The District of Lillooet in June 1st, 2011 will be commissioning their Community Biomass Energy Project using a 400kW Pyrot Boiler to heat their Recreation/Aquatic Centre facility that is in the heart of the town. Duane Lawrence the Director of Recreation attended our 2010 Open House to see exactly what a containerized wood biomass heat plant was all about and if it would help them reduce their carbon emissions and reduce their costly propane bill. Through the UBCM (Union of British Columbia Municipalities) Gas Tax Agreement Strategic Priorities Fund (GSPF) and Innovations Fund (IF) were able to secure $467,000 towards the project. With a payback of 3.5 years it makes good economic sense for the townspeople. Lillooet is the first town in BC to use a high efficient commercial wood biomass boiler to heat a REC Centre in BC. Way to go Lillooet!
The Agro-forestry and Woodlot Extension Society (AWES) recently received $195,000 of Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP) funding to investigate the feasibility of using private woodlots to provide energy for communities. The winner of the contract was Fink Machine and our 150kW Pyrot Boiler. The boiler was installed in March 2011 and burns wood chips supplied by local business. In Alberta agricultural zones, it is estimated that there are more than 1.5
million hectares of forested land that is privately owned by farmers and ranchers.
Installed in 2008 by Fink Machine out of Enderby, British Columbia, the 540-kW KOB (Viessmann) Pyrot boiler is fully automated and came as a containerized package. Ecco chose the boiler because it’s a low-pressure system and therefore doesn’t require a steam engineer to operate it. “With a little bit of training, even a sales manager can learn to run it,” laughs Traquair.
Two of Fort Smith's largest institutions fired up wood-pellet boilers for the first time this winter, beginning the community's transition from oil heating systems.
Aurora College's Thebacha Campus and the PWK/Recreation Center building started using new, 750-kilowatt wood-pellet boilers last month.
The conversions are part of the territorial government's plan to replace heating oil across the territory using a variety of alternative power sources.
"It's tied into all the work we're doing on reducing our reliance on fossil fuels," said Michael Miltenberger, MLA for Thebacha. "We're doing similar work in communities across the land, from waste heat recovery to hydro facilities in small communities like Lutsel K'e, to some geothermal potential in Yellowknife. We have a very broad strategy, fundamentally changing the way we generate power."
The two biomass boilers will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Fort Smith by over 900 tonnes annually, according to the GNWT's department of Public Works and Services.
A third wood-pellet boiler is ready for the Fort Smith Health Center, but installation has been delayed to coincide with the facility's renovations. The Health Center's boiler should be running by fall 2011.
The payback period on each wood-pellet furnace is between three and five years, depending on the price of oil.
Maurice Evans, regional manager of Public Works in Fort Smith, said the boilers should heat the buildings 90 per cent of the time.
The only unknown comes when temperatures drop below -22C. Evans said that oil boilers may have to be used to supplement the wood heat at those low temperatures, although no one is quite sure how the wood-pellet boilers will react in the heart of winter.
The oil boilers previously used as a main heat source for each building remain in place as backups.
Taylor and Company of Hay River signed a five-year contract to provide pellets for all three systems and initial maintenance on the boilers.
Evans said that Public Works employees will shadow the Taylor and Company maintenance workers this winter to get a feel for how the systems work. Next year, GNWT employees will be expected to do the bulk of maintenance on the facilities.
As the boilers are auger-fed, the pellets are kept in a silo-type container outside of the main building. The auger feeds pellets into the boiler, eliminating the manual filling necessary with home pellet-boiler systems.
Taylor and Company is trucking wood pellets in from Quesnel, BC.
For a Custom Woodworking Business in Alberta,
Waste that Was a Headache Is Now Heating Fuel
Asked how he got into heating his high-end woodworking business in Edmonton, Alberta with its own wastewood, Kent Madsen says: “To be perfectly honest, what motivated me to do this was, my partner drove me nuts.”
“This was Myron’s baby,” says Madsen, president of Madsen’s Custom Cabinets, of his now-retired partner, Myron Jonzon. “His daughter was in university, and she did a paper on waste heat—she’s an environmentalist—and she used our shop as a model. We were terrible: a poorly insulated building in northern Canada, our heat bills were crazy.
The Kalamalka Research
Station is going green, and it is using a fairly familiar natural
resource to do it.
Back in January, B.C.s
Ministry of Forests replaced the research stations natural gas
heating system with a wood pellet boiler/solar panel combination,
and Mark Griffin, the ministrys manager of research stations,
says the results have been inspiring.
Griffin estimates the
research station previously consumed $16,000 annually in natural
gas to heat the facility. He believes the biomass boiler could
reduce that figure by up to $10,000, depending on how well the
solar panels function in winter.
The big random element is solar power, and how much energy were
going to get from the solar panels, said Griffin, whose background
is greenhouse horticulture.
