Cogeneration CHP, North America, Renewables

First North American cogeneration plant for commercial greenhouses

Large-scale CHP for greenhouses has arrived in Canada, where Great Northern Hydroponics, a division of Detroit-based Soave Enterprises, has installed a 12 MW plant at Soave’s 55-acre tomato greenhouse complex in Kingsville, Ontario. The complex is located near Lake Erie’s north shore, about 350 km west of Toronto and about 50 km east of Detroit.

The high-efficiency on-site power plant, powered by four of GE Energy’s Jenbacher gas engine cogeneration modules, was among seven natural gas-fuelled CHP projects approved by the Ontario Power Authority in 2006 to showcase how advanced cogeneration technologies could help make industrial plants more energy independent, improve local grid reliability and support Canada’s clean and renewable energy goals. Surplus power from the greenhouse power plant is being sold to the local grid under a 20-year contract with the Ontario Power Authority.

In addition to generating power and heat to support greenhouse operations, the power plant also treats the gas engines’ exhaust, enabling carbon dioxide from the exhaust to be recycled and applied to enhance greenhouse crop production.

‘Our inaugural greenhouse cogeneration project was made possible because of Ontario’s commitment to energy efficiency and initiatives to add significant amounts of energy from cogeneration to the provincial power grid,’ said Guido van het Hof, president of Great Northern Hydroponics. The cogeneration plant allows Soave to control its greenhouse operating expenses and improve its competitive position against other growers in North America, van het Hof explained.

The project also will support Ontario’s renewable energy goals because high efficiency, dispatchable cogeneration projects – including the Soave Hydroponics project – are helping the integration of renewable energy projects into the grid, van het Hof added.

The special carbon dioxide fertilization/cogeneration system was developed by GE Energy’s Jenbacher gas engine business, which operates a global horticultural applications center of excellence in The Netherlands. The complete system was supplied by DDACE Power Systems, GE’s Jenbacher engine distributor for eastern Canada.