Scale of Dutch glasshouse CHP output revealed

The Dutch glasshouse sector is now responsible for generating over a tenth of all the electricity used in the Netherlands, according to a new report.

model CHP - image:HW
model CHP - image:HW

In 2010, the sector generated over 12 billion kWh of electricity, largely through the use of combined heat and power (CHP) units, according to a study just published by the Agro-Economic Institute (LEI), part of Wageningen UR.

Dutch growers’ CHP systems now heat 60 per cent of the Netherlands’ total glasshouse area of just over 10,000 hectares, and have a collective capacity of over 2,900 MWe. By comparison, Britain’s largest power station, Drax in North Yorkshire, has around 4,000 MWe capacity.

This contributed to a 7 per cent rise in CO2 emissions from the sector, though this remained within national targets. But the greater efficiency of CHP generation has contributed to an overall reduction in national CO2 production of 2.4 million tonnes.

"In 2010, the greenhouse sector exceeded the goals for energy efficiency and CO2 emissions but not those for sustainable energy," the report said.

Renewable energy accounted for only 1.6 per cent of the sector’s energy use in 2010, well short of the 4 per cent target. "Because of the increase in cogeneration (CHP), the growth in the share of sustainable energy levelled off," the report explained.

But one sign of increased energy efficiency is that growers used 53 per cent less fuel per unit produced than in 1990, it added.

Extent of alternative technologies:
Total Dutch protected horticulture area c. 10,300 ha
Area heated by CHP 6,175 ha
Area heated by solar power 224 ha
Area heated by biofuels 113 ha
Area heated by geothermal energy 21 ha
Area lit by diffuse natural light 4 ha
Area lit by LED lighting 1 ha
source: LEI

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