm PV

The Urban Farm PV concept combines solar PV generation with vertical hydroponics in a controlled environment to solve the main challenges of agriculture in the Metropolitan Region: the dependence on scare resources such as water and fertile soils together with the needed reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the elimination of polluting chemicals.

© Fraunhofer Chile
Side graphics of the first module installed in the Municipality of Quinta Normal in 2019

FIC-R Project: Construction of two pilots in the Metropolitan Region

As part of the FIC-R Met 2017 project, two Urban Farm PV pilots were installed in the Metropolitan Region: one pilot was implemented under a community model in the Municipality of Quinta Normal where training for the operation of the module was provided to the employees of the municipality and neighbors to independently grow food.

The pilot consists of a container with a NFT (Nutrient Film Technology) hydroponic system installed with a capacity for 300 horticultural plants. The artificial light for the crops is provided by 24 LED bars from PARALED, which allow controlling and optimizing plant growth and production, through a specific light spectrum for plants, with adjustable red : blue ratio. 12 PV panels with a power of 320 Wp were installed on the container with a total capacity of 3,840 Wp. The photovoltaic panels are installed on a wooden structure designed by the Wood Innovation Center of the Universidad Católica de Chile.

A second pilot was transferred to UrbanaGrow, a startup formed by a group of young entrepreneurs from Santiago who identified a  business opportunity to apply the Urban Farm PV concept in a commercial environment through a contract with a major retail chain. A total of 120 vertical towers of 1.85 meters were installed resulting in a total capacity for 1200 crops, such as lettuce or basil. A nutrient solution is constantly passed from the top of each tower through a fabric, which allows the roots to be in contact with the nutrient solution. To ensure optimal light conditions, 8 PARALED spotlights and 16 PARALED bars were installed, allowing investigation regarding different lighting conditions.

The photovoltaic system of this pilot has a capacity of 2,700 Wp and consists of 5 PV panels installed on the roof of the container, which are connected to an on-grid inverter that allows to power the container.

The UFPV module that was transferred to the start-up Urbana Grow, which reached an agreement with Walmart to commercialise its products.

With two pilots in operation, Fraunhofer Chile is studying and analyzing the energy and water consumption of the Urban Farm PV concept. The project is financed by the Metropolitan FIC-R fund of the Regional Government under the BIP code: 40002643-0 and has the support of Ciencia Pura, Punto Solar, DUOC and Centro de la Madera UC, fulfilling both socio-community objectives and strengthening regional entrepreneurship in an innovative and sustainable concept.







In this video it is possible to observe the two UFPV pilot modules built with the project carried out with the FIC-R Fund of the Metropolitan Regional Government.

Advantages and Synergies of combining Hydroponics and Solar Energy

Hydroponics refers to the cultivation of plants without the use of soil, but in a nutrient solution which contains all the essential elements for plant growth and development.

Plant roots are in direct contact with water. To provide optimal growing conditions, hydroponic systems are commonly implemented in closed environment, where climatic conditions such as light and temperature are controlled.

To optimize efficiency, hydroponic tubes can be vertically stacked. Plants commonly grown hydroponically include vegetables in general, especially lettuce, but also cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, or raspberries.


Hydroponics offers multiple advantages compared to conventional agriculture, enabling the production of vegetables in places where the climate does not allow cultivation, where the soil has lost its productivity and/or in locations where there is a water shortage: hydroponics achieve a significant reduction in the use of water for irrigation.


For example, to grow 1 kilogram of tomatoes using traditional cultivation methods, approximately 400 liters of water are required, while using hydroponics only requires 70 liters, thanks to the possibility of recycling water. Especially vertical hydroponic systems maximize the efficiency of the use of surface area.

The created advantages of hydroponics in closed environments are based on climate control and LED lighting, processes that are energy intensive, leading to high energy costs and GHG emissions. That is the reason why we combine vertical hydroponics with solar PV to provide clean energy at an economical cost for the production process, mitigating climate change.

Cooperation possibilities

Fraunhofer Chile supports industry and the public sector in the development of the Urban Farm PV concept by assisting with project implementation and scientific measurements to validate results. 

News and Videos


Fraunhofer Chile y GORE entregan Proyecto de Agricultura Urbana Solar a Municipalidad de Quinta Normal


Solar Urban Agriculture

A video summary of the proposal carried out with the FIC-R in Quinta Normal 


1st Urban Farm in a Supermarket

Video of the first #UrbanFarm in a supermarket in Chile, project developed by Start up UrbanaFarm and Walmart, thanks to the UFPV project of Fraunhofer Chile and GORE Metropolitano.

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