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The generation of energy through the use of carbon neutral fuels is one of the salient considerations at present. In recent years the exploitation of biomass as a source of energy has been the focus of much political discussion at a national and European level. (E.U. White Paper 1999)
Throughout Europe political movements have come under pressure put more emphasis in reducing harmful emissions, in parallel there is now real concern that with fossil fuel reserves diminishing and held in increasingly unstable areas of the world, the EU and its member states must take action to secure energy supplies. The changing environment has forced the energy industries to consider alternative ways of generating energy in a sustainable manner, one such area that has seen significant developments is the use of biomass to produce electricity and heat.
With a vast changing environment and Irelands potential there has been a huge focus in the promotion of the use of bioenergy as an alternative to fossil fuels. Significant steps have been taken within the engineering industry such as, Many of the renewable energy conversion technologies have come down the price and risk curve, making renewable energy projects a lower risk/better return prospect for investors.
What has been done?
- Dissertation Aim
This dissertation will aim to investigate the potential of biomass as a renewable source of energy in Ireland and whether or not it can be readily adopted in different projects. It will also look at a situation in which a biomass application has been fully utilized and its success as opposed to the use of another fuel type.
- Literature Review
- What is Biomass?
“Biomass is essentially recent grown organic matter such as wood (e.g. sawdust, forest thinning) agricultural residues (e.g. straw, poultry litter), energy crops (fast growing trees like populars or willows, and grasses like elephant grass), methane captured from decomposition (landfills, manures, municipal waste water treatment) or oils sunflowers. It begins as energy from the sun that is stored in plants through photosynthesis. Biomass energy utilises the energy content of this organic matter to produce heat and power, or drive engines.”
Biomass is probably the most under-utilised renewable resource in the Western World today, despite the fact that many conversion technologies are well proven and represent little risk. Biomass has the potential to make a valuable contribution in a number of areas such as heat and electricity generation and in the development of greener fuels for transport and sustainable industrial products. By utilising this fuel resource within Ireland can reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels, reduce CO2 emissions and boost the rural economy.
Biomass is the oldest fuel used by mankind and is basically all organic material. It has suffered a decline in the last century as the use of fossil fuels increased. However, the environmentally harmful effects of burning fossil fuels coupled with the need to secure renewable sources of energy has resulted in a return to using natural and clean sources of energy such as wood pellets.
Ireland has significant bioenergy potential in the form of an availability of vast amounts of agricultural land, forestry and recycled waste from municipal, agricultural and industrial sources. Using these resources in a sustainable manner will/could contribute to reducing Irelands carbon emissions set out objectives/requirements set out by the “Kyoto Protocal”
The development of biomass as an energy source can result in many environmental, economic and social benefits; A net reduction in CO2 emissions as biomass is a carbon neutral fuel. The exploitation of our biomass resources could help us to reduce our over dependence on fuel imports. Ireland currently imports 86% of its fuels making us the most the most import dependant country in the EU. Large scale employment could be created in a variety of areas such as fuel supply, engineering consultancy, environmental services, construction, legal/financing, manufacturing and maintenance. Biomass provides a solution to surplus waste problem in the recovery of wood wastes (e.g. from sawmills), forest residues and agricultural residues to generate heat and electricity.
- Irelands Existing Wood Fuel Usage
The burning of industrial wood wastes to produce heat is currently the primary area of biomass usage. Out of all Irelands energy supply 2% comes from renewable sources and 1.3% is from Biomass. As can be seen in the table below biomass is utilised far greater in other European countries.
Figure 1: Use of Biomass in European Countries
Having the best growth climate in Europe, Ireland's potential annual yield of wood is almost three times that of Finland where the energy use from biomass accounts for 18% of their total energy use. Therefore we need to recognise our potential and expand on our natural biomass resources. The potential to develop our use of biomass for energy cannot go unrecognised.
Figure 2: Growth Climate Throughout Europe
The EU White Paper on Energy Use hopes to increase lalalalala
- Irelands Existing Wood Fuel Resources
In 2006, bioenergy represented xx% of all renewable energy and xx% of total primary energy requirement. The majority of this came from the use of solid biomass of which approximately 70% is utilised for industrial heat generation in the wood processing industries with the remainder being domestic wood heat. This category grew at an avg rate of 3% between 1990 and 200x.
Sources of Biomass:
Biomass sources can be divided into two main streams:
- Energy Crops
- Organic Residues
This is where crops are grown to encapsulate solar energy and are then processed to extract the energy content
Short Rotation Forestry (SRF)
Based on the plantation of fast growing tree saplings and then the cutting back of first year growth to encourage rapid thick growth in subsequent years. This is where wood fuel is produced through the cultivation of high yielding trees at close spacing on short time rotations. Plants that are fast growing, and that can grow on a variety of land types are ideal for Short Rotation Forestry. Such plants are Willow and Poplar. Land for short rotation forestry is likely to come from two sources, namely: land that is not suitable for farming because it's too mountainous or too nutrient poor and land outside the existing arable pool - presently in beef or sheep production.
Hemp and Miscanthus (Elephant Grass)
Miscanthus is a fast growing grass with good energy properties in terms of density and moisture content. Its cultivation is a feasible solution in that it is an annual field crop and it requires little changes in practices for farmers who are experienced in dealing with annual tillage crops. Existing farming machinery can be used for harvesting it also.