So far, the stations $1,300
monthly gas bill has been reduced to a paltry $175. That figure is offset
by the consumption of $3,000 in pellets since the boiler came online
in January, which is still a significant savings.
The idea for all this came
about when the ministry held a contest challenging its employees to
devise alternative energy programs that would reduce greenhouse gas
More than 400 ideas were submitted,
with Ted Traer, a woodlot forester in the Quesnel district, winning
with his Energy Cabin proposal. His design comprised a heating system
powered by both solar panels and a wood pellet boiler.
After looking at the ministrys
potential facilities, it was decided the Kalamalka Research Station
would be an ideal candidate.
As a research station,
were continually used as a proving ground for new ideas. Were
happy to oblige, grinned Griffin.
After a request for
proposals was tendered, Enderbys Burkhard Fink, owner of Fink
Machine Inc., was awarded the contract.
The Austrian-born Fink,
a machinist by trade, has been involved in the bio-energy field
for 10 years. He says timber-rich B.C. is ideally situated to
begin replacing gas- and oil-powered furnaces with high-efficiency
I refused to consume
gas when we have so much wood around, said Fink, of when he first
began operating in B.C.
It was an economic-driven
decision back then... but the environmental aspects are being heard
more in the public now.
We also keep the wealth locally.
We use local labour to harvest the local fuel instead of importing fuel.
Its creating jobs all around.
The Kal research station had
to look no further than Armstrongs Pinnacle Pellets for a steady fuel
source for its wood boiler. The solar panels were supplied by Swiss
Solar Tech in Kelowna.
We are proud of the fact that
we were able to use a B.C.-based support system, said Griffin. Its a
real plus for us.
We see it as a way of supporting
our emerging bio-energy field.
Fink, who has five employees
in Enderby, noted that while bio-energy projects have yet to catch on
in the Okanagan, there will likely be more on the way as governments
look to tighten greenhouse gas regulations and reduce fossil fuel consumption.
The environmental impact is
a lot lower and gentler with clean burning wood boilers than with fossil
fuel equipment, said Fink, adding that modern wood boilers are just
as efficient as natural gas furnaces.
The perception is out there
that wood burning equipment is dirty and not environmentally friendly.
That can be true if its old technology, but new technology thats in
Europe... is so clean burning you cannot visibly see the emissions.
As an example, a school in
P.E.I. that consumed 100,000 litres of natural gas annually converted
to one of Finks wood boilers. Greenhouse gas emissions were reduced
by 296 tons annually, which equals the amount produced by 54 passenger
The research stations wood
pellet boiler has already consumed an estimated 30 metric tons of fuel,
yet Griffin says they have ended up with just one wheel barrel full
of ash as a by-product.
Once he (Fink) got the machine
tricked out, we were seeing very efficient combustion, said Griffin.
This boiler is extremely efficient.
It was impressive to see how
little ash was produced.
While the wood boiler and
solar panels currently arent much use in summer, Griffin says there
is potential to run the facilitys hot water off the panels.
In summer, the challenge is
to radiate all that heat the panels collect. Were still in the incipient
stages of this.
Griffin explains future alternative
energy projects could include the ministrys fire bases. With no gas
lines to these remote locations, diesel and propane need to be hauled
in to keep them running. Griffin says a wood boiler/solar panel combination
could be an ideal solution.
Wood Pellet Boiler a Success Clean burning renewable energy results in carbon neutral heat, hot water
Davis Student Residence Village and Deering Common
College of the Atlantic has just fired up
its wood pellet boiler - the first of its kind in the United States. The
system is one further step in COA's commitment to carbon neutrality and
renewable fuels. The boiler provides all the heat and hot water for three
new student residences and a converted summer cottage that is now the
campus center. The fuel source is renewable wood pellets, resulting in
absolute carbon neutrality for the heating of one-fifth of COA's campus.
This is not your ordinary
wood-burning stove with billows of smoke emerging from a chimney.
It's a KOB wood pellet boiler built by Veissmann of Austria. Thanks
to a highly sensitive computer system and more than a dozen sensors
and motors that continually monitor temperatures along with the
level of oxygen and pellets in the mix, the emissions from COA's
new boiler can be kept at a bare minimum. And while skeptics might
point to a bit of white smoky-looking stuff escaping from the building
on the coldest of winter days - it's not smoke, it's steam.
Says Burkhard Fink, who installed the half-million BTU boiler, "The
combustion technology is very advanced, the fuel/air mixture is
the perfect mixture. There's constant monitoring, so it is high
efficiency and clean burning."
In Europe where the technology evolved, notes Fink, such clean-burning
systems are required by law. "The quality of emissions can
compare to the cleanest of gas boilers," he says. And yet,
it uses renewable fuel - compressed sawdust pellets - a byproduct
of an Aroostook County sawmill.
