Towards alternative energy and CO2 sources for Dutch greenhouses

News - 18 March 2022

Dutch horticulture sector

Dutch greenhouses produce mostly vegetables and flowers like tomatoes, sweet peppers and roses. After the United States, the Netherlands is the biggest exporter of agricultural produce in the world. The Dutch agricultural sector exports about € 65 billion of agricultural products annually. This is 17.5% of total Dutch exports. Accounting for 10% of the Dutch economy and employment, the agriculture and horticulture sectors play a crucial role.

Problem situation

The Dutch greenhouse horticulture sector uses 9 percent (!) of the total gas used in The Netherlands. The gas is used by greenhouses to operate WKKs (Warmte Kracht Koppelingen), which produce electricity (light), heat and CO2, three important ingredients for the growth of crops. CO2 enrichment in greenhouses allows crops to meet their photosynthesis potential and the supply of extra CO2 supply increases the yield of greenhouse crops.

The push from the Dutch government for climate neutral greenhouses, together with the high gas prices, forces the sector to shift to the use of new sustainable sources such as hydrogen and geothermal heat. The challenges in this transition are to find new CO2 sources (currently exhausted from the gas used) and new energy sources and to develop an infrastructure in which these different systems are well integrated. 

Assignment

  1. Study and create an overview of..
    • a)    β€¦ current and potential (sustainable) electricity, heat and CO2 sources and the involved technical challenges;
    • b)    β€¦ the challenges for capturing, transporting and delivering electricity, heat and CO2 to greenhouses;
    • c)    β€¦ the challenges around electricity, heat and CO2 quality and more efficient use of electricity, heat and CO2 in the greenhouses.
       
  2. Design an integrated infrastructure for the supply of electricity, heat and CO2, from source to greenhouse for the West Holland region. In addition, develop a roadmap for the sector on how to achieve this.

Stakeholders

  • Dr. ir. Emile Chappin, TPM Energy Transition Lab (supervisor)
  • β€œname” (industry project client)
  • ir. Eva Frese, TU Delft AgTech Institute (operational support)