KINGSVILLE, Ontario, July 13 (UPI) -- A cogeneration plant for a commercial greenhouse opened Friday in Ontario, the first of its kind in North America.
Designed by GE Energy, the greenhouse facility is powered by four of GE Energy's Jenbacher gas engines, using a carbon dioxide fertilization technology developed by Jenbacher.
The plant is designed to generate more reliable on-site power and heat while reducing emissions from energy production, GE Energy said in a release.
It is located on the commercial greenhouse complex operated by Great Northern Hydroponics in Kingsville, Ontario, which produces some 2.1 million cases of gourmet tomatoes for Detroit-area grocery stores and restaurants.
With rising fuel costs, many greenhouse operators have shifted to coal to save on energy expenditures. Cogeneration plants rely on natural gas to generate heat, electricity and carbon dioxide.
In turn, the carbon dioxide emissions from the engines in the GE Energy-designed facility at Great Northern Hydroponics boost growth of the tomatoes, which consume high levels of carbon dioxide.
Cogeneration plants are known to be more energy efficient than separate systems that generate electrical and thermal power and consume less fuel to produce the same amount of power, GE Energy said. These plants can also help to lower regional industrial emissions associated with energy production.
The Great Northern Hydroponics GE Energy-designed system is one of seven cogeneration projects recently approved by the Ontario Power Authority as the agency seeks to diversify the region's energy supply.
Under a 20-year contract with OPA, the plant's surplus power will be sold to Ontario's transmission grid, supplying enough electricity to power 12,000 to 15,000 homes annually.
GE Energy said the facility also improves local grid reliability and supports Canada's clean and renewable energy goals.
"Our inaugural greenhouse cogeneration project was made possible because of Ontario's commitment to energy efficiency and initiatives to add significant amounts of energy from cogeneration to the provincial power grid," Guido van het Hof, president of Great Northern Hydroponics, a division of Detroit-based Soave Enterprises, said in the GE Energy release.
The Great Northern Hydroponics facility features four ecomagination-certified, JMS 620 Jenbacher gas engines, heat recovery and exhaust treatment equipment, noise abatement and systems controls.
Roger George, general manager for GE's Jenbacher gas engine business in North America, said that the company's technology advances the Ontario government's goals to increase local energy efficiency and energy reliability in support of Canada's anti-climate-change initiatives.
"Facilitating additional cogeneration projects in the greenhouse industry will support new sustainable energy, environment and employment opportunities," George said in the GE Energy release.
GE Energy's Jenbacher operates a global horticultural applications unit in The Netherlands.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, GE Energy is one of the world's leading suppliers of power generation and energy delivery technologies, with 2008 revenue of $29.3 billion.