GrowGreen Power chooses NC for its greenhouse/biomass power plant

By Lisa Gibson | June 06, 2011

Following an intensive nationwide evaluation, GrowGreen Power Inc. has chosen Piedmont in central North Carolina as the location for its 50-acre greenhouse and 46.3-megawatt (MW) cogeneration plant.

The plant will use a combination of solar and biomass resources such as wood waste, although no supply agreements are in place, according to Sean Lehman, director of communications for GrowGreen, which has locations in Boulder, Colo., and Raleigh, N.C. “The vast majority (of the energy) will come from biomass,” he said, hesitating to estimate a percentage. Six MW will be used in the greenhouse and the remaining 37 will be sold to the grid.

The hydroponic greenhouse is a completely controlled growing environment capable of producing up to 30 times more high-quality, safe produce than traditional farming, according to GrowGreen. Initially, GrowGreen North Carolina will produce tomatoes on the vine.

“North Carolina is an ideal spot for us,” said Bradley Nixon, principal and CEO of GrowGreen Power. “GrowGreen Power Inc. is committed to integrating state-of-the-art growing and renewable energy systems that deliver both fresh produce and sustainable power to local communities. North Carolina has a rich agricultural heritage, quality workforce and access to regional produce distribution and energy markets. Those factors combined with the support we’ve received from state leaders and its communities make North Carolina an excellent location for us to launch our first project in the United States.”

North Carolina House Speaker Tom Tillis praised the aspects of the plant that will bring local benefits. “I am encouraged that GrowGreen Power is considering North Carolina for a project that would bring over 300 jobs to Piedmont,” he said. “I am further encouraged that this $250 million investment would occur in an area of our state that is rapidly becoming an energy hub of the Southeast. The Piedmont region has the perfect combination of traditional farmland and a motivated workforce, and I look forward to working with GrowGreen Power to ensure that they bring their investment to our state.”

Providing local produce and clean energy can go hand in hand, Lehman said, and the notion has possibilities for global application. “We wanted a concept that would be sustainable in its own right and we can locate them around the world,” he said.