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Menno Ammerlaan, The Green Innovator

"Geothermal problems were miserable, but now we see opportunities"

Next year they’ll take a step back in time at Ammerlaan The Green Innovator. Just like in 2010, a large installation will be placed at the potted plant nursery to drill a geothermal doublet. Due to a break in the supply line, the current installation is unusable. "Miserable," according to Menno Ammerlaan. "But after a bad week, we see new opportunities to build this into something positive."

A straight breakage at 1,000 meter depth renders the supply line of Ammerlaan The Green Innovator's geothermal source currently unusable. "We think it‘s because there is no more elasticity in the material," says Menno Ammerlaan. "Since the source was regularly switched on and off, during the first few years. The material expands every time when switched on, and shrinks again after the system is switched off. And we cannot actually bring the material to the surface to see what has happened."

There are two possible solutions for the break. The first solution is the insertion of a narrower tube, so repair is possible. "But the chance of succeeding is relatively small and if it would succeed, the capacity could possibly still be reduced by 50%," Menno says. That's why they go for the second option: a whole new doublet.

The new doublet is a costly investment. Not only because two new wells need to be drilled, but also because it can be done only next year. Until then, Ammerlaan has to provide their own nursery as well as the connected growers and houses with warmth. The boiler and CHP are currently running strong. "We feel committed to this," Menno confirms. "We’re a complete supplier of heat - our customers do not need to look after it." That choice was made rightly. "Because we take care of everything, we have also been able to connect a lot of parties. We are pleased with that, also because we believe in geothermal heat as a sustainable solution. Connecting so many parties is only possible if you take proper care of your customers."

Ending the well is also because of that reason, not an option. "We have connected so many parties that we cannot possibly stop. And we believe in geothermal heat for the future. It remains the most sustainable form of heating." It’s a shame that there is no insurance or risk fund to cover the millions in damage. "That is how it is", says Menno. "If we look at the whole project, we see more things that, in hindsight, have cost money unnecessarily. This is part of business and certainly if you are the first to do such a project, you are bound to make mistakes through ignorance. Luckily we do not have to make these anymore."

Better well
Menno is now able to look at the positive sides of the situation. "In the beginning, I found it really terrible, but now we also see the opportunities that new drilling offers. Because we were the first to have a geothermal well, we had little knowledge at that time. Now we know that in fact we should have drilled somewhat deeper. That opportunity we will have now. This might just double the efficiency of the well and we can grow again." These additional connections are also needed to recover the investment in the well. It is really possible, we have companies on the waiting list to be connected.

The break that Menno wanted to take last year, after years of geothermal heat, to fully concentrate again on the nursery, is not going to happen. "Last year December I thought I was ready. The installation was completely satisfactory, so I was planning to do something else for three years. That is not happening now, that’s the reality of it. Now we are working to turn misery into something positive."

For more information:
Ammerlaan TGI
Nootdorpseweg 15
2641 BK Pijnacker
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