Energy | Sundrop Farms

Tailored automation solution for cutting-edge

greenhouse technology.

Init delivered the automation solution for a prestigious greenhouse concept at Sundrop Farms in Australia. The Sundrop Farms grow high-value crops using seawater and sunlight. The greenhouse system harnesses the sun’s energy to convert seawater to freshwater for irrigation, electricity to power the greenhouse, and the energy to heat and cool the greenhouse crops.


Challenge: Automating a first-of-its-kind greenhouse system

Sundrop Farms boasts that they are the first in the world to grow something out of nothing. And they do so with good reason. While a typical greenhouse would use groundwater for irrigation, gas for heating, and electricity for cooling, the Sundrop system relies on seawater and sunlight for its energy and water needs.


The new state-of-the-art Sundrop System in Port Augusta, South Australia, will:

  • heat the greenhouse, that covers almost 50 acres of land, during the winter or on cold summer nights
  • provide fresh water by desalinating seawater drawn from the nearby Spencer Bay, and
  • periodically run a steam turbine to produce electricity.


However, building a control system for such a plant requires ultra-flexible solutions and a strong project team of expert minds capable of understanding the entire process of the plant.

Solution: A reliable control system powered by experience and close collaboration

Some of the minds capable of developing this kind of tailored and intelligent automation solution, was found as far away as Denmark. Aalborg CSP A/S – a leading pioneer of concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies – was chosen to develop and deliver the integrated solar energy system for the operation of Sundrop Farms’ new greenhouses. And Init was selected as supplier of the control system and tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the system functions seamlessly throughout the year and adjusts to different seasonal demands.


The two companies have previously delivered world-class solutions together for the solar industry. A few years prior, Init supplied large electric and automation solutions for reliable operation of Aalborg CSP’s steam boilers in solar powered power plants located in the Southern part of Spain – a project that proved very successful.


We are very proud and pleased to be a part of this great project in Australia. A project that once again draws on our core competencies and which will demonstrate the knowledge base we have built up during the past decades.

Troels Severinsen, Business Unit Director at Init.


Init’s engineers developed a control system capable of ensuring that power is distributed or saved according to available storage and weather forecast. The control system is designed in such a manner that the Init commissioning team could easily implement solutions to unforeseen complications and add new functionalities after delivery.


Result: A flexible and future-proof system for a greener future

Sundrop Farms’ needs for adjustable and simple control was considered in the process, resulting in a system that can be trusted for operation for years to come. And with its built-in flexibility, Sundrop’s staff can easily adjust the functionalities of the control system to accommodate new operational requirements.


The benefits of a system like this are evident:

  • Conservation of freshwater resources
  • Fewer “food miles”
  • Reduced pesticide use
  • Reduction of fossil fuel demand
  • Efficient use of marginal land


With its cutting-edge greenhouse system, Sundrop Farms has achieved all of this whilst maintaining a profitable business.




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