The boiler is one element of a super-sustainable
complex of student housing completed on COA's campus last summer,
the college's first major building project since it became carbon
neutral in 2007 and pledged to move to total reliance on renewable
energy sources by 2015. Among other environmental amenities, the
Kathryn W. Davis Student Residence Village features a foot of cellulose
insulation created from shredded newspapers, the use of gray water
from showers to preheat hot water, an energy recovery central ventilation
unit preheating fresh air in the buildings and composting toilets.
Other elements of the new construction,
along with the transformation of the Sea Urchins summer cottage
into Deering Common, the new campus center, are standard at COA,
where all electricity comes from renewable hydropower. All floors
have recycling containers, all kitchens have composting bins, green
cleaning supplies are favored and lighting comes from light-emitting
diodes where possible, with compact fluorescent bulbs elsewhere.
Appliances are energy-efficient, paints are non-toxic and furniture
is made of sustainably harvested regional wood, chosen for eco-friendly
fabrics cleanable with water.
College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969
on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world
as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader
in environmental stewardship and experiential education, COA has pioneered
a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning - human ecology -
that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers who can lead all
sectors of society to promote sustainable ecosystems while meeting compelling
and growing human needs.
Wood-pellet heat system on-line
at École Évangéline Environment, Energy & Forestry
A biomass heating system demonstation project
at École Évangéline in Abram-Village is now operating,
announced the Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry and la Commission
scolaire de langue française.
The school will now be using a pellet-fuel
furnace as its primary heat source, with an oil-heat system used only
to supplement the pellet-fuel system. The school uses approximately 100,000
litres of fuel each year for heating, but expects that the addition of
the system which burns pelletized wood will dramatically cut its annual
The heating system installed is an Austrian-built
300 kilowatt Kob Pyrot pellet furnace, supplied by Atlantic Cool Air of
Wellington. The unit arrives in a ready-for-installation container designed
to be placed outside the school building and integrated into the heating
system through pipes that connect to a heat exchanger.
Environment, Energy and Forestry Minister
Richard Brown said the pilot project will demonstrate the advantages of
moving away from fossil fuels.
This furnace uses a fuel source that
can be supplied from our forest resources or from plants grown as fuel,
and its carbon footprint is much lower than a furnace that relies on heating
oil, said Minister Brown.
The $180,000 heating unit is being funded
by the provincial government through the Trust Fund for Clean Air and
When the Harney County District
Hospital Board sought to construct a new facility, they wanted to save
on energy costs, but they also wished to support the woods products industry
in the region. The case of the Harney County District Hospital illustrates
how local knowledge and a motivated “champion” are important ingredients
in implementing a woody biomass heat project. While it’s a common assumption
that renewable technologies usually rely on tax breaks, low interest loans
or other subsidies to stay in the black, this case study shows at least
one example of how biomass can compete with other energy sources on a
level playing field.
The wood products industry has had a long history in Harney County. Back
in 1920, the Hines Lumber Company established a mill that was the major
employer in the area for several decades until it closed in the 1980s.
When it was time to build a new facility for the Harney District Hospital
to replace the aging building constructed in 1950, the hospital’s administration
and district board saw an opportunity to honor the area’s heritage through
woody biomass utilization. They also sought to support an industry they
thought might one day revive. Concerns about sustainability, climate change
and the growing recognition that humancaused carbon emissions are a factor,
were also considerations in the decision to investigate woody biomass
utilization. Jim Bishop, the hospital’s CEO, had previously worked locally
as an engineer in the woods products industry.
Other members of the hospital’s board had also worked in the industry.
Together, their experience was pivotal in turning their idea into a reality.
Had they not been familiar with the business, there would have been a
much steeper learning curve to understanding the tradeoffs associated
with different types of fuel, markets, and supply sources. Another important
factor in this story was the relationship between Jim Bishop and U.S.
Forest Service Forest Products Utilization and Marketing Specialist Larry
Swan. Jim and Larry had worked together previously, so it was natural
for Jim to turn to Larry for information about woody biomass. Larry was
a critical resource for information about woody biomass technology, wood
pellets, and comparable projects that had been implemented in Europe.
Harney District Hospital
With the information that Larry provided,
Jim did his own calculations to figure out if woody biomass might
be competitive with other fuel sources to heat the new facility. He
calculated that wood pellets could be cheaper in the long run compared
to oil, propane and electricity. When he approached the architect
and the contractor on the project, they were skeptical. Jim persisted
and convinced the architect to do a feasibility study. Those calculations
predicted a 15-18-year payback, but didn’t include the state energy
tax credit and were based on oil prices at the time. The findings
from the feasibility study weren’t sufficient to sway the architect.
So it was up to the board, which made an executive decision to put
a wood pellet boiler in the plans just 45 days prior to ground breaking.
