Commercialization of High-Efficiency Biomass Boilers
Web Address: www.actbioenergy.com
ACT Bioenergy is starting to produce a commercial-scale, high-efficiency wood pellet/wood chip gasification boiler for use in institutional, commercial, and multi-family residential buildings. The design is based on a European gasification boiler that has been well-proven in Europe and has now been adapted for the US market. The boiler produces exceptionally low emissions compared with conventionally available US boilers, has 85%-90% thermal efficiency, and includes many user-friendly features such as automated ignition and ash cleaning. The boilers are designed to directly replace oil or gas boilers in existing or new buildings. With the cost of wood fuel typically 30%-70% cheaper than heating oil or propane, the systems can pay for themselves in as little as two years.
Although this type of advanced wood boiler technology has found great acceptance in Europe, ACT is the first company in the US to focus on producing such boilers for the national market. This boiler has an excellent commercial potential in Central Upstate New York where there is a high reliance on heating oil and propane, two of the most expensive heating fuels. Furthermore, since a ton of wood can replace 115 gallons of heating oil and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 2645 lbs., wood heating can help reduce reliance on imported oil and contribute to the goals of greenhouse gas reduction. At the current price of $2.60/gal, New York State spends about $6 billion/yr. on heating oil and more than three-quarters of this money is sent overseas; switching to wood fuel would mean this money would stay in New York State. Producing and delivering wood fuel will help preserve and create new forestry industry jobs that been hurt by the closure of pulp and paper mills that previously used wood chips.
Economic studies by FutureMetrics, a Maine-based economic consulting firm, indicate that if 10% of the homes in New York switch to wood heating, it would create 10,000 direct jobs and 61,000 multiplier jobs. Although there is some concern that burning wood will have an environmental impact on forests, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation reports that there are approximately 1 million tons of wood residues/yr that can be sustainably used for heating. This would be enough wood to heat 3000-4000 typical school buildings. If 1 million tons of wood were used to displace heating oil, it would reduce greenhouse gases by 1.3 million tons/year. As ACT ramps up production according to its business plan, it expects to provide manufacturing jobs to 30-50 people within 3 years and have a turnover in excess of $8M a year.
CAP Funding Secured by NY Assemblyman William Magnarelli
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