NZ: growers turn off the heat as coal and gas prices soar

Many indoor growing operations use gas or coal boilers to heat their glasshouses. There has been a nationwide shortage of commercial carbon dioxide supplies, and the cost of using coal is going up. Leanne Roberts sits on the board of Vegetables New Zealand and is a covered crop grower in Marlborough.

She said energy prices were causing a lot of headaches for growers. "I've heard of growers choosing to limit their heating, and I've heard of growers shutting their doors because of all of the changes. There are a lot of things that are causing a lot of uncertainty."

"We've also heard of people considering whole crop changes, so they're no longer going to be growing year-round. They're looking at converting to seasonal crops that don't necessarily require heating. These are the difficult decisions people need to make for the businesses."

Coal is getting harder to source, and the cost of transporting it from the West Coast is only increasing, she said. That, combined with the cost of paying for coal emissions through the Emissions Trading Scheme, has led Leanne Roberts to convert the coal-fired boiler at her own business into a biomass one in the middle of winter.

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