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Dutch Pepper grower De Wieringermeer invests in geothermal energy

Arco Vreugdenhil is the financial director of the Nursery De Wieringermeer. Taking into account its share in other companies both domestically and overseas, it is one of the largest pepper-devoted companies in the Netherlands. The nursery is on Agriport A7, along with eight others, connected to a geowarmth network powered by the company's Energy Combination Wieringermeer (ECW), in which the nursery has a shareholding. Arco: "We have not been in operation for long and we are still working on optimising a few minor glitches. So far, everything has been running smoothly."


Nursery De Wieringermeer (www.kwekerijdewieringermeer.nl)

Sustainability is a high priority, both for the nursery and the marketing cooperative Harvest House. In 2009, Arco already started investigating, preparing and making calculations. The latter revealed that it was unfortunately not profitable enough. Then came the Dutch SDE subsidy, and Adri Kuyper, of Ekwadraat, caught the company's attention in 2012. This pushed the project forward. "Later, Ekwadraat filled two subsidy requests and took charge of the entire project's supervision. But the questions which later arrived from the National Entrepreneurial Service of the Netherlands (RVO), were critical. Ekwadraat, with Adri as geothermal specialist, provided the knowledge."

Great savings 
Within five months the subsidy arrived, and in the spring of 2013 the drilling started. A year later, heat started to come up. Two geothermal doublets were set up via four wells. On an annual basis, this results in the saving of around twenty million cubic meters of natural gas; roughly the volume consumed by 13,000 households. It reduces Agriport's total heat costs by 15 %. 

Impact for the whole agricultural area 
A second project is in the greenhouse area of 't Grootslag, in Andijk, where the company Arco purchased a pepper nursery. There were already two SDE applications available and a concession for geothermal heat. Arco: "We are currently doing what the wisest move is; and the best way forward is to also start drilling there. Ekwadraat's good contacts with RVO, which provides the subsidies, are crucial to bringing the process to a successful end. If it works out, it will not only have a major positive impact for us, but also for the whole agricultural area of 't Grootslag. There are primarily five surrounding businesses that will benefit from the geothermal technology. We all have to work together; that works!"

Expert partners 
Although the current financial climate is unfavourable for new investments, the bank takes our requests seriously. This is because they are knowledgeable; they now know a lot about geothermal energy. And of course, Ekwadraat brings much expertise. An investment in Andijk does involve some fifteen to eighteen million Euro. 

The fact that your company becomes less dependent on the often turbulent energy market, is a strong argument for investing in geothermal energy; therefore, we are studying a new drilling at the Nursery De Wieringen. We will first wait for the final results of the two geothermal doublets on Agriport."

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