How does Metrolina Greenhouses keep 200 acres of greenhouses warm in the winter months? Director of Operations Mark Lykins explains the whole process in this video below, which they posted on their Facebook page.
"We certainly don't need it right now, but when the night temperatures dip down to around 50 degrees Fahrenheit beginning in about September, we start to think about firing up our four wood biomass boilers. The boilers were sourced from Belgium in 2010, and they have been going strong ever since, providing 95% of our heating needs each year. The boilers burn an average of 40,000 tons of wood annually. That's about 2,000 tractor trailer loads of wood waste from the local forestry and construction industries that would otherwise end up in a landfill."
They source the wood locally, chip it on-site, and store it in a 4-acre barn that can hold up to a month's worth of woodchips. "Each boiler can produce 8 megawatts of energy. Put another way, it takes almost 57,000 gallons of natural gas to produce one megawatt of energy - and 450,000 gallons to produce 8 megawatts. On any given day, the biomass boilers will heat almost 7 million gallons of water to pump through the greenhouses and keep the plants warm. It takes a 5-person team to keep these boilers running at their highest efficiency 24/7."
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