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Edwin Valkenburg, AgroEnergy:

"NL: "Less gas, more heat, this is the moment"

The gas consumption must be reduced and we must organize this together. This has been the big news in the world of energy in the Netherlands lately. That is why, according to Edwin Valkenburg of AgroEnergy, now is the right time to get things done by the government, so that horticulture can take a big step forward towards an energy-neutral sector. AgroEnergy can and wants to play a major role in this.

Sustainability of energy supply has been a priority for a long time, also for the government. Nevertheless, these matters are only lately really gaining momentum, says Edwin Valkenburg, developer of heat projects at AgroEnergy. "Of course, we have the Paris climate agreement, but in spite of that, sustainability did not receive sufficient attention until now."



Substantial changes
Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate recently wrote several letters, to get big companies off the gas and to give a boost to the advancement of geothermal energy. "The central message here is that gas consumption really needs to be reduced and that the involved parties have to do this together. Growers still tend to think that this sustainability will be progressing slowly and that gas still will be available during the coming decades. However, recently the first signs came that substantial changes are going to happen, that existing certainties in the energy supply will disappear. So it is questionable whether in the long term we still will have gas available and if so, whether this gas will be affordable; things are really going to change!"

Need for heat infrastructure
Valkenburg mentions that it is now favorable for the horticulture sector to turn to the national government and to indicate what it takes to make a substantial move towards sustainability. "The minister has indicated that he wants to tackle this challenge together with the sector. Which is why this is the time to make clear that we can take major steps. As an industry, we are ready for it, but we do need support."

According to Valkenburg, a good heat infrastructure is desperately needed. "This way you can make links, for example, between the residual heat of the port area of Rotterdam and the Conurbation of Western Holland and the horticulture industry in Westland and Oostland. Investments in such an infrastructure are still too risky for a commercial party; a government however is the designated party to realize this. You can also link individual initiatives and small networks. In addition, new heat sources will be created and connected sooner. This could be a geothermal source, but also a bio-CHP or the use of the heat return of a heating network. Once a heating network is constructed, demand will come by itself. This will result in open heating networks, whereby everyone can supply and purchase, and the price of heat is determined by the (heat) market."

Support for addressing heat demand
AgroEnergy wants to and can play a major role in the sustainable energy transition within greenhouse horticulture. "We are already involved in many projects and initiatives to support entrepreneurs in the sustainable addressing of their heat demand. Hereby we are primarily a partner for the grower and/or project developer: we are more than just a heat supplier. Together with the project partners we establish the heat demand and we calculate how this can be achieved best. We deem it important to directly involve the growers in this process. If there are still partners missing within the project (for example a geothermal source developer), we can propose candidates from our extensive business network. Together we take the project from initiative to the actual supply of heat.

Thanks to our broad role and involvement, we as AgroEnergy have a good insight in where the opportunities are - but also the challenges! - on the way to sustainable greenhouse horticulture. We use this know-how for the benefit of the sector. And if the aforementioned heat infrastructure is realized, we are very confident that the greenhouse horticulture can produce energy-neutral by 2040. But as I’ve said earlier, we have to take the right steps together and get the government involved."

For more information:
AgroEnergy
Elektronicaweg 41
2628 XG Delft
Netherlands
T +31 (0)88 - 895 45 45
F +31 (0)88 - 895 45 50
info@agro-energy.nl
www.agro-energy.nl

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