The grower that has bought the new engine (in fact it has bought two of them) will be using more than simply heat and power from the CHP sets. The company, Royal Pride Holland, which is using the engines to power a new cogeneration plant at its complex at Middenmeer, 50 km north of Amsterdam, will be piping greenhouse gases into its greenhouses to boost production. The gas engine-CHP arrangement is a good fit for horticulture, where the unit’s exhaust gas can be circulated around the growing areas supplying heat and boosting CO2 content to levels that will increase growth by up to 33%. or alternatively, enhance the flavour of the product.

This project highlights the increased emphasis on combined heat and power (CHP) in Europe as the region increases its focus on energy efficiency. Tomato horticulture is big business in The Netherlands, and energy effcient production can make a significant difference to the country’s efforts at carbon abatement. The Netherlands has been at the forefront of Europe’s efforts to encourage industries to expand the use of advanced cogeneration technology to improve local energy efficiency and security, while reducing fossil fuel consumption and overall site emissions.

The project got under way in August when two GE 4MW, natural gas-fuelled J624 GS engines began powering Royal Pride Holland’s new greenhouse cogeneration plant as part of a pilot project to demonstrate the engine’s commercial viability for the horticultural industry.

The plant is equipped with GE’s Jenbacher cogeneration-CO2 fertilisation process that treats the engines’ CO2 – rich exhaust, allowing the gas to be recycled in the greenhouse as a special fertiliser to help boost crop production instead of being vented into the atmosphere. In addition to supporting the greenhouse’s operations, surplus electricity from the cogeneration plant is being delivered to the local grid.

The new plant project allowed Royal Pride Holland to expand the greenhouse to 102 hectares, from the site’s original 45 hectares of surface area, making it one of the largest facilities in the Netherlands and a major international horticultural production center.

‘This installation will help us enhance our operational performance and overall competitive position’ said Frank van Kleef, Director of Royal Pride Holland. ‘The introduction of this new technology supports the commitment of our country’s horticultural industry to continuously improve the production and quality of its products for the global marketplace.’

Royal Pride Holland had previously installed nine of GE’s 3 MW, JMS 620 Jenbacher units at the same location Now the cmpany and GE have a full service maintenance agreement that will cover the new units for up to 60 000 operating hours or 15 years of service.

The new engine

The engine itself is a lean burn turbocharged 24 cylinder V12 unit running at 1500 rpm on natural gas, flare gas or mine gas. As a genset its dimensions are 11.6m x 2.5m x 2m LxHxW with an inbuilt vibration decoupler system.

It becomes commercially available to global customers beginning in 2009. It is GE’s most powerful Jenbacher model to enter commercial service, and is a high-speed engine that is said to combine the benefits of high-power density, low installation and operational costs as well as a low fuel consumption level.