A household waste disposal company in Alkmaar (HVC Alkmaar) will be supplying the greenhouses of the NH Paprika sweet pepper farm in Heerhugowaard with residual heat. This sweet pepper farm is the very first business in the Alton greenhouse horticulture area to start using this sustainable energy at the end of this year. Both parties recently signed an agreement that will connect the farm to the heat network of the household waste disposal company.

With 11 hectares of sweet peppers and a consumption of 5 million m3 per year, NH Paprika is the largest consumer of natural gas in the Alton area, which is located in the Dutch province of Noord-Holland. As set out in the agreement, HVC Alkmaar will be investing in connecting its existing heat network with the Alton greenhouse horticulture area. By the end of this year, an 8.5 km connection will be made from the HVC Alkmaar heat network to the greenhouse site. This will enable the growers in the area around Heerhugowaard to use sustainable energy to heat their greenhouses in the years to follow: an important step towards realising their ambition to stop using fossil fuels for cultivation by 2030.

Green heat

According to Alderman Monique Stam the green heat supplied through the heat network will enhance sustainability throughout the entire municipality of Heerhugowaard. In addition to the greenhouses, other buildings such as private residences, offices and commercial properties will also be able to tap into the heat network in the following years. Last year, the Municipal Council expressed its commitment to connecting at least 2500 private residences to the heat network in the next decade to come. The heat network is part of a collaborative venture initiated by government bodies and the corporate community, who have joined forces to enhance the sustainability of the greenhouse horticulture industry in the Alton area, explains area coordinator Dave Vlaming of the Ontwikkelingsbedrijf NHN development corporation.

The future of the Alton greenhouse horticulture site

As an independent area coordinator, Ontwikkelingsbedrijf NHN has been engaged in making the Alton area future-proof for the past five years. This project is being carried out in collaboration with various entrepreneurs, the Province of North Holland, the Municipality of Heerhugowaard and Koggenland, the Rabobank, the Stivas foundation for improving agricultural structure, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, the Dutch platform for greenhouse horticulturists LTO Glaskracht and Alkmaar HVC. “During the 2008 economic crisis the future of this greenhouse area was looking everything but rosy, but Alton is now starting to take on an exemplary function with regard to enhancing sustainability and promoting closed loop horticulture. The construction of the heat network is a tremendous breakthrough in future-proofing the Alton area. Thanks to the heat network, more businesses are expressing an interest in making investments here, and the area is also attracting entrepreneurs from outside. Several years ago Gootjes Allplant established itself in Alton, followed by Verver Export last year. Another four companies from outside have expressed an interest in relocating to Alton. Amigo Plant purchased a 10-hectare site here last year,” confirms Vlaming.

Alton is the oldest of three areas in the northern part of the province of Noord-Holland to boast a dense concentration of greenhouse horticulture enterprises. Together with Het Grootslag near Andijk and Enkhuizen, and Agriport A7 in Middenmeer (where greenhouse horticulture enterprises cover 60 hectares of greenhouses on average), these three locations are responsible for the large-scale production of horticulture products in the Netherlands.

Source: HVC. Photo: HVC/Marc Dorleijn.