Greenports is a unique geographical cluster of related business activities in the Dutch flowers & vegetable industry (production, import, logistics and technical and financial services) with a total turnover of well over € 10 billion, 250,000 employees, 10,000 hectares of greenhouses and vast auction & trade areas concentrated in Aalsmeer, Barendrecht, Venlo, Naaldwijk and some other places. The sector is leading in innovation of products, production processes, technology and services worldwide.
The energy bill amounts to about € 1 billion and is rapidly increasing, despite intensive improvement efforts. For transport alone the energy bill amounts to about € 175 million on a yearly basis. The sector is well aware of the vulnerability for disruptions in the energy market. Many measures are taken in the greenhouses to transform the sector from a massive consumer (10% of the Dutch gas consumption) to a net producer of energy and to reduce the dependency of fossil sources. Measures are taken to move transport from road to water (shortsea, barge) and rail, to introduce new logistic concepts using containers instead of trailers (shift from road transport to multimodal transport) and ICT to better manage modal split and improve transport efficiency.
Schoon Vervoerd fits in this portfolio of measures. The greenports have set themselves goals to reduce 30% CO2 in 2020 and be independent of fossil energy sources by 2040. These goals serve economic values (reduce costs), serve sustainability (CO2 footprint) and support license to produce.
Transport in the greenports has a specific pattern. Trucks collect products (flowers, vegetables, plants) from the greenhouses on a daily basis to a few large scale auction and trade sites. Products often get a new owner there but more importantly groupage takes place and products are assembled in market oriented combinations (bouquets, assortments). Trucks distribute products to various retail channels mainly in north west Europe. This pattern repeats on a daily basis with thousands of trucks involved for flowers as well as fruit and vegetables and hundreds of transport companies involved.
This pattern is very suitable for the introduction of biofuels as infrastructure (tanks and equipment) needs to be installed only on a few sites. Logistic services (filling the tanks), technical support (truck services) and monitoring (performance and emissions) can be concentrated on a few large scale locations. Multiple transport companies can participate in a small scale start-up, spreading the news. And last but not least, collective sector organisations can support the introduction. Nonetheless the preparation has taken all the effort in the world over a 3 year period to get started.