The entire system, including storage silo, occupies a total of four
Once the decision was made, the architect and contractor followed through
and put together a design that everyone was pleased with. Since then,
oil prices have increased substantially, reducing the expected payback
period to 3 years. Since a woody biomass heat system was not part of the
original design, propane and electricity are used in some parts of the
facility that could have been served by heat exchangers off of the main
heat system. For example, propane is used for laundry facilities, heated
sidewalks and garage space. (In addition, propane heat is available as
a backup to the biomass system).
Had these systems been integrated, Jim anticipates that there could have
been even greater overall energy savings. The 55,000-square-foot facility
has annual total energy expenses at: $30,000 for propane, $77,000 for
electricity and $10,000 for wood pellets. The hospital board considered
both wood chips and wood pellets when trying to decide on a fuel source.
According to Jim, the benefits of wood pellets outweigh the higher cost
of the fuel for all but the largest facilities or large scale uses like
power plants. Compared to wood chips, pellet systems don’t require as
much space for storage and for the equipment to deliver the fuel to the
The board was also concerned about finding a reliable chip source that
could provide consistent, quality chips. Poor quality chips and inconsistent
chips can result in higher maintenance costs than anticipated. Third,
the board wanted to ensure that the facility would be able to obtain fuel
stocks from multiple sources and not rely on the capacity of any one supplier.
The hospital uses at most 100 tons of pellets per year that they obtain
from Bear Mountain Forest Products, which has pellet plants in Cascade
Locks and Brownsville, Oregon.
Truck deliveries occur about once every six months to refill a storage
silo that measures just 12 feet in diameter by 15 feet high. The system
is highly automated, requiring very little maintenance. Each day, a staff
person takes a few minutes to check on the system to make sure it is running
smoothly. The system generates about 30 gallons of ash every 2–3 weeks
that is typically given to people in the community to use as a soil supplement.
The new hospital was financed through a combination of Medicare reimbursements,
a USDA loan, and financing from local banks. But no special financial
incentives tied to the use of renewable energy were factored into the
feasibility analysis; proof positive that woody biomass can be a sound
economic decision even without state or federal subsidies.
However, the hospital finally did apply for and receive a tax waiver from
the state amounting to an additional $80,000 of additional savings. The
simple fact that woody biomass was the sensible economic choice was the
key to community support. Jim speculates that there might have been community
resistance if the hospital was incurring additional expense only to meet
environmental concerns. “Out here in Harney County, folks are just happy
that we’re using wood and saving money,” Jim said.
US Forest Service, CTA (Architecture and
No incentives specific to biomass utilization
factored into the original feasibility assessment. However, the hospital
BETC tax credit after the project was completed for an additional
$80,000 in savings.
ÉCOLE ÉVANGéLINE TO BE SITE FOR
WOOD-PELLET HEAT SYSTEM FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Environment, Energy & Forestry
CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI -- The provincial government and
La Commission scolaire de langue française are co-operating in
a project to demonstrate the possible cost savings and environmental benefits
that could be gained through the use of bio-fuels.
Beginning in the fall of 2008, École Évangéline
in Abram-Village will be using a pellet-fuel furnace as its primary heat
source, with an oil-heat system used only to supplement the pellet-fuel
system. The school now spends approximately $100,000 per year on heating
oil, but expects that the addition of the system which burns pelletized
wood will dramatically cut its annual bill.
"By adding a new fuel source to our building,
we are looking to promote green energy, reduce our energy costs and reduce
our exposure to volatile heating oil prices. We hope this move will ensure
more of our budget goes to where that money is best spent - on the education
of the students," said Brad Samson, director of business operations
for La Commission scolaire.
The heating system being installed is an Austrian-built
300 kilowatt Kob Pyrot pellet furnace, supplied by Atlantic Cool Air of
Wellington (Contact Dick Arsenault at 1-866-526-5500 for more information).
The unit arrives in a ready-for-installation container designed to be
placed outside the school building and integrated into the heating system
through two pipes that connect to a heat exchanger inside the building.
The system will burn pellets made from wood but can also burn pellet fuel
made from other agricultural plant material such as straw.
Environment, Energy and Forestry Minister George Webster
said the pilot project will demonstrate the cost savings that could be
achieved by moving away from fossil fuels.
"This burner uses fuel that can be supplied from
forest resources or from plant sources grown specifically as fuel, with
a carbon emission level much lower than that resulting from the consumption
of heating oil," said Minister Webster.
"The fact that this system can be installed with
very little renovation to an existing building suggests that, if this
burner performs as we hope, renewable fuel heating systems could be an
option for similar institutions hoping to save money while reducing their
The $180,000 heating unit is being funded by the provincial
government through the Trust Fund for Clean Air and Climate Change.
This installation will be one of a number of biomass systems to be installed
in public institutions prior to the 2008/2009 heating season.