Horticulture | Energy Innovations

Horticulture

Biomass for Horticulture

The use of biomass in the horticulture sector has increased over the last decade, encouraged by:

  • the relatively high cost of energy as a proportion of total operating costs;
  • the ongoing price volatility of the more traditional fossil fuels that have dominated the sector (natural gas, LPG and oil);
  • business carbon taxes and the impact of them on those that continue to use significant amounts of fossil fuels;
  • the financial encouragement provided by the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) for biomass;
  • the benefit of using of CO2 from biomass boilers to help encourage plant growth for ornamentals (and edibles when flue gas cleaning technology is used) .

Our systems have involved working with clients’ existing or upgraded smart environmental control systems to manage heat, CO2 and humidity in the glasshouses. This has required a communication link between the Glasshouse Control System and the boilers that we have installed, to ensure heat is delivered into the large buffer tank(s) on demand.

Clients include Haygrove, Bell Brothers, Medlar Fruit Farms and JA Collinson and Son.

Fuel

Energy Innovations has installed numerous biomass heat-only systems serving Glasshouses.  To date, these have all been fuelled by low grade woodchip and range from 550kW to 2MW with large capacity walking floor fuel transfer systems.

Polytechnik, our larger capacity boiler supplier has developed boilers that are capable of burning a wider range of biomass fuels including straw and miscanthus.  We see these being of interest to Growers in the East of England, in particular.

Glasshouses

Within the last decade biomass heating has become a significant new feature of the UK Glasshouse sector.   It now features heavily among the enterprises of both the edible and ornamental producers.

The industry is ideally suited to utilise highly efficient distributed biomass energy projects as the heat use is not only relatively high but the Glasshouses themselves are often tightly grouped and with their own existing heat emission systems that can be connected to or easily adapted for biomass.

Polytunnels

Another significant related sector for biomass application are producers using polytunnels to grow commercial soft-fruit. With the chance of extended seasonal production we have recently installed systems in Kent and Herefordshire.


The Future

Looking forward, we are using our CHP experience to develop glasshouse projects that include not only heat but electrical power for LED lighting with the possibility of increased light exposure for plant growth.