Towards gas-free greenhouses: innovative ideas for greenhouse horticulture in Emmen

04-03-2021

Students of the part-time degree programme Environmental Sciences at VHL University of Applied Sciences (HVHL) have investigated innovative ideas that could contribute to the sustainable development of the Erica/Klazienaveen greenhouse region and give the area a new impetus. The Northern Netherlands is the first region to receive a subsidy for a so-called Hydrogen Valley. This makes Groningen, Drenthe and Friesland European hydrogen frontrunners. There are far-reaching plans to achieve a fully functioning green hydrogen chain. This offers a unique opportunity to wean the greenhouses off natural gas and accelerate the transition to hydrogen.

Since hydrogen combustion releases no CO2 , but plant growth does require CO2, this offers opportunities for capturing CO2 at companies in the vicinity and utilising the captured CO2 in the greenhouses. Companies can thus save millions in CO2 taxes every year.

In Emmen, there are plans for a hydrogen plant on the site of the former gas desulphurization plant (GZINext), which will produce 10 megawatts with future capacity expansion. Greenhouse horticulture could become a major consumer of the cleanly produced hydrogen economy. In doing so, they contribute to the robust development of the green hydrogen plant.

Green Deal

At the moment, green hydrogen is still a rather expensive source of energy. However, various forms of subsidy are available for the development of the hydrogen economy. Considerable sums of money are made available by Green Deal. Using subsidies tactically can help bridge the time gap until a competitive price for green hydrogen is achievable.

OCAP Nederland has experience with the realisation of CO2 capture for greenhouse horticulture in Westland, among other places. The advantage is that CO2 producers pay less CO2 tax. The costs for installation and transport can thus be partially covered. Moreover, this contributes to lower CO2 emissions in the air and the aforementioned subsidies can also be put to good use. This will contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. The SDGs are a global compass for tackling global challenges as diverse as poverty, education, energy transition and the climate crisis. The SDG ‘Sustainable cities and communities’ serves as a basis to breathe new life into greenhouse horticulture around Emmen with fresh innovative ideas.

Opportunities

The application of innovative techniques also offers opportunities for schools and other knowledge institutes to develop study disciplines in this field. This will make the region more attractive to educated young people to stay and continue living and working there.

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