One of the UK’s largest greenhouse projects is almost complete – and bigger than the O2 in London, with more glass than can be seen on The Shard.
The two giant greenhouses, which will begin their testing phase in the fall, can grow a whopping ten percent of the tomatoes grown in the UK.
Each of the two greenhouses is one and a half times the size of the O2 Arena in London and each covers a whopping 13 hectares (130,000 square meters).
And in a worldwide first development, one of the two huge greenhouses will get its heating system from waste heat – from sewage treatment plants next door.
One of the huge glass buildings is on the Crown Point Estate in Kirby Bedon, Norfolk – home of the Colman family, behind the famous Colman mustard.
The property is just a few miles from Anglian Water’s water treatment facilities. From there, heat is pumped into the energy centers that serve the greenhouse.
This provides the ideal growing temperature for millions of tomatoes – as well as other crops like peppers and cucumbers.
The other greenhouse is in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk – also with a heat pump growing system.
The £ 120 million project is being managed by Wiltshire based Chartered Surveyors Step Associates.
Director Mark Dykes said, “This project has been a long and rewarding journey.
“The greenhouses are a world first in the use of renewable energy and have positioned the UK as a leader in a low-carbon solution for sustainable growth.
“The program uses the UK’s largest heat pump system that draws heat from warm water into the greenhouses to accelerate growth.
“This use of natural energy will reduce the carbon emissions associated with growing the tomato crop by 75%.
“Hopefully this will pave the way for similar projects as well.”
The greenhouses to grow this winter are seven meter high glass structures and allow the plants to grow vertically along the guide wires.
In addition to supplying the UK with domestic tomatoes, the project will create up to 360 permanent jobs in the area and up to 460 in high season.