Greenhouses not using CHP to full potential, energy firm says

Cogeneration is ‘often not used at its full potential’ in greenhouse applications, the head of UK-based energy solutions firm Energy4Growth said last week in a speech at the British Tomato Conference.

Summarising his speech in horticulture industry publication HortiDaily, Robert Heikens said the use of combined heat and power (CHP) in greenhouses to produce heat, power and CO2 could be further optimised by ‘taking a closer look at the total concept of heat distribution and CO2 dosage’.

‘The technology is not new, and has proven itself for many years already,’ Heikens said. ‘However, we approach the technology from a different perspective, by creating a total concept for a grower and taking the entire energy and CO2 distribution network into account. In this area, many things can be improved and become more efficient.’

Smart heat distribution is ‘the most important thing,’ Heikens said, but it is often forgotten at greenhouses that use CHP. Successful cogeneration, he said, relies on a different heat distribution network than a standard system with a gas boiler.

‘When using a CHP, the focus usually lies on running the engine as much as possible in order to create maximum ROI and meet the desired running hours,’ Heikens said, with the result that ‘low-grade energy (heat) is not always used, as it’s not needed sometimes. Furthermore, during warm summer days, much heat is also not used. This is all the result of a lack of good buffer and distribution systems.’

Heikens added that CO2 distribution within cogeneration can also be improved by looking at the total greenhouse concept and designing smart CO2 distribution networks.

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