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Hydroponics Company's Fruits of Labor Come in Red and Green

May 7, 2008
In southern Ontario, Great Northern Hydroponics, a 50-acre tomato greenhouse, is producing more than just delicious tomatoes. The $20 million facility is leading the greenhouse industry by identifying and investing in innovative technology that benefits the environment with the construction of a Tri-Generation Energy Facility.

With the advent of this technology, Great Northern's energy facility will have the capability to remove 20 tons of carbon dioxide a year from the earth's atmosphere while producing 12 megawatts of electricity. In turn, that produced electricity will be sold to the Ontario government to power 5,000 residential homes in the local area. This type of facility, noted Great Northern's President Darrin Didychuk, is the first of its kind in North America.

Didychuk recently hosted Ontario's Energy Minster Dwight Duncan and Essex's Member of Provincial Parliament Bruce Cozier as the officials toured the facility while it was in construction. "Mr. Duncan is interested in having even greater amounts of energy produced by tri-generation facilities, specifically another 200 to 300 megawatts of power, which is equal to half a nuclear power plant," said Didychuk. "It is truly the way of the future."

Other greenhouses have contacted Great Northern regarding this emerging technology. "As an early adopter, we are proud to be in a position to help propagate an environmentally sustainable project," Didychuk added.

Employed by European greenhouses for years, tri-generation technology creates electricity from natural gas which produces substantial amounts of thermal energy, as well as carbon dioxide exhaust emissions. In the form of hot water, this thermal energy is supplied to heat the greenhouses. The latest in environmental technology is used to clean the exhaust emissions and extract carbon dioxide. The energy facilities provide the greenhouse with a key component of photosynthesis - carbon monoxide -- to fertilize the greenhouse's crop.

The result is a crop production of more than 2.1 million cases of gourmet tomatoes annually. In addition to CO2, the company utilizes cutting-edge techniques such as raised troughs, inter planting, run-off fertilizer recycling, biological pest management, and computerized climate controls to create tomatoes high in nutrients with extended shelf life, pesticide and herbicide free, and uncompromised quality. With fully automated packaging capabilities, Great Northern Hydroponics employs the latest technology to package in bulk, stickered and unstickered, and in plastic or netted bags.

Didychuk signed a 20-year power purchase contract with the government of Ontario, Canada to develop, build and generate the 12 mega-watt electrical power facility. The contract is a result of two years of research and project development from Didychuk and the company's General Manager Guido van het Hof.
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Soave Enterprises is a privately held, Detroit-based company with holdings in dozens of companies. Its substantial financial and managerial resources bring strength to these entities.
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