Location of greenhouse horticulture determines the CO2 reduction potential

‘With the necessary efforts, greenhouse growers must succeed in reducing CO2 emissions sufficiently’, expects Arne Bac from Rabobank. “However, the effect of the energy transition can be very different from company to company. The location of the establishment plays a big role here. ‘

Horticultural sector manager Arne Bac and his Rabo colleague Lambert van Horen, a specialist in the greenhouse horticulture sector, are predominantly optimistic that greenhouse growers will succeed in reaching their emission targets in the period up to 2030. They also assume that the sector can take a big step towards 2040 to be completely climate neutral. Van Horen: ‘The goals are sharp and it will certainly not happen by itself, but there is enough attention among entrepreneurs to take this energetically forward.’

On behalf of Rabobank, Bac and Van Horen are compilers of the publication ‘Reducing CO2 emissions in the greenhouse garden is a big challenge’, which was published this week. In it, they provide an overview of what the greenhouse gardeners have achieved in the energy transition up to 2020, and what reduction options are still available. They are also aware of regional differences in the report. In this context, Rabobank is investigating the extent to which it is possible to work with an area-based approach to emission reductions in addition to the company-oriented and sector-oriented approach.

Calculation of CO2 emissions in greenhouse horticulture, based on the achieved sustainability with geothermal, residual heat and ‘new cultivation’ and the savings opportunities for the period from 2023 to 2030. © Nieuwe Oogst

According to Bac, energy is an inevitable topic for greenhouse horticulture. “This is of course due to the high energy prices. But in this report, we will primarily show where there are opportunities to reduce CO2 emissions. It must give the gardener perspective ‘.

In the end, supermarkets prefer geothermal tomatoes over CHP tomatoes

Arne Bac, Rabobank sector manager horticulture

According to Rabobank’s estimates, the current greenhouse gas emissions correspond to 6.68 megatons of CO2 equivalents. In the energy pact, the sector and the government have set a residual emission target of a maximum of 4.8 megatons of CO2 with a target of reducing 0.5 to 1 megaton extra. Rabobank assumes that more than 10 percent of energy demand is covered by renewable energy sources and the rest by fossil fuels.

In the report, Rabobank mentions the use of geothermal energy, the ‘new cultivation’, the availability of residual heat from nearby companies and the construction and energy-friendly design of new greenhouses as savings opportunities. ‘The location of a business is extremely important for the ability to save on gas consumption,’ explains Van Horen. »There are usually more opportunities for companies in greenhouse horticulture clusters to use alternative heat sources than for solitary companies. It is precisely the sole proprietorships that are more dependent on their neighbors’.

Reduction potential calculated

In the report, Rabobank has calculated the reduction potential for greenhouse horticulture per province in the period up to 2030. This shows that South Holland, the province with the largest greenhouse horticulture area, can achieve an emission reduction of 65 percent. This is mainly based on the strong concentration of companies and the realization of various geothermal energy projects.

For North Brabant, North Holland and Limburg, also three provinces with a significant glass area, the reduction potential is estimated to be somewhat lower by 47 percent, 43 percent and a further 43 percent, respectively. This is mainly due to the fact that companies are more dispersed and therefore have limited opportunities to connect to geothermal energy projects.

Use residual heat

In North Brabant, there are opportunities for utilization of residual heat in horticultural areas close to major industrial areas. The reduction potential for Limburg is significantly lower if geothermal energy is no longer possible there. In the long run, something could be done with green hydrogen as an energy source, Van Horen assumes.

In calculating the reduction potential, the availability of geothermal energy plays an important role, he acknowledges. ‘But it is not a saving grace. Adequate reductions are also possible with new techniques, other crops or good cooperation with surrounding companies. ‘

According to Rabobank, the potential for achieving the emission targets also has consequences for the greenhouse gardeners’ competitive position. Bac: ‘Supermarkets are increasingly looking at the energy footprint of the products they sell. In the end, they prefer geothermal tomatoes to combined heat and power tomatoes (CHP). It’s an extra big push ‘.

An incentive policy is needed

Bac expects a more stimulating policy from the government. According to him, we must now wait for the Energy Agreement, which will give the sector an action perspective. “We are also arguing for a repair of the SDE grant. Linking this system to gas prices actually has the opposite effect on sustainability. ‘

Van Horen states that Rabobank includes the energy issue as standard in discussions about business plans. “We want to know from the entrepreneurs what their roadmap is for achieving the emission targets. Together we will also look at what is possible to work with energy savings within regions. Therefore, a greenhouse grower needs good neighbors, even more than before. And it does not have to be a colleague ‘.

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