Wind and geothermal use in northern US greenhouses
By Treena Hein
Running of the sprinkler pump, cooling of a building and the greenhouse fans at The Mustard Seed near Chaska, Minnesota are all being powered by the wind. Owner Mark Halla took advantage of federal grants to install the power generation system and expects payback in five years.
Halla also feeds into the grid and recently received income on his power bill of $753 US.
In 2011, The Mustard Seed won an Environmental Initiative Award from the Environmental Initiative group. These awards were established in 1994 to honor projects and their many partners, to inspire other organizations to create similar successful projects, and to encourage innovative collaborative approaches to environmental problem solving.
In 2011, The Mustard Seed also received a ‘Friend of the Environment Award’ from the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association, and a 2011 ‘Best of Chaska Award’ in the Garden Centers category by the U.S. Commerce Association.
For more on the Mustard Seed’s wind system, visit here.
Wind and more
Meanwhile, in Portage, Michigan, Elzinga Hoeksema Greenhouses is almost entirely energy self-sufficient at one of its four greenhouse operations using a variety of renewable energy sources.
At the company’s 12-acre New Millennium Greenhouses, solar, wind and geothermal technologies were installed, along with things like energy-saving curtains and high-pressure sodium lights.
Solar panels pre-heat water that is then brought to 120˚F by the geothermal system, which runs through 23 miles of in-floor piping. These green technologies provide 80 percent of the site’s heating needs and 99-percent efficient natural gas high-efficiency condensing boilers provide the rest. Power from two small wind turbines run fans that pump air between layers of plastic.
About $4 million was invested, and a nine-year payback is expected.
Many note that a greenhouse operation such as this would be restricted in size as the land required to house enough solar, wind and geothermal power generation equipment to provide enough power is substantial. Large electricity storage capacity would also be needed.