Coal forsaken for clean energy 11/12/2014

Despite its coal mining roots, Takitimu Primary is embracing a sustainable energy heating source. The school is installing a wood chip boiler to heat the school.

Principal Lindsay King said the boiler came at the recommendation of the Ministry of Education, which had been investigating the most sustainable and inexpensive heating sources for schools. The choices were coal, wood chips, diesel and electric. ‘‘The wood chip is definitely the more expensive one but it works out in the long run.’’

The school’s old coal burner broke down last year and ever since the school has been heated by electric heaters, King said.

Not everyone was convinced by the idea. The board of trustees were dubious about the wood chip boiler because it was relatively new and did not know whether wood chips were going to be a sustainable avenue in the future, King said.

The project has a budget of $402,000, including the costs for building the boiler room, covering the electricity costs and the boiler. Being in a coal mining area, it was quite ironic for the school to be switching to sustainable energy, King said. When Solid Energy was in the area, they donated coal to the school, as well as Takitimu Coal. ‘‘If the boiler hadn’t packed up we would have still been getting it.’’

The new automated burner would be a plus for the school, after struggling with the coal burner they will no longer have to employ somebody to work on it. The burner had been playing up long before it broke down and was fixed just before it broke down for the final time, King said. ‘‘It’s been very temperamental.’’ But the old boiler had been well- used.
‘‘It’s actually done what it needed to for a long amount of time.’’

The environmental impacts are something the school is looking forward to. They will be saying goodbye to a dirty boiler room and hello to the clean wood chip burner. The new burner will be installed at the school during the summer holidays and should be running by early March. 

By Brittany Pickett
Story courtesy of The Eye