From roses to high-tech peppers
Peppers Unlimited BV is a modern company growing yellow peppers on a total area of 13.5 hectares. The company produces approximately 25 million peppers a year. Since 2005, it has been based in IJsselmuiden where it initially grew peppers on a 75,200m2 site. When the neighbouring premises came up for sale in 2008, the companies merged into a single site. That might sound simple, but it was not. In a two-month time frame, the newly purchased greenhouse complex had to be converted from a mobile rose system into a pepper production facility.
Greenhouse conversion: from roses to peppers in two months
The company approached Dalsem, who had built both the pepper production facility and the rose greenhouse. The conversion had to be completed within a very short time frame in order to avoid delays to the new planting phase. The project involved various adaptations to the greenhouse, plus the complete system for heating, drainage and water supply was re-laid. As a result the facility was extended with a modern plant nursery of almost 6 hectares with growing gutters and 7,000 lux of lighting.
Both greenhouses were built by Dalsem in line with the requirements of the applicable Dutch standard, NEN 3859. The foundation, steel construction and glass were calculated and designed with the aid of the CASTA/Kassenbouw computer program, which has been developed by TNO in collaboration with industry partners, including Dalsem. The roof guttering, the roof (including the vent openings) and the aluminium frames were also designed in accordance with the NEN 3859 standard. They were calculated with the aid of the ‘De Glazenstad’ computer program and mathcad applications, both of which have been developed by TNO in collaboration with the Working Group of Systems Suppliers (WSL), of which Dalsem is a member.
Maximum energy savings
In terms of technology, the most striking feature is the power plant at Peppers Unlimited which has been designed to generate power with maximum energy savings. The waste heat and electricity are used to heat the pepper greenhouses. After being cleaned, the flue gases from the electricity plant are utilised effectively for CO2 fertilisation. Any surplus electricity is supplied back to the grid. Together with other local growers, Peppers Unlimited is currently exploring the opportunities for using geothermal energy to heat the greenhouses in order to further improve the sustainability of its production in the future.
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