The position of gas generators in glasshouse horticulture is regularly discussed. Dutch horticulture is really looking for an alternative to boilers and gas fired motors. More and more horticulturists are interested in the possibilities of geothermal heat as a primary source of heat. Recently the first water was pumped at Green Well Westland and drilling was started in the glasshouse horticultural area Californie in Limburg, the Netherlands recently. The horticulturists who believe in geothermal heat have all one thing in common. At one time they all visited the garden of the family van den Bosch in Bleiswijk. The geothermal pioneers of the Netherlands.
Bart van den Bosch
Geothermal heat is hot. Bart van den Bosch knows all about it. Together with his brother Rik and sister Petra he runs the beef tomato nursery A and G van den Bosch. About six years ago the growers started planning for a new source of heat. "We first of all thought about what we really wanted from our energy supply" Bart van den Bosch explains. "The gas generator was developing at that time. We also had a small one. As our experience with this generator was not too good and we did not have immediate plans to invest in this again, although it looked good at that moment."
"At that time Al Gore with his film and sustainability program travelled the world" Bart says enthusiastically. Sustainability appealed to us. And probably our customers as well. Therefore we started looking for a sustainable source of heat and quickly started collecting some information about geothermal heat. Not much information about this was available in the Netherlands. With the cooperation of TNO and Platform Geothermie an investigation about the possibilities was set up and the results appeared to be favourable. For all of us this was new. Originally one thinks this would be very complicated and far too expensive. But when we obtained more information we discovered more and more advantages. We also went to Paris for a look. There are flat buildings, which have, for more than thirty years been heated by geothermal heat. It looked so simple."
After it became clear that sufficient heat was available in the area of the beef tomato nursery the permit application was filed. Bart: Apart from the permit we also received a subsidy from the government. Also we received a guarantee arrangement from the ministry. The government really assisted us very well.
At van den Bosch two sources of geothermal heat have been drilled in the meantime. Bart: "In first instance we drilled the first one, which went 1600 m. deep. We now pump up water at 61 °C. As this drilling was so successful we decided to drill another one. This one finally went to 2100 m. From this source the water temperature is 65 °C. For us this is ideal. If we do not need it immediately we store the water in a buffer tank. When short of heat, for instance, during the winter, then I can reheat with our boiler. When we changed to geothermal heat the OCAP CO2 became available. That was therefore a perfect match."
In the meantime A+G van den Bosch is the largest beef tomato nursery in the Netherlands. The total 26 HA company sells its tomatoes via The Greenery, the sales organisation, which has sustainability close to its heart. Bart tells: Sustainability is for us as growers very important, but also for the client. Perhaps not every customer is quite as interested, but I just know that it is important for a large number. And this number increases all the time. Certainly since we have been using geothermal heat we notice that we attract more clients. We attach a lot of value to that, our clients are important to us. We try and visit our clients every year, even when we have to go to Italy or Spain. A good relationship with your client is the basis of a good cooperation and a satisfied customer."
The new consumer directed website of the company www.vleestomaat.nl
The brothers and sister van den Bosch attach, as mentioned, a lot of value to the relationship with their clients. Therefore they gave their website a throrough going-over recently. "Our new website (www.vleestomaat.nl
) is entirely directed towards the customer. It is available in various languages and one can even find recipes on it. Also one may buy our tomatoes via the digital vegetable shop Vers van de Kweker (Fresh from the Grower). We enjoy doing this. There are many possibilities with these sales, which are directed at the consumer."
According to Bart there will be more growers who will look for geothermal heat in the short term. In the meantime more information has become available about geothermal heat. "The knowledge we have via a demo project made known over a period of three years. After that my brother Rikstarted as a part time advisor to a drilling company, the German Daldrup. There is a lot of interest in geothermal heat and it is definitely the future. It was rather a big investment, make no mistake, but 10 years from now heat will still come up and if all goes well it will still be happening after 20 years. In any case I am fully confident about this!"