Greener, more cost-effective greenhouses for Europe An EU-funded project has delivered an energy auditing software tool in efforts to cut production costs for greenhouse activities. Digital Economy © Thinkstock The EU has 41 000 hectares in greenhouses and is the largest supplier of greenhouse products worldwide. Production costs in greenhouses can amount to an exorbitant 78 % of total costs, with most of this amount being related to energy consumption. A move to reduce energy consumption across Europe by 40% and establish industry standards can make agricultural greenhouse production more cost effective and save on energy costs. Competitiveness of the greenhouse sector is also compromised by higher fuel costs and producers from other regions of the world. The EU-funded project 'Energy optimisation in European greenhouses' (Greenergy) sought to streamline energy systems and operations in existing greenhouses to reduce such challenging production costs. The initiative also aimed to help farmers meet environmental regulations in the sector more quickly. The project investigated greenhouse energy requirements in different European regions. It then worked on measures and guidelines to optimise energy consumption in greenhouses and tested them in line with European environmental legislation. Overall, Greenergy represented an integrated proactive approach to addressing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. It empowered small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and other stakeholders to gain knowledge on energy auditing and optimisation, aiming to reduce energy consumption in already established greenhouses by up to 40 % and production costs by up to 30 %. This would involve simple technical changes and modest fine-tuning to operating procedures, keeping the optimisation process feasible. Project results comprised an energy auditing software tool and an investment decision tool, including training for specific stakeholders. The project team produced European quality standards for energy use in greenhouses, as well as training material for the sector. The results and outcomes of the project were distributed across Europe to concerned parties, a step which will only result in improving energy use in the sector considerably.