Greenhouses to help power electrical grid
The Windsor Star: Sharon Hill, September 1, 2007
KINGSVILLE - A Kingsville greenhouse will be the first in Ontario to produce
electricity to sell to the power grid.
Great Northern Hydroponics, a 50-acre tomato greenhouse near Ruthven, is
building a $20-million tri-generation complex that will burn natural gas to
produce heat and carbon dioxide for the greenhouses and electricity to sell. The
12-megawatt project should be running by December.
"This is unique to Canada and certainly unique to Ontario and it's the first one
of its kind," said Energy Minister Dwight Duncan Friday as he and Essex MPP
Bruce Crozier got a look at the construction.
Although the same technology has been used in Europe for years, it's the first
application of it in North America, said Yale Levin, executive vice-president of
Soave Enterprises which owns Great Northern Hydroponics.
Ontario has an agreement to buy the electricity for eight to eleven cents per
kilowatt. Duncan said that's in the same range as wind power.
The province estimates it can get 200 to 300 megawatts of power out of
Southwestern Ontario through the program over the next few years which Duncan
said is the power equivalent of half a nuclear reactor.
Duncan said the Kingsville project is very efficient and good for the
"In terms of climate change and what we're able to do, this is taking 20 tonnes
of CO2 (carbon dioxide) a year out of the atmosphere and providing electricity
and helping keep the greenhouse industry competitive and viable," Duncan said.
"It's the way of the future."
The greenhouse industry has been looking at co-generation or tri-generation
projects and alternative fuels to combat the high cost of natural gas. Instead
of buying natural gas just to heat the greenhouses, the systems also burn the
natural gas to make electricity. And the tomato plants need the captured carbon
Darrin Didychuk, president of Great Northern Hydroponics, said the technology is
critical to the survival of the greenhouse industry in the next 20 years.
"The objective is to bring down our cost of heating in the greenhouse," he told
the MPPs as they got a quick tour Friday.
Didychuk said the same technology could be applied to small and large
greenhouses and the engines could be modified to take other fuels such as animal
waste or crops.
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