SP.20.007 – SERIOUS: SustainablE gReenhouses wIthOUt gaS

Route: Sustainable production of safe and healthy food

Cluster question: 015 How can we make agricultural production systems more sustainable as the worldwide demand for healthy, safe food continues to grow?

With 10.000 hectares of greenhouses, over 7 billion euros in revenue and 80% export of produce (2017), greenhouse horticulture is a crucial part of the Dutch economy. It provides healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables year-round, with minimal use of water, fertilizers and pesticides. It also uses a lot of energy: about 3 billion cubic meters of natural gas yearly: 10% of the total Dutch gas use. Electricity is slowly replacing gas: its use in Dutch Greenhouses was 5.5 % of the national consumption in 2017. As only 18% of Dutch electricity production was renewable in 2019, this is not sustainable in the short-term, and such a large costumer may not fit easily into the increasingly green-electricity grid of the future. Therefore a pathway is necessary, consisting of an energy mix with self-generated thermal energy, electric energy and sustainable CO2, hyper-efficient use of all inputs, and balancing options in smart energy grids.
Our objective is a greenhouse system that is sustainable by optimally balancing energetic self-sufficiency with intelligent, mutually useful interaction with external energy grids. This project will thus ensure sustainability of Dutch greenhouse horticulture while maintaining its excellence.
The research objective is to redesign the existing greenhouse system to achieve energetic sustainability. The steps leading towards this objective are:
– Identifying transition paths towards on-farm generation of alternative, renewable energy and its storage and management
– Identifying support instruments for management of a renewable-energy grid in greenhouse regions
– Assessing sustainability and social acceptance of the total system
– Enabling long-term, efficient storage of low-grade (solar) thermal energy
– Exploring the boundaries of crop adaptation to irregular lighting patterns
– Exploring feasibility of on-farm CO2 capture and its imbedding in a greenhouse energy system
– Optimal management of in- and off-farm energy flows in a sustainable greenhouse energy system


all-electric greenhouse, CO2 capture, energy management, low-grade energy storage, on-farm generation, plant adaptation, solar-thermal energy, transition path

Other organisations

Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), HAN, Technische Universiteit Delft (TUD), TU Twente (UT), Utrecht University (UU), Wageningen Universities and Research (WUR)


Organisation Wageningen Research (WUR)
Name Dr. Silke Hemming
E-mail silke.hemming@wur.nl
Website https://www.wur.nl/en/Research-Results/Research-Institutes/plant-research/greenhouse-horticulture.htm