"World-first": £120M greenhouse project announced for U.K.

October 04 , 2019

Greencoat Capital, the UK’s largest investor in renewable energy, has announced a £120m (US$150m) project to construct two of the country's largest greenhouses.

The facilities will be warmed by residual heat from nearby water recycling centers - which it describes as a "world-first".

The facilities, which will grow vegetable crops including tomatoes, will be located at two farmland sites near Norwich and Bury St Edmunds.

The construction phase of the project will begin immediately, with completion expected in autumn 2020.

Commercial-scale growers from the U.K. and the Netherlands have already committed to leasing the space. 

"The greenhouses will provide ideal growing conditions for a range of plants and vegetables requiring a high-heat, and relatively low-light environments such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers," Greencoat said in a statement.

"Once operational, the greenhouses will be capable of producing more than 1 in 10 of the country’s tomatoes, and will create 360 permanent new jobs."

Decarbonisation of the heating and agriculture sectors has so far been "disappointingly slow despite their enormous carbon output", it added.

"These pioneering greenhouses make a significant step towards solving both problems at scale, reducing the carbon footprint of food produce by 75% compared to European equivalents and increasing UK food security," the company said.

Closed-loop heat pumps will be used to transfer the heat from the water recycling centers to the greenhouses, and will have the additional benefit of cooling the facility’s treated water outflow before it is returned to the environment.

Electricity for the greenhouse’s heat pumps will be provided by a Combined Heat and Power (“CHP”) plant, with waste heat from the CHP providing further warmth for the greenhouses.

The gas-fired CHP plant’s carbon emissions will be transferred into the greenhouses, raising the CO2 levels and further accelerating the growth of the plants, and capturing the majority of the carbon. 

James Samworth, Partner at Greencoat Capital, said: "We’re very pleased to have achieved another innovative first in the UK renewable energy sector.

"Technology and cross-sector co-operation is continuing to unlock some amazing possibilities in energy and agriculture."

 

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