Small changes to reduce energy costs

11-01-2022    14:53   |    HortiBiz

More than half of greenhouse growers in our country have faced cost increases recently as a result of the high gas and electricity prices, according to a recent survey by Glastuinbouw Nederland. Hortilux recognises this and supports entrepreneurs in various ways with their energy saving.

“Every day at Hortilux we hear from growers about how much of an effect the increased energy prices are having,” says Mitchel Visser, Hortilux’s Area Sales Manager. “We’re also seeing clear differences in approach. Whether or not entrepreneurs have a CHP and have fixed their energy prices – whether completely or partially – makes a world of difference. These sorts of things also have an impact on the choices they make.”

Some growers are dealing with the energy crisis by starting up later after the crop rotation. “But for businesses that have fixed sales contracts – which includes many of our clients – this isn’t an option. They have a delivery obligation towards, for example, supermarkets. As a result we’re seeing that they’re speeding up the transition to hybrid or full-LED grow light installations.”

Hortilux has seen the number of requests for LED lighting go through the roof lately, from both existing and new clients. “At Hortilux we’re keen to talk to entrepreneurs to see how they can save energy with grow light use. Alongside the addition of LED, there are other possibilities for reducing the energy requirements of the existing HPS installation.”

THE RIGHT INVESTMENTS MAKE MONEY

Visser emphasises that even small changes to the grow light system can significantly reduce energy costs. “Choosing the right times to switch, making small adjustments to the grow light curve, and optimising the lighting hours, for example, can already make a big difference. We can also map the amount of unused energy in an HPS grow light installation. And if you change the lamps and reflectors in an HPS installation, then for example you can save almost 40 euros per fixture per year. So making the right investments can make money.”

OPTIONS FOR LOWER UP-FRONT INVESTMENT IN LED

As already mentioned, many entrepreneurs are investing in LED at this time. The higher investment costs in comparison to HPS often form a barrier here. “When it comes to this, Hortilux thinks along with entrepreneurs,” Visser says. “For example, our new grow light systems are designed in a way that enables phased investment. One thing you can do is to replace two HPS fixtures with a single LED grow light system. It means that the up-front investment is low, the light intensity is the same, and the energy costs end up being much lower. And if there’s a need for a higher light intensity later on, the client can simply add additional LED light sources.”

WORKING TOGETHER TO FIND THE RIGHT PLANT BALANCE

But there are other ways that Hortilux helps to achieve optimum returns and thus keep the costs per unit of produce within reasonable limits. “The change to a LED grow light system means a system change in a greenhouse. As a grower, you need to find the right plant balance,” Visser explains. “As an implementation partner of Plant Empowerment, we support growers with this too. The advisors of Plant Empowerment’s various implementation partners work together closely and offer a broad tailor-made approach to lighting, screening, biology, fertigation and climate – and naturally this is done in collaboration with the grower and their cultivation advisor.”


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