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'First world' low-carbon greenhouses to grow 20 tonnes of tomatoes a day | Environment



People in Britain will soon be able to feast on grown tomatoes with the help of a water treatment plant in what backers say is a world first.

One of the UK's largest clean energy funds has announced plans to invest £ 120m in a pair of low-carbon greenhouses in Norfolk and Suffolk, large enough to grow 10% of the UK's homegrown tomato crop.

The giant greenhouses, each one and a half times the size of O2 in London, will be used to grow up to 20 tonnes of tomatoes a day using heat from Anglian Water's water treatment facilities.

The 7-meter tall glass structures will allow crops to grow vertically along guide wires. They will grow hydroponically from nutrient-rich water solutions instead of using soil.

The scheme will require the UK's largest heat pumps, which will channel heat from warm water into greenhouses to help speed crop growth, before returning cool water back to the river system.

Carbon emissions from an on-site electricity plant will also be funneled into greenhouses for plants to absorb as they grow.

Greencoat Capital, the fund behind the world's first plans, estimates that greenhouses will produce vegetables with a quarter of the carbon footprint of regular greenhouses. It could also create 360 ​​permanent jobs in the area, up to 460 at peak season, it said.

Greencoat plans to begin construction immediately and begin growing its crops by the fall of 2020.

James Samworth, a partner at the fund, said Greencoat saw a "significant opportunity" to invest in renewable heat in the UK. This could help generate stable returns for its pension fund clients while helping to reduce carbon emissions as the UK worked to become a carbon neutral economy by 2050, he said.

The agriculture sector is considered a 'hard to treat' area of ​​the UK's carbon-cutting agenda but renewable heat from power plants, factories or underground geothermal stores could help cut emissions.


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