The glasshouse as a source of energy
An ‘energy-producing glasshouse’ is a glasshouse with an entirely closed system, excellent insulation, and extremely efficient use of energy. As a result, it actually produces energy – in the form of heat – over and above its own requirements as derived from fossil fuels. The surplus heat can be stored for future use or transported to other users in the vicinity.
The ‘Glasshouse as a source of energy’ programme is a joint initiative of the Dutch horticultural sector, the sector’s representative body (Productschap Tuinbouw), and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. Its objective is to render the sector entirely climate-neutral. The programme has set out seven ‘transition paths’ by which this ambition is to be achieved (see Appendix 1). Companies can select the most appropriate solution (‘transition method’) or combination of solutions depending on the produce they grow and their location.
Unique Selling Points
• The ‘Glasshouse as a source of energy’ programme has the potential to bring about major changes in the glasshouse-based horticultural sector. In future, the sector will not only produce flowers, plants, and vegetables, but also energy – both for its own use and that of consumers elsewhere in the country.
• The concept has been subject to thorough development and offers a number of significant advantages, such as low construction costs, rapid light transmission due to the use of LED technology, and modular system design which can be applied quickly.
• In a closed system, the glasshouse is entirely energy self-sufficient. All processes can be accurately controlled and it becomes easier to use organic pesticides rather than more hazardous chemical alternatives.
• The Dutch glasshouse-based horticultural sector already enjoys an excellent international reputation.
In the last thirty years, energy efficiency in the Dutch glasshouse-based horticultural sector has improved by some fifty per cent. During this period, average annual gas consumption has fallen from 80 m3 per square metre floor space to just 40 m3. It is clear that application of the energy-efficiency concepts developed in the Netherlands can do much to reduce energy consumption in other countries.
(Figures relating to the climate impact of each concept are given in Appendix 1.)
Market parties and research institutes
Buildesk Benelux, Celtic Koeling, Climeco Engineering, COGEN Projects, DWA, Ener•G Nedalo, Gasterra, Grow Technology, Hortimax Growing Solutions, IF Technology, Installatie & Energieadvies, KEMA, Knook Energy Solutions, Lemnis Lighting, Lioris B.V., Philips Lighting, Priva*, Productschap Tuinbouw*, Redenko, TNO, Westland Energy Services, Wilk van der Sande, and WUR (NB This list is not comprehensive)
Best practice reference projects in the Netherlands
• The ‘Fiwihex’ glasshouse used by potplant grower Stef Huisman in Bergerden
• The ‘Innogrow’ closed-system glasshouse used by tomato producer Themato in Berkel en Rodenrijs
• The ‘climbing frame’ glasshouse used by cucumber producer Sjaak van Dijk in Pijnacker
• The Energie Combinatie Wieringermeer (ECW) partnership
Possible obstacles to international business
• Spatial constraints: a glasshouse requires a significant area of land. Adequate space must therefore be available within the target region.
• Operational management expertise: users must know how to manage a glasshouse-based business. Where assistance is required, good after-service must be available.