July 4, 2009 — “This is what climate protection looks like” is the catchphrase of the North American Acrylite® acrylic sheet climate protection campaign now being launched by Evonik Cyro. The company says that with its favourable heat insulation, Acrylite® Deglas high-impact acrylic double-skinned sheet reduces energy consumption in greenhouses, and therefore cuts CO2 emissions.
This means growers can make a regular contribution to climate protection and reduce their monthly overheads at the same time.
The central element of the campaign is the website, www.acrylite-and-energy.com. At this site, greenhouse operators can access information on each of the Acrylite® Deglas acrylic sheet products and review case studies.
“Saving energy means cutting costs and CO2. Greenhouses represent a major long-term investment. By planning with foresight and using Acrylite® Deglas sheet products, these potential savings can be secured for decades. That is an ideal combination,” says Michael Ehmann, North American Acrylite® Deglas manager.
Energy is a crucial cost factor for greenhouse operators. In North America, for instance, growers spend $1 to $2 per square foot heating their greenhouses in the winter and cooling them in the summer. Acrylite® Deglas sheet products, says the company, require much less energy due to their better insulation. Operators who make efficient use of energy not only make a positive contribution to climate protection, but also save money. For example, a greenhouse operator with eight acres of growing area might save over $250,000 annually on energy costs. As energy costs rise, this proportion also increases.
The company adds that greenhouses with Acrylite® Deglas sheet products enjoy higher light transmission, which makes many plant varieties grow faster and thrive better. This is a crucial advantage in the market, and is also worthwhile because of the reduced operating costs. On top of this, there is the material’s guaranteed service life, extreme toughness and low cleaning requirements, which substantially lower operating expenses.
Evonik now guarantees that clear Acrylite® Deglas sheet products will show no visible yellowing and retain their high light transmission for 30 years.
By Evonik Cyro
Threefold Energy Savings
Otto Bulk relies on green energy and Deglas
You don’t need to know the street name to find Otto Bulk. When you get to Dunnville, Ontario, all you have to do is cast your eye over the plain. Bulk’s Rosa Flora nursery is where the big wind turbine stands out.
The wind turbine is 75 metres tall and is used to supply electricity, at least most of the time. The weather conditions here in the Niagara region between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario are favourable. Rising electricity prices prompted Bulk to look for alternatives to traditional energy sources. “We wanted to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.” So he soon had the idea of using a wind turbine, which supplies up to 600 kilowatt-hours of electricity per day, a large share of the power his nursery needs.
And the business needs quite a lot of energy. The gerbera daisy, one of the star cut flowers produced at Rosa Flora Limited, is a sensitive little plant that poses a challenge for all growers, not just in Ontario’s variable climate with its long, dark winter months and hot summers. Tens of thousands of plants flourish in these greenhouses, and Bulk has learned to handle the vagaries of this northern climate.
The big differences in temperature are naturally reflected in the energy balance. Bulk is less worried about high energy prices than other growers, not just because he has installed his own wind power plant, but also because his company has been building its greenhouses with Acrylite® Deglas High Impact Acrylic Double-Skinned Sheet for many years. “The material’s high heat insulation saves us a lot of energy. Compared with glass, we save about one million dollars a year.”
Bulk relies on a real mixture of different energy sources as well as using Acrylite® Deglas and the wind turbine to combat rising energy prices. Following him and his constant companion, his dog Bo, through the exit of Plant 4, you find yourself on the way to the biomass boiler. This is a hive of activity. An excavator scoops up a huge pile of wood chips every few minutes and conveys it to the plant where it is prepared for combustion. “We use this to heat water to 90 degrees Celsius (194°F), which is circulated through the heating system for our greenhouses.”
Bulk has been in business for 30 years. He and his wife Corine started their company in 1978, initially specializing in roses. But they have modified their range over the years. “We just couldn’t compete with South American rose growers. The roses from there aren’t just cheaper, they are better, too,” he says. Today, the 150 workers at his nursery produce alstroemeria (Peruvian Lilies), snapdragons, Sweetheart Roses, stephanotis and gerbera within a cultivation area of 106,000 square metres.
Gerbera has become very popular. “You can see vases of gerbera on tables in every home and garden magazine, and of course we are responding to this development.”
Gerberas are the fifth most popular cut flower worldwide. What Bulk does not grow himself, he buys. In the cold store, he has freesias, statice, roses and anthurium that are waiting to be delivered in one of his 13 trucks.
About 20 per cent of his flowers go to shops in Canada, and the remainder goes across the border into the U.S.
Quality is the highest priority to stay in business in this market. Acrylite® Deglas helps growers do that because it transmits about 91 per cent of light, much more than conventional glass. “That makes our flowers more colourful and helps them grow faster and more vigorously.”
Bulk previously experimented with other materials. In the early 1990s, he installed several square feet of polycarbonate in one of his greenhouses. “We were not at all satisfied with the result,” he says. “The sheets quickly turned yellow and had to be replaced with Acrylite® Deglas.”
Meanwhile, a total of 80,000 square metres of Acrylite® Deglas All-Top acrylic double-skinned sheet have been installed at Rosa Flora.
Rosa Flora has come a good deal closer to its aim of growing flowers in an environmentally friendly and energy-efficient way, and becoming independent of conventional fuels. With his threefold combination of wind energy, wood heating and Acrylite® Deglas, he has become a kind of beacon in his branch of industry, not just because you can see his wind turbine from miles away, but also because he sets an example of state-of-the-art production. In 2006, he received a national award for his energy-saving concept.
Bulk looks with confidence to the future. His wind turbine will have been paid off in six to eight years, and he has no need to worry about his greenhouse glazing, which will go on ensuring optimum light yields and heat insulation for decades to come.
Acrylite® Deglas launches enviro-campaign
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