‘Growers adjust strategy due to high energy prices'
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‘Growers adjust strategy due to high energy prices'

  • 25 April 2022

As a result of the explosive rise in energy prices, greenhouse horticulture entrepreneurs are adjusting their cultivation strategy. Their ambition remains to achieve climate-neutral cultivation. That is why they support the letter which Glastuinbouw Nederland sent to the government this week, containing an offer to save 900 million m3 of natural gas within five years. This was revealed during a meeting of the Energy Agreement of Greenport West Holland on 22 April 2022.

During the meeting, growers Roy Persoon and Marc Koene talked about the effects of high energy prices on their business. They are adjusting their cultivation strategy and bringing forward investments (such as extra screens and/or LED lighting). Marc Koene, for example, has saved 20 per cent on energy and costs by using LED lighting. However, there must be room to invest, and that is where the bottleneck lies. That is why growers are asking the national government for clarity on a number of aspects in the short term, so that they can make better decisions about investing in energy sustainability. This mainly concerns savings at farm level, the continued development of geothermal energy and the accelerated supply of residual heat. Growers with lit cultivation also call for more attention to be paid to working towards a robust, sustainable and affordable electricity supply.

Deployment of CHPs

An AgroEnergy analysis recently showed that the use of CHPs somewhat mitigates the effects of high energy prices. This was also shown in a study by Blue Terra. Especially unexposed farms with a CHP can compensate for expensive gas purchases by selling electricity at higher prices. In the case of lit farms, however, energy costs rise explosively if all the gas purchased is used as an input for cultivation. For these companies, there are more savings and yield potentials by switching off their own lighting at times of high electricity prices and supplying it to the grid.

Making emergency power available can also provide extra yield. Robin Teeken of Blue Terra explained that by 2030 the number of profitable hours of operation for CHP will decrease due to the strong increase of solar and wind energy and it will become more attractive to use the CHP at other times of the day. If there is a lot of wind and sun, the heat price for market gardeners will therefore rise, was one of his conclusions. However, the use of CHPs will remain necessary to meet the electrical demand, especially at times when the sun does not shine and there is little wind.

Five new geothermal doublets

Marco van Soerland of Warmte Systeem Westland emphasised that the real battle for sustainability can be won in greenhouse horticulture. Van Soerland said that a drilling rig is under construction that will drill five geothermal vaults in a row. But geothermal energy will also become more expensive for customers; the SDE+ subsidy will fall if the price of gas rises. However, this effect only occurs a year later. Consequently, the price of geothermal heat in 2022 is still relatively low. The price will be higher in 2023, but at current prices geothermal energy is still cheaper than from a gas-fired boiler. For further upscaling and linking of projects, the efforts of the ministries and provinces involved are important.

Growers noted that even at these energy prices, gas-fired CHP is still more favourable in many cases. Van Soerland also indicated that the by-catch of natural gas in geothermal energy in the West-Holland region is a strong advantage, because projects can use it to provide for their own electricity needs through a CHP.

Accelerating the supply of residual heat

In the discussion at the end of the meeting, an appeal was made to the partners Gasunie and the Port Authority to speed up the supply of residual heat. It became clear that this would require a clear and firm commitment to the heat demand from the market gardeners themselves. With regard to the use of hydrogen, it was noted that it is a good idea to investigate this. Hydrogen will not, however, lead to quick solutions. The use of residual heat from electrolysis probably still offers the best opportunities.


Source: Greenport West Holland