The tomato growers from Dutch growers organisation Prominent have sounded the alarm because of a large shortage of CO2. They need carbon dioxide to grow their plants properly.
The emergency call follows problems in the delivery of CO2 at the end of June. Together with Glastuinbouw Nederland, the growers are calling for new sources to be opened up to prevent supply shortages in the future.
By switching more and more to sustainable energy sources, such as geothermal heat, growers themselves produce less and less CO2 with their boilers and CHPs (combined heat and power). "If solutions to the CO2 deficit are not available, this could be the bottleneck for further sustainability," warns Jacco Besuijen, energy manager of Prominent.
There is enough CO2 and too much of it in the open air is harmful to the environment. But then it still needs to be captured and purified for use in the greenhouses. "CO2 always comes from fossil fuel sources," says Besuijen, "so for example factories in the port and large industries. But the capture is the last link in a chemical process and for those factories, the sale of CO2 is a side issue. We also cannot pay the top price for CO2, and they will not postpone maintenance to the plant especially for horticulture."
And so, growers must buy more externally if they themselves continue to become more sustainable with, for example, geothermal heat. Besuijen: "If we continue to become more sustainable, then the shortage will only increase. And too little CO2 causes the plants to slow their growth and ultimately to lower production."
According to Besuijen, the problem does not only apply to tomato growers, but to the entire horticultural sector, also in floriculture. "There are now some initiatives at waste incineration plants to capture CO2. If something extra becomes available everywhere, the delivery becomes more secure. Only then can gardeners take the step towards further sustainability. If the capture of CO2 would be made mandatory, that would also help enormously. We now want to indicate broadly that this is the obstacle to further sustainability."