Haňovice: Tomatoes all year round thanks to bioenergy

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Biogas plants have become a natural part of the Czech countryside. There are more than four hundred of them in every corner of the country. In many cases, they bring new investments and jobs to regions beyond the industrial zones or office parks of metropolitan areas. Biogas plants are often at the centre of new enterprises which take advantage of the readily available local renewable source of energy. A great example of this is a cooperative farm in Haňovice, central Moravia, Czech Republic.

The biogas station in Haňovice has an installed capacity of 1 MW and was completed in 2012. Adam Moravec, head of the biogas section of the Czech Biomasss Association, remembers that similar projects back in the day secured steady jobs in a time of economic crisis. The energy readily available from the biogas station supplies not only the farm but also communal buildings and other in-house businesses, including its own manufacturing of fibers for 3D printers.

In 2018 farmers decided to build a greenhouse which is now used for hydroponic cultivation of tomatoes. The three hectares large greenhouse is also supplied with heat and electricity from the biogas plant. Drought is becoming an increasing concern for Czech farmers. The project has this covered and takes an advantage of almost 80% of the rainfall collected on the roofs of the greenhouse and other premises. The tomatoes are cultivated by using biological plant disease control without the need to apply pesticides.

The biogas station’s main input biomass sources are pig and cattle manure and maize. The utilization of manure in the biogas station lowers greenhouse gas emissions related to cattle farming, one of the major concerns of the agricultural industry with respect to climate change. The emissions of ammonia, another pollutant related to animal farming, were lowered by 20 tonnes annually. Digestate is used on local fields as organic fertilizer.

And it doesn’t stop there. In 2019, original engines which needed some amount of light fuel oil to operate, were replaced with 100% gas engines lowering a whole range of pollutants such as particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide and also increasing the thermal capacity to 1,1 MW (from the original 0,928 MW).

It is not surprising that the operator won the award granted by the Olomouc region for its long term positive impact on the environment in 2020.

Author: Jan Doležal, Czech Biomass Association

Photo: ZD Haňovice (operator)