Gas and electricity

At De Zuidplas nursery, we generate energy with the help of 700 solar panels, among other things. These can produce up to two megawatts per day on sunny days. This is equivalent to two million watts. To illustrate, the average family uses around 7,500 watts per day. We can use the power we generate to run our sorting machines, other machinery, pumps, and computers. 

In addition to our solar panels, we also have a Combined Heat and Power system (CHP) that we use to produce not only energy, but also heat and CO2 at the same time. 

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Scrollfoto gerbera

How our CHP works

A CHP runs on gas and uses it to produce electricity, heat, and CO2. All these elements are used in our greenhouse. We use the electricity for lighting. The heat helps to create an ideal climate and the CO2 is absorbed by the plants as a nutrient that helps them grow. 

Optimum use of energy and heat 

Of course, we do not always need the same amounts of electricity, heat, and CO2. Sometimes we turn on the CHP unit to produce CO2 even if we do not need any electricity or heat at that moment. And sometimes our solar panels generate more power than we are using at the time. In both cases, we make sure that the heat and energy are not wasted. 

Heat storage

Whenever we produce heat but do not need it immediately, we store it in a buffer tank. This is a large, well-insulated water tank above ground. We use the heat generated by the CHP to heat this water. As soon as we need heat again, such as at nighttime, we can retrieve the hot water from the tank and use it to heat our greenhouse with the help of a heat exchanger. This means that we don’t have to turn on the CHP specifically for this purpose. 

Sharing electricity

We do the same with electricity. Whenever we generate more energy than we use, we can feed the surplus energy back to ‘the grid’. This ensures that no energy is lost and we help the grid operator maintain an optimum balance on the network. Find out exactly how this works in our section on technology. 

CO2 from Shell

At times, we may need CO2 even though our heat buffer is full and the grid operator does not need any electricity. When this happens, we don’t turn on our CHP but instead obtain CO2 from Shell. Click here to find out how everyone benefits from this situation.   

LED lighting

In the winter, it is often too dark during the daytime for gerberas to grow. We therefore give them additional lighting. We only do this during the day. The gerbera is what we call a ‘short-day plant’. It forms its flower buds during periods of darkness and allows its flowers to grow during the daytime when it is light. In the past, we used SON-T lamps for our gerberas. We have since replaced these with LED lighting, which has saved us a considerable amount of energy.

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