Dutch greenhouse consortium harnesses geothermal energy
A consortium of nine Dutch growers has recently begun using geothermal energy to heat their greenhouses, in a bid to produce crops using more sustainable methods.
The 2,000-meter-deep wells through which water is pumped and heated were drilled last year, with project financing having been secured in 2014.
In late January the Geothermal Vierpolders consortium began using the energy to heat their glasshouses, which cover 49 hectares in southwest of the Netherlands near the port hub of Rotterdam.
The growers produce a range of crops including tomatoes and eggplants.
Geothermal Vierpolders director Paul Grootscholten, who is also a partner at family-owned glasshouse salad plant supplier Globe Plant, one of the growers using the heat, hopes to increase the use of the energy source in near future.
"At the moment we use on average 1.2 million cubic meters of natural gas for our heating every year, and what we hope to do is cut this down to around 400,000 million cubic meters," he told www.freshfruitportal.com.
"For the first month I used full power of natural gas, and at the moment we do have some issues so we’re not producing heat from the geothermal well, but we will resume in the end of August."
The aim is to reduce the company's natural gas usage by 40-50% this year, and then move up to 60-70% next year.
Grootscholten explained although any savings at present were minimal due to the relatively low cost of natural gas, the main reason behind initiating the project was sustainability.
"If gas prices go up, as they had been doing for a while, then it will be a good investment," he said.
"But sustainability is the main theme, and indirectly reducing the use of gas. The more my company uses geothermal energy the more resources I have to stay in business long into the future."
He added the company's eco-friendly credentials would hopefully also lead to a boost in sales as consumers favor their products over competitors'.
The representative also said use of geothermal energy in Dutch greenhouse industry would increase in the future, with several new projects underway in the country.
"This year alone there will be three new geothermal sites and next year I heard there will be four or five, so it’s definitely a growing industry," he said.