Phototheque VEOLIA - Rodolphe Escher

Waste helps grow tomatoes

Posted on 27 May 2016.

In Lapouyade, Veolia transports heat from the waste storage facility to the Paysans de Rougeline tomato greenhouses. It’s a circular economy model benefiting the entire local economy.

Everyone’s talking about Lapouyade. This small village in southwest France has just opened the first eco-greenhouse in France to be heated by energy from fermenting waste. The project was launched in 2015 in partnership with Veolia and the Paysans de Rougeline producers' network. We take a look at this original innovation.

Producing energy from waste

Lapouyade is home to just 490 people... and a storage facility for non-hazardous waste! Commissioned in 1996, the unit is managed by Veolia and annually receives over 400,000 tons of household waste from the whole region. As it ferments, the organic waste gives off biogas, which is recovered and converted into electricity by 8 powerful turbine engines. The electricity produced is sold to ERDF, which then delivers it to its customers through the local network.

In 2015, the Lapouyade council decided to use the waste storage installation to boost the local economy by using the energy produced there to step up agricultural production.

A tomato greenhouse warmed with waste heat

Veolia came up with an innovative solution. The 8 turbines in the waste storage facility are cooled with water. This process generates heat that was hitherto unused and so lost. This is waste heat. Veolia’s idea? Recover this energy to heat the nearby Paysans de Rougeline tomato greenhouse.

On May 20th, 2016, during the first harvest, the 4-hectare eco-greenhouse was inaugurated. In one year, 16,000 MWh of energy will be transported there through a 1-kilometer long pipe. The greenhouse will be entirely heated with green energy.

The result? During this launch year, Paysans de Rougeline believes that 2500 tons of tomatoes will ripen with the heat from the waste storage facility. And they aim to double production in 2017 by opening a second 4-hectare greenhouse – producing a total of 5,000 tons of tomatoes. Better still, it will eventually create fifty local jobs.

It’s a winner for Lapouyade, which is paving the way for sustainable agriculture, and a fine example of a circular model that benefits both the environment and the local economy.