Village Farms International Inc. announced recently that it is part of the first renewable energy quad-generation project ever to be realized for a greenhouse operation from fuel cell technology. This project enables the commercial production of renewable heat and food grade carbon dioxide (CO2) that would benefit the Village Farms greenhouse, along with electricity and hydrogen for additional commercial markets. A ground breaking event is scheduled on April 2, 2014 at the Company's Delta, British Columbia greenhouse to celebrate the collaboration with Quadrogen Power Systems Inc., FuelCell Energy Inc., and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC). This will be the most advanced greenhouse technology ever achieved using cutting edge fuel cell technology.
"Village Farms clearly leads the industry and its competition at large in technological advancements, environmental sustainability, and clean agricultural technologies", Michael A. DeGiglio, President and CEO of Village Farms said. DeGiglio went on to say, "As a Company we are the most advanced in leading edge, highly efficient sustainable greenhouse growing technology in the world, and this project is yet another testimony of our focus in maintaining this commitment. And further, this is another example demonstrating Village Farms position as the leading choice among technology companies. Considering the numerous research developments and advancements that have occurred within the greenhouse industry over the past several years, Village Farms has been at the forefront of commercializing the majority, making us the go-to partner in complimentary technologies."
Village Farms is no novice when it comes to utilizing renewable energy, and for the last 10 years the Company's Canadian Greenhouse Facilities have been using renewable landfill gas as an additional heat source alternatively to natural gas. The heat is supplied from a co-generation power plant that is owned and operated by Maxim Power Inc. located on the Village Farms property. According to Village Farms Development Director, Jonathan Bos, who has been instrumental in the growth and development of co-generation projects for the Company, "Co-generation is a feel-good success story because it takes landfill methane gas that would have been burned on site at the landfill and instead turns a waste product into a viable heat source that is safe for people and plants. This new project is even more advanced and cutting edge as it will be the first demonstration of not only heat supply for the greenhouse but also food grade CO2 that is generated from the landfill gas via a fuel cell". The landfill gas will be cleaned by an innovative system designed and built by Quadrogen Power Systems and then used by the stationary fuel cell power plant built by FuelCell Energy to generate the multiple value streams including electricity, heat, and hydrogen. The fuel cell utilizes a highly efficient electro-chemical process to generate power that avoids the emission of virtually any pollutants due to the absence of combustion. Village Farms will be the sole user to benefit from the CO2 renewable energy stream and hot water that is coming directly from the fuel cell. Once operational, Village Farms will seek to increase the output of renewable CO2 and in addition, seek to further utilize the technology in future Company developments at new locations or in other markets.
The potential benefits of this new technology are numerous; not only for Village Farms but for the environment at large. First, landfill gas will be eliminated from the waste stream helping reduce the City of Vancouver's overall carbon footprint. The reduction in carbon footprint will be mirrored by Village Farms as the end user of this waste stream, helping the Company reduce their need for fossil fuels. Further, since the food grade CO2 is actually used by the plants as a nutrient in the process of photosynthesis, the plant then converts the CO2 to oxygen (O2), which creates another primary benefit for the environment. Additionally, this will allow further efficiencies for Village Farms by reducing overall costs, and enhancing use of CO2 ,which is attributable for approximately 25% of a plant's yield. According to Alakh Prasad, President and CEO of Quadrogen, who worked relentlessly with the Company over the last 5 years to see this project to fruition, "The quad-generation project will be a game changer in the existing arena for the renewable landfill gas market at large, and we are pleased Village Farms will be at the forefront of this grounding breaking technological advancement in green technology as the first demonstrated user for quad-generation fuel cell technology."
And according to Helen L. Aquino, Marketing Manager for Village Farms, "This project is analogous to our water conservation, land preservation, and soilless growing methods that are highly resource efficient and environmentally sustainable. The conversion of landfill gas to clean food grade CO2 for the plants, who then convert the gas to oxygen is creating what amounts to a carbon negative waste stream. This project is just one of the many examples of Village Farms state-of-the-art growing methods and technological innovations which make us as a Company the most sustainable greenhouse operation in the industry today, and the most responsible choice for food production the world over."
SOURCE: Village Farms International Inc.