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Nurturing Sustainability: Factories, CO2, and the Greenhouse Connection

While there's abundant information about greenhouse gases, it's a common misconception to associate greenhouses with high greenhouse gas emissions. In reality, greenhouses enriched with carbon dioxide (CO2) enable plants to photosynthesize more effectively¹Greenhouse gases let sunlight in but prevent some of the heat that the sunlight brings from leaving the atmosphere. The primary greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and fluorinated gases. 

Factories, especially in heavy manufacturing, produce CO2 as a byproduct. Traditionally, this CO2 would contribute to the greenhouse effect when released into the atmosphere. This CO2, produced by the factory, could be channeled into greenhouses, benefiting both plants and the environment².

By optimizing the carbon capture process in greenhouses, we significantly reduce the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming mitigation efforts. This innovative approach has positioned greenhouses as a cornerstone in the worldwide strategy to combat climate change¹.

CO2: Factories and Greenhouses

In the Netherlands, Westland, known for its greenhouse farming, has established a pipeline system transferring CO2 from factories, like Shell's hydrogen factory and Alco's bio-ethanol factory, directly to greenhouses³.

Additionally, by redirecting CO2 to greenhouses, factories can potentially reduce their carbon footprint and even save on costs that might be associated with carbon emissions².

The collaboration between factories and greenhouses exemplifies the potential of cross-industry cooperation. By repurposing the CO2 produced in factories, we address both agricultural and environmental challenges. Globally, greenhouses span over 550,000 hectares, of which 60,000 hectares are equipped with high-tech facilities. Notably, most of these greenhouses employ combined heat and power (CHP) systems, which not only produce heat but also capture CO2, further benefiting the plants. As we look ahead, it's vital for industries to seek collaborative opportunities for a sustainable future. 

The Vision of Emission-Free Commercial Greenhouse

The push for environmentally-friendly commercial greenhouses goes beyond CO2 management. There's a rising interest in hydrogen as an energy source in agriculture. When used in fuel cells, hydrogen produces electricity with water as the only byproduct, offering a zero-emission energy source. Powering greenhouses with hydrogen-derived electricity, combined with renewable energy sources like solar panels or geothermal, envisions a truly green and emission-free greenhouse. This approach underscores the agricultural sector's commitment to sustainability and positions greenhouses at the forefront of combating climate change. Rabobank only invests in greenhouse businesses that have a five-year zero-emission plan.

Recently, there was a significant development in the world of sustainable agriculture. According to the World Economic Forum, 45 countries have pledged over $4 billion (about $2 per person in the world) to support sustainable farming practices5. This is a massive step forward and shows that nations worldwide recognize the importance of shifting towards more eco-friendly agricultural methods. 

In conclusion, the journey towards sustainable agriculture is a collective effort. It requires the collaboration of farmers, scientists, policymakers, and yes, greenhouse builders like us. Together, we can pave the way for a world where food is produced responsibly, and the planet is treated with the care it deserves.

Did you know that in the Netherlands, greenhouses produce 9% of all energy in the country, surpassing their nuclear facilities? 


  1. CO2 enrichment in greenhouse production: Towards a sustainable approach  
  2. Feeling the Heat: Factory Farming and Climate Change 
  3. EW weekblad, ‘Hollands Glorieonder glas’ October 2023 
  4. Fact Check-Use of CO2 generators in greenhouses does not disprove climate change concerns
  5. World Economic Forum


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