Netherlands set for geothermal boom in produce

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Netherlands set for geothermal boom in produce

Geothermal energy could provide greenhouse tomato, pepper and cucumber growers with an opportunity to combat rising costs and lower energy costs by up to 50%. geothermal power _ greenhousegeopower nl

This was the key finding from a recent report prepared by Dutch financial institution Rabobank into the uptake of renewable energy in the Netherlands, which found that interest in geothermal solutions could result in substantial growth in the technology's use over the coming years.

In fact, the report found that geothermal energy could replace an estimated 2% of national natural gas consumption at an estimated investment cost of €1.6 billion (US$2.1 billion).

Speaking to, report author Clara van den Elst said geothermal solutions could help the Netherlands reach its EU renewable energy target of 20% of total usage by 2020, given that the Dutch greenhouse sector accounts for 10% of the country's total natural gas consumption.

"The sector is currently facing declining profit margins, two of the main reasons being its high energy demand and rising natural gas prices," she said.

"If the potential is realized, it would mean a big step forward for the Netherlands in terms of its renewable energy targets. Like the U.K., the Netherlands still has some considerable way to go before making its target.

"It’s a relatively cheap renewable energy technology in a difficult category and it also suits greenhouses very well because they have a high heat demand."

Van den Elst explained that the energy is extracted from deep underground by drilling two angled holes into the ground until an aquifer at a certain temperature is located. This water is pumped to the surface, where the heat is extracted, before being pumped back down again, typically to an area a kilometre and a half away from its original source.

But she admitted that – like fracking – seismic scans have to be carried out before drilling, while there is also no guarantee that the underground water source can be accessed successfully.

The cost associated with the technology is also considerable – around €10-15 million (US$13-20 million) per geothermal facility. However, van den Elst said considerable amounts of energy could potentially be harnessed, with each well potentially able to provide renewable energy for 30 years.

The report's author says there were signs the technology was already being embraced in the Netherlands, with €800 million (US$1 billion) won in grants for geothermal technology projects last year – 90% of which related to greenhouses that produced fresh fruits and vegetables.

"The projects have been filed by greenhouses that produce tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers because they have a high heat demand and less lighting – that’s the category that is most suitable for geothermal technology," said van den Elst.

"Last year, 30 products were filed and have received subsidy and seven of those have already been realised. Only two or three of those 30 were not filed by the horticultural sector."





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