A medium sized Dutch horticultural company has three hectares of greenhouses. At Agriport each grower uses 60 hectares on average. Nine growers, their own sustainable power grid and a gigantic data center: that is Agriport in a nutshell. The concept emerged from an idea by Anton Hiemstra more than 10 years ago and now consists of a 100 hectare business park and 850 hectares for the greenhouse horticulture sector.
Geothermal energy from a depth of 2.5 kilometers
Robert Kielstra, who is in his thirties, is director of Energie Combinatie Wieringermeer, in short: ECW. This independent energy company at Agriport has its own energy grids and geothermal power plant with which it extracts energy from the earth at a depth of 2.5 kilometers. A 300-million-year-old sand layer contains warm water. Which means it's from the time before the dinosaurs. That water is pumped up and then pumped back down once it has cooled. Geothermal energy is a sustainable source of energy at zero cost. Of course, first the power plant had to be built. The energy network was born of necessity. The entrepreneurs at Agriport needed to arrange their own energy supply. Robert eagerly took on the challenge. He has a passion for energy. You should consider multiple solutions, then you have a back-up plan if things do not go as planned.
The composition of a group of people is crucial
Robert often travels abroad and has done so since college. He assisted growers in England to set up an English version of Agriport. The climate is perfect in England: cool summers and moderate winters. In China, it will be more difficult to set up. Literally everything is different over there. Especially the people, which are vital to this concept. The people who became involved in Agriport, form a tight team with the right composition and insights. The nine growers are among the largest in the Netherlands, they are all shareholders of the power grid and its sole clients. The Microsoft's new data center is also a shareholder.
As entrepreneurs, they develop a project with a sustainable vision together. However, this would never have been successful if they did not have the same mindset. The composition of the group plays a significant role in the whole concept. Perhaps the North Holland mentality plays a role as well. Which means you cannot exactly copy the concept in, for example, China.
Our future is green
Agriport is a special place. With a special group of people. The synergy has advantages: You are not alone and you can work together. And no one is exactly the same, this is where their strength lies. The energy, heat and water can continuously be supplied, because the needs of each company varies slightly. Thanks to Agriport and ECW, energy is now viewed differently.
What started out as a small task became a life’s work. ‘I can and I will’, Robert must have thought. We are interested to see what will happen at Agriport when Robert starts to get bored. The future is green in the northern part of North Holland, that's a fact.