EXCLUSIVE – energy management update from Alberta
By Treena Hein
Here is what’s happening in Alberta with regard to greenhouse energy use and efficiencies, from Dr. Mohyuddin Mirza of the Alberta Greenhouse Growers Association.
Mirza says 79 per cent of Alberta greenhouse growers use natural gas as an energy source, with the remaining 12 per cent using coal, 2 per cent using wood, 4 per cent oil or propane, and 2 per cent electricity.
“Due to stable price of natural gas, there has been no investment in the use of wood biomass for heating the greenhouses,” Mirza explains. “There has been significant investment in the use of supplemental High Pressure Sodium Lights (installed capacity of 15,000 lux) to grow vegetables in winter, and that provides about 30 per cent of heat as well.” He says about 21 percent of the cucumbers grown in Alberta are grown under these lights, used from October to February and sometimes on cloudy days.
Mirza says since heating costs as part of operating costs have dropped over the past year and vegetable prices are the lowest they have been in years, growers are not investing in any new energy related projects at this time.
“The interest in utilization of waste heat is always there by the companies who produce natural gas or others, but they have generally stayed to a feasibility level by summer students and have not progressed beyond,” he notes.