26 March  •

Footprint Friday – Sustainable energy

How our growers become more environmental friendly
Our growers grow their plants as sustainably as possibly for example with circular breeding pots, less and natural crop protection, geothermal heat, sustainable packaging materials and data-driven cultivation. We believe in the power of cooperation and in transparency. Inspiring and challenging each other, learning from each other and achieving sustainable results together. That is why we are organizing the upcoming months four ‘Footprint Friday’ sessions with key growers. All with the aim to support our goal to sell only ‘positive plants’ by 2030.

On Friday the 26th of March the first session took place on the subject of ‘sustainable energy’. On the way to a fossil free horticulture various sustainable alternatives are, in combination with energy saving, available to replace the use of gas. Geothermal heat, a heat pump, bio-fuels and residual heat are some of the alternatives. What are the possibilities in each region, how do you work together with other companies, what are the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative and how do you store sustainable energy?

With geothermal heat
One of the experts in the first session was Leon Ammerlaan. As early as 2010 ‘Ammerlaan the Green Innovator’ was the first horticulture grower to heat his glasshouse with geothermal heat. This grower was looking for a solution to make his company and the cultivation of tropical green plants more sustainable. Having weighted various energy alternatives he chose geothermal heat. Thanks to this geothermal heat his production of pot plants is as good as CO2 neutral.

How does a geothermal installation work?
Geothermal heat is heat which comes from deep in the ground. It is a clean and sustainable alternative for gas. Deep in the ground the water is very warm, the deeper the warmer. Ammerlaan pumps this water at a depth of about two kilometer. Its temperature is then 80oC.  This geothermal heat is used to heat the glasshouses. After being used the water goes back to the same earth layer via a second pipe line. It takes 30 years before the same water can be pumped again. The water regains heat in the ground and can then be used again.

When starting this project Ammerlaan took a risky step. He was namely the first grower in the horticulture sector to launch a geothermal heat project. In 2009 this pot plant grower got a permit to start drilling a borehole for the pipe line. ‘Perseverance is needed to complete such a project’ says Ammerlaan. ‘It stands or falls with a good cooperation with the neighbourhood, with the government, with other growers and stakeholders. The realization of this geothermal heat project did not go without struggle. In the summer of 2017 the first pipe line broke at a 1 kilometer depth. Considering the investment which had been done for the project, stopping was no option for the Ammerlaan brothers. They decided to drill two new and bigger boreholes. And they succeeded! This project is now running and their willpower has been rewarded with the EZK Energy Award.

Co-users of geothermal heat
As the capacity of the well bigger is than the heat requirements for the Ammerlaan 6,5 hectares glasshouses, a large number of heat-consumers have since 2010 been gradually connected to the Ammerlaan geothermal heat network. In the meantime 28 other horticulture companies, a school, a swimming pool, a sport complex and 543 houses are heated sustainably. In the coming years this number of heat-consumers is expected to grow. A win-win situation through sharing geothermal heat.

Our growers help the Netherlands to become more and more sustainable.
Let’s plantify the future. Together.