A pilot project to encourage industrial users to switch to wood-fired boilers could cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 200,000 tonnes.
The Wood Energy South project is a joint venture between the Government’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority and Southland’s economic development agency, Venture Southland.
Set up in 2010, it has a three-year target of shifting 0.15 petajoules of energy (the equivalent of 1500 truck-and-trailer loads of woodchips) away from fossil fuels to wood energy, using the region’s waste wood.
Meeting that target would reduce the region’s greenhouse gas emissions by 195,000 tonnes over the 30-year lifecycle of a boiler.
It would also improve air quality, and improve energy efficiency.
Using wood chips to heat boilers costs between $6 and $10 per gigajoule. With LPG costing $35 to $40 a gigajoule, diesel $20 to $25 a gigajoule, and electricity $35 to $45 a gigajoule, the business case for shifting from these heat sources is easy to make.
It is more difficult, however, to argue to shift away from coal, which costs just $3 to $4 a gigajoule.
Project co-ordinator Cathy Jordan says that they are targeting users of electricity, diesel and LPG first, and encouraging coal users to at least consider wood-chips in their long-term planning, as switching to cleaner fuels could help them meet future environmental regulations and supply-chain requirements.
Providing an analysis of, and demand for, wood chips in the area was a critical part of speeding up the conversion, she said.
“Matching up supply and demand is really important,” she said. “Users want to know that if they go to the expense of changing boilers that a supply of wood chips is assured.”
Two Southland sawmills – Niagara and Findlaters – are now supplying dried wood chips from waste products to industrial and institutional users, such as schools.
Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges visited Southland last week and praised the project’s work.
“Southland is home to some exciting energy efficiency projects, it’s great to see local industry is adopting a progressive approach to developing sustainable and economic energy options,” he said.
“Wood energy is a renewable fuel that in many situations can be used instead of coal or gas. Every Southland business that makes the switch is supporting the local economy as well as making a more environmentally friendly choice, which can only have a positive impact on the region.”
Story copyright © Carbon News 2015