Blooming Nursery is turning to an inexpensive energy source – the sun – to help heat its propagation greenhouses in the winter. The Cornelius, Ore.-based grower, known for its perennials, has contracted with Ra Energy, which will install a solar energy system with 350 collection units. The system will heat some 300,000 gallons of water in a storage tank. The stored energy from sunny summer and fall days will be used in the winter to warm roughly three acres of greenhouses, saving enough natural gas to heat 200 homes. The Portland-based contractor said it would be the largest commercial application of solar energy to heat process water in Oregon.
Blooming Nursery owner Grace Dinsdale called it as a great way for her business to reduce environmental impact as well as energy costs. “This project will enable us to deliver heat in a conservative way to one of our largest greenhouse ranges,” she said. “We expect the installation to pay for itself inside of five years, but with continuing natural gas savings over the next 30 to 40 years, we’ll continue to reap the energy and cost benefits for many years to come.”
According to Tim Ruch of Ra Energy, it’s hoped additional nurseries and other farmers will follow suit. “Blooming Nursery’s use of solar thermal technology will be the first of its kind in Oregon, and provides a blueprint for the efficient use of energy in Oregon’s agricultural industry,” he stated in a press release.
This is not all Blooming is doing to lessen its environmental impact. Blooming is one of nine nurseries that recently signed on to the Climate Friendly Nurseries Project, which is a partnership between the Oregon Association of Nurseries and the Oregon Environmental Council. Participating nurseries have agreed to track their energy use and emissions for a year. They will then receive recommendations on how to improve in these areas, as well as assistance with getting the improvements funded through grants, loans and tax credits.