At a facility in Camarillo, GE and greenhouse grower Houweling’s Tomatoes today formally revealed the nation’s first combined heat and power project that captures carbon dioxide for plant fertilization.

The plant will provide heat, power and carbon dioxide to the produce grower’s 125-acre tomato greenhouse, in addition to providing excess power to the neighboring community.

These engines are the first of their kind that GE has sold in the U.S.

“This CHP system will provide the necessary heat, power and CO2 for the growth of our fresh greenhouse tomatoes,” said Casey Houweling, owner of the facility, in a prepared statement. “However, the impact of this project on the region goes far beyond the vegetables produced in the greenhouse. This ultra-high-efficiency CHP plant also will provide flexible power to our local utility with a very short response time.”

The plant, which has a five-minute start-up capability, will also augment the local power grid. Applications for connectivity with the local electric utility have been approved.

“A key goal at GE focuses on helping our customers reduce their impact on the environment and on their community. One Jenbacher J624 two-stage turbocharged gas engine can provide electrical power for about 4,400 average U.S. homes, saving about 10,700 tons of carbon dioxide per year,” said Scott Nolen, product line management leader for GE Gas Engines. “This is equal to the annual CO2 emissions of more than 2,000 U.S. cars.”

Seventeen such GE engines are currently in operation worldwide, with another 60 on order.

Kelly Goff