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Sustainable refrige-ration technology for greenhouses

Request by Janssen Maasbree Flowers: Expand the refrigeration capacity with an energy-efficient refrigeration system with a strong freezing capacity. An installation that can make the production method more sustainable, with a short payback period.

Chrysanthemum growers Janssen Maasbree modernised their greenhouse complex in 2013, expanding its total cultivation capacity by another five hectares of chrysanthemums. That meant extra work for the cooling cell. Well-refrigerated chrysanthemums are the secret behind the company’s export success. Janssen Maasbree decided to install new refrigeration technology based on CO2.

‘The cooling cell reaches the right temperature within a few minutes’
- Theo Dirkx, eigenaar
Janssen Maasbree Flowers

Only top quality

‘We couldn’t have found a better solution than refrigeration with CO2,’ says owner of Janssen Maasbree Theo Dirkx. ‘The cooling cell reaches the right temperature within a few minutes. The new cooling cell can easily refrigerate all our chrysanthemums. This means we can guarantee that the flowers retain their top quality during transport. This is hugely important for Janssen Maasbree Flowers. We supply huge numbers of flowers to Eastern Europe, which means the travelling time is long, and the demand for our flowers is growing all the time. We can now meet that demand.’ 

Thirty million chrysanthemums

Last autumn, the company almost doubled its production capacity with an extra five hectares of greenhouses. Janssen Maasbree now has twelve thousand square metres of greenhouses, distributed over three locations. Every year, the company harvests thirty million chrysanthemums. The best flowers are packed in bunches and stored in the cooling cell. They ultimately find their way to many foreign destinations by way of auctions in Aalsmeer, Rijnsburg and Germany.

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‘More flowers meant we also needed more refrigeration capacity,’ explains Dirkx. ‘Our cooling cell was too small. We needed more volume to safeguard the quality of our flowers. The ideal storage temperature for chrysanthemums is around four degrees. The faster we reach this temperature, the better the quality can be preserved.’

Low environmental impact

The necessary investment in extra refrigeration capacity gave Janssen Maasbree an excellent opportunity to make its already environmentally-friendly production method even more sustainable. The company uses so-called Green Label Greenhouses, which have a low environmental impact. By investing in clean refrigeration technology, Janssen Maasbree also became eligible for Government subsidies such as the energy-investment deduction (EIA). Dirkx: ‘EQUANS gave us the technical basis we needed for our subsidy application and helped us to meet the requirements of the tax authorities. That was very important for us.’

Dirkx has noticed that sustainability is becoming increasingly important in the market. ‘More and more customers are asking us about the conditions under which we cultivate our flowers. Added to that, the regulations on sustainability are becoming stricter every year. That’s a positive development, because it’s forcing businesses like ours to innovate.’

Janssen Maasbree has stopped using its customary refrigeration technology. That was based on the R22 refrigerant, which will be banned from 2015 onward. The chrysanthemum grower has opted for new, clean refrigeration technology, based on the refrigerant CO2. This choice means that Janssen Maasbree is now leading the way in the sector.

Janssen Maasbree Ref Afb2
Janssen Maasbree Ref Afb

Short payback period with CO₂

Janssen wanted an energy-efficient refrigeration system with a strong freezing capacity but a short payback period. Until now, sustainable refrigeration technology for relatively small refrigeration systems was not as cost-effective. Together with Janssen, EQUANS decided to invest in this technology. ‘CO2 is mainly used in refrigeration units in supermarkets,’ explains Dirkx. ‘We wanted to examine whether CO2 would be a good solution for our company and to meet our need for more refrigeration capacity. We asked EQUANS to draw up a proposal for new systems with CO2.’ EQUANS helped him to successfully implement this new refrigeration technology. The cooling cell reached the right temperature in just a few minutes. ‘And not only does this increase the quality of our product, it also means we’ve become more sustainable.’