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While Cultivated Meat Promises a Greener Future, Could the Cost of Power to Produce It Negate Its Environmental Benefits?

In the expanding field of cultivated meat, sustainability remains a cornerstone, especially for startups like Australia's Magic Valley.


Prof. Andrew Laslett, Magic Valley

Prof. Andrew Laslett, (left) Head of Research and Development, a key figure in this innovative sector, emphasises the critical role of sustainable energy sources in scaling up cultivated meat production.


As global demand for environmentally friendly food options grows, companies like Magic Valley are faced with energy-based questions to address needs associated with making current research and development commercially and environmentally viable.


At the real heart of the debate is the scalability of cultivated meat production and its impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Traditional meat production is notoriously energy-intensive and environmentally taxing. Cultivated meat promises a greener alternative, but as Andrew Laslett points out, the true sustainability of this technology hinges on the energy sources used.


"There's a lot of debate at the moment from people who are unsure that the technology around the production of cultivated meat is truly scalable and whether or not if it is scalable, how scalable is it in terms of greenhouse gas emissions? Is it going to be better or worse?" Professor Laslett says.


He proposes a solution looking beyond conventional energy grids. 'My view is that as long as we use ultimate service sources of power that are not coming directly from the grid, so solar power etc, the factories that need to be made to house the bioreactors to grow the cells at scale is potentially a worldwide technology that could be taken up'.


This approach not only addresses the immediate energy demands of large-scale bioreactors, which can range from 10 liters to an enormous 10,000 liters, but also aligns with the overarching goal of reducing carbon emissions.


However, the journey towards a fully sustainable cultivated meat industry is not without challenges. Andrew Laslett acknowledges the hurdles ahead: "There are a lot of steps that still need to be gone through to make sure it's scalable at an affordable cost, and in a safe way." This statement underscores the need for careful planning, investment in innovative technologies like solar-powered hydrogen cells forinstance, and a commitment to sustainability at every step of the scale-up process.

Ai Rendition of solar-powered bioreactor plant

Source: PFN Ai Rendition of solar-powered bioreactor plant


Magic Valley, is at the leading edge of this shift towards a more sustainable future in food production. By embracing renewable energy sources and continually assessing the scalability and environmental impact of their operations, cultivated meat producers globally can lead the charge in reducing the food industry's carbon footprint. However, the critical issue of obtaining the necessary 'power to do so' is now surfacing as a substantial concern.


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