Greenhouse to tap biomass plant for waste heat and water
By Brandi Cowen
A renewable energy-powered, year-round local food growing and wholesale grower’s hub is taking root in Rutland County, Vt.
Under an agreement announced last week, Vermont Hydroponic Produce LLC will build a 10-acre greenhouse complex adjacent to the proposed Fair Haven Biomass Energy Center. Using low-grade steam, waste heat and waste water from the biomass power plant, Vermont Hydroponic Produce plans to grow tomatoes and other vegetables year-round.
“Our current Vermont business is ready to grow, to take-off really,” said Jeff Jones, managing partner of Vermont Hydroponic Produce. “By partnering with a renewable energy facility, we can turn low grade heat, which has little usefulness to the power or pellet manufacturing facility into our affordable energy. This is a great chance to grow our closed-loop, completely sustainable and renewable local food model.”
Vermont Hydroponic Produce LLC will also site an expansion of their growers hub service at the Energy Center. Grower’s Hub is the company’s innovative, high-tech system that brokers the sale and transfer of locally grown food from smaller, independent growers to buyers from large grocery stores all over the northeastern United States.
“The Fair Haven Biomass Energy Center will be one of the most efficient and innovative facilities in the nation,” said Tom Emero from Beaver Wood Energy, the company behind the energy centre. “We are proud to announce formal plans to bring together into one sustainable business system local energy, local heat, and local food. It is truly a remarkable opportunity that promises good paying jobs to hundreds of people,” he added.
The proposed Fair Haven Biomass Energy Center now includes:
- A 10-acre greenhouse complex allowing a major business expansion for Vermont Hydroponic Produce LLC.
- A state-of-the art 30MW biomass power converting sustainably harvested local waste wood into enough locally produced, base-load power for 34,000 homes.
- A wood-pellet manufacturing business that recycles thermal energy from the power plant to make enough clean pellets to heat 27,000 homes.