Houweling’s Tomatoes started growing hydroponic greenhouse tomatoes in 1985 with a 2.5-hectare facility in Delta, B.C., and has since expanded its growing operation to 20 hectares (50 acres) today. The facility grows eight kinds of tomatoes that range from large tomatoes-on-the-vine to strawberry tomatoes. Canadian greenhouses are commonly very energy intensive, and most of the consumed energy is related to heating at relatively low temperatures. The heat is typically supplied by burning natural gas (or wood in some occasions) to heat water, which then acts as the carrier of the heat energy to the greenhouse. Considering the energy costs and volatility of fuel prices, most Canadian greenhouse growers presently search for ways to reduce their fuel-based energy consumption and improve their overall energy sustainability through considering alternative or complementary energy solutions.
The first step towards adopting a sound energy saving or alternative energy policy for a greenhouse operation is to explore all viable resources and technologies available for reducing fuel-based energy consumption, and to cut energy costs. For this project, we conducted a comprehensive energy audit and planning consisting of strategies to 1- increase overall energy efficiency and reduce energy losses, 2- identify alternative fuels or alternative green energy sources, 3- increase the overall economical and environmental sustainability, and increase energy security of the operation and 4- adopt the state-of-the-art technologies to maximize the value of the energy supply and enhance the energy recycling, saving, and storing capabilities of the system.