Gartneriet Hjortebjerg, a garden centre on the island of Funen, is using groundbreaking technology that stores heat from the sun in summer for use in winter, reports TV2 Funen. The pilot project involves using the glass panels of the firm's 4,000 m2 greenhouse as heat collectors via special curtains. The heat is then transported 40-70 metres down to the groundwater, where it is kept warm until it is transported back for use during the cold seasons.
It is estimated that the new technology will create energy savings of 60 per cent compared to current consumption. Gartneriet Hjortebjerg has invested DKK 10m (USD 2m) in the project, while the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries has granted DKK 4m (USD 790,000) in support from a business development scheme. The project runs until 2011.
Co-owner of Gartneriet Hjortebjerg, Steen Juul Thomsen, says: "The energy saving we gain provides significant advantages, and I believe that when we get the technology fully controlled, it can be used by all garden centres in Denmark."
Greenhouses are large consumers of energy, and Denmark's approx. 500 garden centres account for almost one per cent of the country's total energy consumption. Studies show however that in principle, garden centres could be self-sufficient in energy if heat generated from the sun during the summer is stored efficiently for use during the winter.
The Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Eva Kjer Hansen, commented to financial daily newspaper Erhvervsbladet: "The energy neutral greenhouse shows how it is possible to make production more energy-friendly and at the same time economically viable."