By combining co-generation and carbon capture, greenhouses and indoor farms can generate their own carbon dioxide and sell any excess for another revenue stream. A unique partnership between Tecogen and CarbonQuest is paving the way for sustainable, waste-free, controlled environment growing.
While Tecogen’s systems already reduce operational costs significantly by reducing growers’ reliance on electricity, Stephen Lafaille, the VP of Business Development at Tecogen, explains that growers can further increase their net income by coupling their CHP systems with the carbon capture technology being developed at CarbonQuest.
“In indoor agriculture, a percentage of the carbon dioxide generated by our co-generation machinery can be directly used in the growing space for enrichment. With CarbonQuest, any excess CO2 can be captured, compressed, liquified, and sold.”
CO2 as a secondary revenue stream
As Anna Pavlova, VP of Strategy and Market Development at CarbonQuest, explains, CarbonQuest offers a technology that captures carbon dioxide from a flue, then compresses and liquefies it on site. The recycled, sustainable CO2 is then sold and delivered to off-takers via truck or rail.
“Carbon capture allows us to improve the regional ability to source carbon dioxide. From the northeast to the mid-Atlantic US and Pacific Northwest, there aren’t very many sources of CO2, so the prices are high,” says Anna.
CarbonQuest has identified multiple industries that can use recycled CO2, and currently, there are a limited number of sources across major industrial regions in the US. As a result, most of the CO2 has to be shipped far distances at a high cost.
“Any CO2 not used in the farm has multiple pathways for sustainable CO2 reuse. For example, using it in concrete and petroleum creates e-fuels and sustainable CO2-based plastic products - reducing emissions from petroleum. Additionally, providing local sources of recycled CO2 can be an important scope 3 emissions reduction for food and beverage companies, who currently are limited to trucking CO2 across the country with no visibility into its origin,” says Anna.
Carbon capture giving power to growers
According to Stephen, CHP systems typically produce much more CO2 than can be used in a vertical farm or greenhouse, with an estimated 25% of CO2 produced by the equipment being used for enrichment in the growing space, leaving a whopping 75% of the CO2 produced that can be monetized.
“For smaller users like vertical farms, obtaining CO2 can be challenging in certain regions of the country, and knowing that the product is recycled and local is virtually impossible. Now, vertical farms and greenhouses can be the producers themselves and become part of the network of suppliers,” explains Anna.
Currently, the supply of liquid carbon dioxide is 5 million tons under the demand, according to Anna. This leads to major companies getting first access to the product while smaller companies and industries struggle to secure a source.
Anna Pavlova, VP Strategy and Market Development