Wood a bet­ter op­tion?

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By JES­SICA MAD­DOCK

The com­pany in­ves­ti­gat­ing us­ing wood such as wild­ing conifers as heat sources for large en­ergy users is ask­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions to com­plete a sur­vey to help the re­search. Dunedin-based en­ergy ef­fi­ciency firm, Ahiki Con­sult­ing, and Otago Polytech­nic’s Cen­tre for Sus­tain­able Prac­tice have been com­mis­sioned by the Queen­stown Lakes and Cen­tral Otago district coun­cils and the Con­ser­va­tion De­part­ment to ex­am­ine whether re­new­able wood could re­place the tra­di­tional heat­ing sources of coal, diesel and LPG. Queen­stown Lakes district forester Bri­ana Pringle said con­trol­ling wild­ing pines was ex­pen­sive and us­ing the wood waste for heat­ing could off­set the cost. Wood was al­ready used to heat the Wanaka pool, but the chips were trucked from Naseby, de­spite the abun­dance of wild­ing conifers in the district. Ahika’s en­ergy con­sul­tant Lloyd McGinty said Dun­stan High School, Dun­stan Hospi­tal and Mt Dif­fi­culty and Rip­pon winer­ies also used wood burn­ers. Com­mer­cial ac­com­mo­da­tion, laun­dro­mats and rest homes were other busi­nesses which could ben­e­fit from switch­ing to re­new­able wood boil­ers. ‘‘One of the main ad­van­tages is the low cost com­pared to LPG, diesel or elec­tric­ity. Wood chip boil­ers can be up to 60 per cent cheaper to op­er­ate. ‘‘De­vel­op­ing a wood en­ergy sup­ply clus­ter is a chicken and egg sce­nario. Or­gan­i­sa­tions are un­likely to in­vest in ex­pen­sive wood boil­ers and as­so­ci­ated in­fra­struc­ture if the sup­ply isn’t avail­able and se­cure. Con­versely, sup­pli­ers are un­likely to en­ter the mar­ket un­less there’s rea­son­able de­mand for their prod­uct. Ei­ther way, some­one has to be the first off the block.’’ Mt Dif­fi­culty’s gen­eral man­ager Matt Dicey said the win­ery had saved thou­sands of dol­lars a year since re­plac­ing its gas boiler with wood about four years ago. The in­fra­struc­ture and in­stal­la­tion had cost about $100,000 and had been par­tially funded by an En­ergy Ef­fi­ciency and Con­ser­va­tion Author­ity grant. The win­ery’s gas boiler had heated the gly­col, which con­trolled the fer­ment­ing tem­per­a­tures and the rooms, and the gas bill had been about $10,000 a year. The wood burner also heated the water, with about $7000 spent on lo­cally-sourced wood chips per an­num. The win­ery’s an­nual pro­duc­tion had more than dou­bled since the boiler was changed and Mr Dicey es­ti­mated the en­ergy bill would have grown to about $25,000 a year had gas been used to heat the water. Us­ing hot water to ster­ilise equip­ment had also re­duced the amount the win­ery spent on chem­i­cals. The anony­mous sur­vey fo­cused on an or­gan­i­sa­tion’s en­ergy use and aimed to in­crease Ahika’s un­der­stand­ing of the po­ten­tial in­ter­est in, and de­mand for, us­ing wood en­ergy.

Photo: JESSICAMADDOCK 627528970

En­ergy ef­fi­cient: Mt Dif­fi­culty’s Matt Dicey says the win­ery is sav­ing thou­sands a year on en­ergy since re­plac­ing its gas heat­ing sys­tem with a wood chip boiler.

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