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CHP growth in From the Editor: August 2015

Fuelling Optimism towards CHP Growth

July 13, 2015  By Dave Harrison

August 2015 — We could be on the verge of a sizeable combined, heat and power (CHP) expansion in the Ontario greenhouse sector.

And that’s good news for the industry, and good news for the province.

And it’s long, long overdue.


About half the energy burned in large-scale fossil fuel-fired power plants is heat that is discharged into the environment via cooling water or stacks. That’s inefficient.

CHP produces electricity, like the power plants, and captures the waste heat and CO2. The total efficiency for fuel conversion within a CHP system is said to be about 90 per cent, since the heat is utilized onsite while the electricity is generated either for onsite use (lights and motors, etc.) or for distribution on grid. Capturing the CO2 in the flue gases boosts the efficiency even further.

Greenhouse CHP projects, also known as cogeneration, now supply 10 to 15 per cent of electricity generation in the Netherlands.

As well, Cogen Europe, the
European Association for the Promotion of Cogeneration, has estimated the systems have spared Europe about 200 million tonnes of CO2 each year.

Early last December, the Ontario government announced its new CHP program targeting greenhouse, agrifood and district energy projects.

This was followed by a media conference several weeks ago at which provincial Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli pointed to a recently awarded CHP project being
undertaken by three Leamington-area greenhouse growers.

Cervini Farms, C.L. Solutions and Brunato Farms are developing a combined heat and power electricity generating facility to supply power to the electricity grid.

The projects are part of the province’s Combined heat and Power Standard Offer Program (CHPSOP).

Another Leamington operation – AMCO Farms – was granted a reduction in electricity costs until the end of 2024 in return for expanding its existing production facilities under the province’s Industrial Electricity Incentive (IEI) program.

“Ontario’s greenhouse operators are an essential part of Ontario’s economy,” Chiarelli said. “The IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) programs we are highlighting today will reduce electricity costs and allow successful proponents to expand production to meet growing demand.”

Why can’t there be more CHP projects across the province, and indeed across the country?

“CHP for heat and CO2 production for greenhouse applications can pay back in a remarkably short period of time, ranging anywhere from one and a half to three years in favourable conditions,” energy specialist Stefan De Wit of Cummins noted in a January 2015 feature in Greenhouse Canada. “Greenhouses around the world are increasingly recognizing these benefits and are adding CHP to the other technologies that help them promote plant growth and operate more profitably.”

It’s good for the environment, and good for taxpayers who foot the bill for costly – and comparatively inefficient – power stations.

We’ll always need those stations to meet the bulk of our energy needs, but cogen makes so much sense in covering peak demand periods.

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