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Ralph de Boer, Rosa Flora:

"Cogen makes “good earth sense and good business"

Rosa Flora is one of the few greenhouse growers in Ontario that uses combined heat and power technology (CHP) to generate electricity, CO2 and heat for their greenhouse operations. While cogeneration is a technology that makes greenhouse growing an even greener industry, not many growers have adapted the technology yet, due to the sometimes complicated local regulations and the lack of a decent grid to deliver electricity back. According to Rosa Flora's Ralph de Boer, his company has made a long-term commitment to Combined Heat and Power within its greenhouses based on a business philosophy of investing in equipment that makes “good earth sense and good business."

In 1991, Rosa Flora implemented the first two Cat G3516 generator sets in their greenhouse operation to provide a flexible supply of electrical power for lighting and an economical source for heating water. As they experienced great results with these two installations, the growers installed additional gensets simultaneously with the expansion of their acreage. Nowadays they have 4 generators with a capacity of 2 Mw each.

"Cogeneration helps us to produce flowers in the most sustainable way possible," said Rosa Flora's Ralph De Boer. "We transform natural gas into electricity and heat; two of the most important things that we need to produce our flowers year round. At the same time, we have a permit to deliver the electricity that we do not need back to the grid, which makes it a very interesting technology for us as well."

At the beginning of this year, after their strong recovery from the devastating fire, the Dunville based cut flower grower announced the expansion of their Lisianthus and Snapdragon production. According to grower Ralph de Boer, the expansion demands a well thought out energy strategy in their production.

"Especially the lisianthus is a crop that demands a lot of heat, year round. Even during the warm summers we have our cogens running in order to make sure that the lisianthus are growing in the climate that it prefers. During the winter months we also use the additional biomass boilers to heat our greenhouses. Thanks to three large heat storage tanks, we are able to run the gensets or boilers individually at the desired moment, to make sure that we produce as efficiently as possible."

For more information on Rosa Flora:

For more information on CAT CHP's in Canada: