Minister Tineke Huizinga of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Development and the Environment gave the green light for the extension of the OCAP pipeline to the Zuidplaspolder on Monday 30 August in Waddinxveen. This pipeline is designed to supply CO2 from the Abengoa bioethanol factory in Rotterdam to 40 greenhouse market gardeners in the Zuidplaspolder.
When the market-gardening area in the Zuidplaspolder is further developed, new market gardeners will also be able to take delivery of CO2. CO2 promotes the growth of their plants. The project produces savings in the order of 25 million m3 of natural gas per year - approximately as much as that consumed by 16,000 households. The reduction in CO2 realised as a result amounts to 45 kilotons per year. This nicely matches the Zuidplaspolder's goal of achieving a CO2-neutral energy supply by 2020. In the meantime, OCAP - in which VolkerWessels and Linde Gas, among others, are participants - is supplying over 300 kilotons of CO2 per year to 500 greenhouse operators in the Randstad. The environmental gain results from the fact that the market gardeners are no longer required to burn fossil fuels to produce CO2. Instead they are using the CO2 released by Shell Pernis and Abengoa. Minister Huizinga gave the green light for the construction of the CO2 network by allowing herself to be driven into the inner gardens of the Marjoland rose nursery in an antique truck driven by Chairman of the Board of Management Gerard van de Aast.
"Let me get right to the point: I attach a great deal of importance to the sustainable development of the Zuidplas. This includes climate-proof and climate-neutral building and the development of sustainable greenhouse farming. These green developments also serve as an important example for the entire Zuidplas, other parts of the Netherlands and even beyond our own borders. I have therefore made an amount of € 24 million available for the development of a sustainable Zuidplas. The construction of a pipeline by OCAP is consistent with these sustainable plans. Indeed, supplying CO2 to market gardeners translates into environmental and economic gains. This is because it reduces the CO2 emissions of companies in the Rijnmond area, reduces gas consumption on the part of market gardeners and produces better market gardening products. By connecting to this network, market gardeners will save 25 million m3 of gas each year. This is equivalent to the average gas consumption of 16,000 households, or almost all inhabitants of the Zuidplas municipality!
In short, supplying CO2 to market gardeners is an interesting economic proposition for many parties. This initiative is also a good example of entrepreneurship well ahead of its time. Parties are demonstrating nerve and spunk. After all, we are living in economically uncertain times. We must not allow ourselves to become passive as a result, because this will delay the recovery of our economy. I therefore greatly appreciate this private sector initiative. While Brussels must still give a green light as well, I am fully confident that we will be able to move ahead full steam by the end of this year.
Of course, just like the marketplace, government must also accept its responsibility. It must be a reliable partner and provide the necessary freedom for market initiatives. And accelerate such initiatives and investments, for example, by simplifying procedures. The construction of a CO2 pipeline to the Zuidplaspolder is another step towards a fully sustainable greenhouse sector that invests in an innovative, economically strong and sustainable future! I am therefore confident that the collaboration between the OCAP and the greenhouse sector will ‘bear fruit'."
Chairman of the Board of Management, Gerard van de Aast: "By supplying CO2 to the Zuidplaspolder, we are once again investing in the CO2 distribution network. This is possible because progressive growers have shown confidence in us by continuing to develop this project into what it is today. I would like to thank these growers for the confidence they have shown in us. We would like to be of service to them in their efforts to improve their production with the CO2 we supply and to realise their environmental goals. Together, we will make this a success. By expanding the CO2 distribution network, we demonstrate that we want and dare to invest in the environment and in sustainability. Of course, this is because as companies we are involved in caring for our environment. Growers too want to leave the earth behind in a proper condition for their children. But we also invest in sustainability, because we see an opportunity to create business involving matters that are highly relevant to society. For us modern enterprise consists of investing in opportunities that will realise the Kyoto sustainability objectives as well as those of the Netherlands' government. As such, sustainability is no longer an abstract concept, but a challenge for entrepreneurs. Sustainability is a challenging business for VolkerWessels," according to Van de Aast.
"Additional sources are not available just like that. OCAP demands high-quality CO2 that can by no means be supplied by every potential source. A step must be taken towards the capture and reprocessing of CO2 from less pure sources, such as the flue gases produced by power plants. I would like to make the minister aware that this is costly and cannot be achieved without the proper incentives. This is unmistakeably a role set aside for government.
The supply of external CO2 is a key prerequisite for the realisation of sustainable greenhouse farming in the Zuidplaspolder. We are proud of the fact - that in spite of the economic headwind and the associated delay in the development of the area - the OCAP nevertheless managed to maintain the planned implementation schedule."
Last year, the government made € 24 million available for the sustainable and climate-proof design of the Zuidplaspolder between Rotterdam, Gouda and Zoetermeer. The allocation for the OCAP pipeline is conditional on approval by Brussels, which is expected this autumn. The plan calls for 7,000 homes to be realised between 2010 and 2020 in a rural and village living environment. Furthermore, 400 hectares are set aside for a wet/dry natural environment and water storage, and 200 hectares are set aside for new greenhouse farming. In combination with the necessary improvements in accessibility, the Zuidplaspolder will in the future significantly contribute to the Randstad's competitive strength. The Zuidplaspolder is designed to grow into an icon of sustainability. As such, there will be demonstration projects that are climate-proof (dwellings on stilts, roads that serve as compartmentalisation dikes, height-adjustable floors), as well as climate-neutral (insulation, use of solar, wind and thermal energy). Another special aspect is the impressive programme designed to reduce the CO2 emissions of the greenhouse sector and to transform its use of water into a sustainable activity.
Sustainability is Key
There are many market gardeners in the Zuidplaspolder. As soon as they can feed their greenhouses with CO2 from the Rotterdam Rijnmond region, they will no longer be dependent on burning natural gas to heat a boiler for producing CO2 and heat. This opens the door to a transition to a more sustainable energy supply. By furthermore linking market gardeners in an 'energy web' to residential districts, they can exchange heat and energy with residents. The goal is a rise of 40% in the share of sustainable energy. This is tenfold the norm in the greenhouse sector. The targeted reduction in CO2 emissions is 45,000 tonnes per year. This represents a reduction in emissions of more than half of the norm. Market gardeners, municipalities and the district water control board in Waddinxveen and Zuidplas are going to implement a closed water system, whereby, for example, waste water will be purified and stored in the soil. This 100% reduction in water consumption precludes the need for pumping groundwater, as well as the need for constructing a drainage system.