How can the energy impact of market gardening be reduced, while producing more food to meet the needs of a growing population? Industrial companies and farmers are trying to answer this question by coming together to improve their environmental performance on their land.
In Bessières (France), the Econotre eco-centre’s district heating network, managed by SUEZ and subsidised by ADEME, offers a virtuous model whose potential is worth monitoring. It heats agricultural greenhouses for growing tomatoes with renewable energy generated by burning waste from 158 municipalities near Toulouse.
The site uses high-performance CHP+ cogeneration technology, patented several years ago by the SUEZ Group. The process uses the energy from burning household waste to generate electricity. More precisely, incinerating the waste releases heat, which is used to transform water to steam and then to electricity via a turbo-alternator unit. The network recovers this low temperature energy (steam at 42°C) to heat the tomato plants near the site. The market garden saves 2,200 tonnes of oil equivalent and 6,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year to cover its heating needs.
The 6,000 tonnes of tomatoes, grown without pesticides, supply the region’s supermarkets and markets. An example of a local loop of the circular economy, sustainable development and the creation of renewable energy to benefit everyone in the area.
 The French Environment and Energy Management Agency.