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Geothermal propels Dutch horticulture industry to new heights

Westland Greenhouse, Wateringen, The Netherlands (Source: Flickr/ Jeroen van Luin, Creative Commons)
Carlo Cariaga 14 Apr 2019

Backed by government subsidies, the geothermal heating project in Koekoekspolder has allowed its horticulture industry to shift away from burning natural gas.

In Koekoekspolder in the province of Overjissel, Netherlands, a group of growers have turned to geothermal heating as an alternative to natural gas. The idea of using geothermal energy came to the growers 10 years ago due to skyrocketing gas prices. Recognizing the opportunity, the group of growers started the company Aardwarmtecluster 1 KKP BV.

The geothermal heating system relies on two wells drilled to almost 2 kilometers depth. Hot water at a temperature of 75 °C is pumped from one well and passed through a heat exchanger before being reinjected in the second well. The heat exchangers warms water to 72 °C, which is then circulated to a series of several nurseries before being reheated using the same process.

The heating network serves seven nurseries within a 2-kilometer radius. Development of the project cost around 12.5 million euros, which was financed by the grower’s own capital and augmented by loans and grants from various organizations, the local council, and the local and national government.

Like other renewable energy projects, geothermal heating receives government subsidy under the Sustainable Energy Promotion scheme. The subsidy compensates for the difference between the cost of producing renewable energy and its market value. This has allowed geothermal energy to be competitive with natural gas, which is still a much cheaper alternative for greenhouse heating.

With the well currently producing at maximum capacity, plans are already underway to drill a second well by early 2020.

The success of the geothermal heating project in Koekoekspolder is a testament to how government support and subsidies can help promote the development of renewable energy projects. The Dutch government has committed to stop producing natural gas by 2050.

Source: FloraCulture International