Katunga Fresh Glasshouses
When Katanga’s future electrical demand was projected to be above what the grid could supply, Optimal came up the solution to integrate an off grid microturbine generation system.
|Combined Cooling, Heat & Power (CCHP)
Any glasshouse owner knows that one of the trickiest and the costliest aspects of protected crop growing is generating or receiving the power needed to keep everything running. This was the predicament the owners and operators of Katunga Fresh found themselves in. Located 45km north of Shepperton in Victoria, this well-known establishment produces high quality hydroponic tomatoes for the major supermarket chains. They already had a large 21-hectare glasshouse facility, but due to the very high demand for their products, an expansion of an additional 10-hectares of glasshouse was being considered. They also were looking to introduce an additional load of 1.95MW for artificial lighting, to enhance plant growth and to be as energy efficient as possible. All of this meant that their site’s electrical demand would have ended up being more than the grid can supply.
This is where we came to help, with a solution to integrate an off grid microturbine generation system to power the glasshouse lighting running on natural gas. Each microturbine consisted of six modules, which were also paired to a Heat Recovery Module (HRM) system, which harnesses waste heat from the generator which then converts into useful heat in the form of hot water to be sent to Katunga’s thermal storage tank. The HRM can also cool the turbine exhaust rich in CO2 to a temperature suitable for the CO2 fertigation system. This process is what is known as quad-generation. The key driver for implementing a quad-generation solution at a site was to improve energy efficiency, as well as providing additional power capacity.
The attainment of the aforementioned objectives hinges significantly upon the accessibility of an energy system or solution. It is within this context that Capstone microturbines emerge as a highly advantageous asset. These turbines possess the capability to operate efficiently at low loads, including the ability to modulate down to 0%. Furthermore, their adeptness at load-following facilitates their utility across a broader spectrum of operational conditions. This aspect assumes heightened significance when contemplating integration with variable output renewable generation systems, such as Solar PV. Another important factor for many protected cropping growers, whose livelihoods depend on maintaining the health of their crops, is power security. Because this solution allowed Katunga to generate power onsite, they are less affected by nearby weather events, natural disasters, etc., that may affect the grid.
This solution also allowed Katunga to reduce their carbon emissions, as microturbines produce extremely low emissions, on top of emissions avoided through quad-generation.