A delegation from a greenhouse horticulture community in the Belgian city of Kempen and representatives several government agencies visited a geothermal well and a cluster of horticulture firms in the Dutch province of IJsselmuiden. The Belgian representatives examined the feasibility of this source of energy in their own country.

Greenhouse horticulture is an important economic sector not only in the municipalities of Hoogstraten, Rijkevorsel and Merksplas, but also in the province of Antwerp, and one in which sustainability will remain a key issue in the next few years to come. A shared interest in sustainability is one of the reasons why these municipalities, together with the Flemish government, the Province of Limburg and various industry associations are looking into alternative sources of energy for heating their greenhouses. In the Dutch municipality of IJsselmuiden, located in the ‘Koekoekspolder’ greenhouse horticulture area, a deep geothermal well provides five greenhouse horticulturists with geothermal heat. The geothermal heat is extracted at a depth of approximately 1900 metres.

Great enthusiasm

Everyone present was given extensive information about the project. Aside from the technical aspects, which could also be applied to projects in Antwerp, several other critical success factors were extensively discussed. These included the risks associated with the realisation of the project, the complex financing issues and the current price of natural gas.

The Flemish delegation was informed that the project owes its success to the outstanding collaboration between the various stakeholders, the execution of a long-term vision on sustainable energy and the perseverance exhibited by the horticulturists and the project leader. The visit was received with great enthusiasm from the Flemish guests. They are all assured that they will be able to realise similar projects through collaborative efforts within the greenhouse horticulture industry in the province of Antwerp.

Economic importance

‘Not only is greenhouse horticulture of tremendous economic importance to the province of Antwerp, sustainability is also a key priority on our agenda,’ says Ludwig Caluwé, the Provincial Executive member for economic affairs. He joined the delegation of greenhouse horticulture municipalities on their visit to the geothermal well site, which enabled them to gain a clear insight into how sustainability and greenhouse horticulture can be aligned. Greenhouse horticulture and geothermal energy can support one another through the realisation of an energy cluster in a greenhouse horticulture area.

Source: press release. Photo: koekoekspolder.nl