These comprise the tree tops and branches that remain after wood is harvested. There is a need for some forest residues to be left on the ground as their decomposition allows the return of nutrients to the soil and they also work as brash mats which allow the machinery to travel across soft ground. However much of this material could be harvested with suitable equipment and used as a renewable fuel for energy production.
Wood Processing Industries by-products e.g. chip, bark and sawdust.
These are primarily used to provide heat for drying and space heating within sawmills and board mills. They are also used to raise steam for the manufacturing process. However, currently some Irish sawmills are actually exporting surplus quantities.
Dry Agricultural Residues e.g. Straw, poultry litter and spent mushroom compost
The disposal of some of these residues can create an environmental problem. It is estimated that the total amount of agricultural waste in Ireland in 1998 was approximately 65 million tonnes. Wastes with lower moisture contents such as chicken litter could be combusted.
- The Extent of the Resource
The main source of wood biomass potential is from the national forest estate which currently stands at 710,000 ha or 10% of the total land area of Ireland. This primarily comes in the form of small diameter timber from forest thinning, together with residues from clear fell sites. Most of the material from these sources would be chipped before combustion. Contribution to the overall development of wood biomass as an energy source can also be made by the growing of short rotation forest energy crops but probably at a considerably smaller extent than that from mainstream forestry.
Recent studies conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency have identified a potential 0.5 million tonnes of wood residues available each year for energy recovery. This quantity would have an equivalent energy value in the region of 256 million litres of home heating oil (kerosene). This represents one quarter of total kerosene consumption in Ireland in 2004. However the transportation and processing costs of these wood residues reduces this potential and this is why proximity of supply and demand is important when measuring the overall prospects for wood energy.
- Demand Considerations
Current biomass heat markets come primarily from buildings with an existing solid fuel use, which may include large boilers commercial or public sector buildings (offices, local authorities, schools, colleges), and facilities such as swimming pools, hospital or hotels which have significant heat demands. It is probable that in the early stages of development of the biomass market, large scale own-use industrial heat applications are most likely to come on stream first.
At the smaller end of the scale, there are approximately 1.29 million households in Ireland (each consuming about 20 MWh of thermal fuels and about 5 MWh of electricity per year) which represent potential heat users. Further demand comes through CHP, where again the initial users may be some key industrial sites.
Electricity generation from biomass is very unlikely to be demand limited in terms of overall electricity demand, but there may of course be local issues such as grid capacity and connections.
- Market Potential for Biomass in Ireland
3.1Wood for Heat Generation
The burning of wood for energy is the most widespread bioenergy application across the world. In Ireland about 12 industrial sites (sawmills, board manufacturers) utilise wood residues for on-site heat generation. The development of modern wood heat systems (chip or pellets) for domestic and commercial buildings has brought strong opportunity for growth in the use of wood for energy. Before 2005, when the first island pellet plant was opened in Ireland, pellets were imported from overseas.
Using wood for heat energy has numerous distinct features that could bring advantages in many circumstances:
- Users are familiar with the combustion technology which is well developed, widely available and relatively cheap.
- There is no need for structural connections to external fuel supply or energy delivery allowing heat to be fully decentralised and based on stand alone systems.
- Fluctuations in demand can be met due to the flexibility of the heat generation.
- Systems range from very small to very large scale.
- Practically all buildings in Ireland need heat; therefore there is no lack of potential applications or demand.
- By linking local wood supply to local heat generation, distances can be kept and could offer prospects for complete local systems.
In many countries within the EU the focus of bioenergy growth has been on wood heat technology. An example of this is Austria which has seen strong growth in the wood heat market due to supports schemes that were introduced in the late 90's. The majority of this growth has come in the domestic sector where in 2003, 22,000 wood pellet fired heating units were installed, predominantly in single family homes. Grants are available for wood fired boilers (up to €2,200 if replacing an existing boiler, up to €2,600 for a new system). A lot of emphasis is also placed on guaranteeing the quality of the pellet fuels.
Many suppliers are now operating in Ireland with numerous boiler or stove systems obtainable although capital costs for wood burning systems remain considerable higher than for their fossil fuel equivalents.
Once conditions are right the market could take off and produce growth very quickly due to the diversity and decentralised nature of the pathway.
3.1.1Current State and Potential
At present the majority of biomass energy usage in Ireland is represented by wood heat in industrial buildings. Renewable energy provides 1.6% of domestic energy demand (excl inputs to electricity)
In large scale industrial applications most wood consumption, (109 ktoe or 4.6 PJ) is utilised for on site energy generation which includes some space heating. Outside industry there are very few large buildings that are wood heated.
In theory all space heating could be fuelled by wood. With similar storage systems to those for wood heat, and being generally more costly than gas, oil and solid fuel (coal, peat) fired space heating could be seen as the first target market.
3.1.2Issues for the Sector
The heat market is well developed with boilers and stoves well understood but the main issue is the promotion of wood as a fuel in chip or pellet form and in larger scales such as commercial buildings.
Wood heat is cost competitive with fossil fuels such as oil but the barrier to its development is that boilers and stoves are more expensive than their oil or gas equivalents. This is due to the technologies being comparatively new and the market size being relatively small. Currently wood stoves and boilers can be several times the cost of an oil or gas equivalent. This is severely hindering uptake in the short to medium term
Another issue affecting wood heat development is the reliability of the fuel supply chain and the confidence potential users have in it. For example if a householder were to install a modern wood boiler today, where would they get their chip or pellet supply? There is concern among the public over price stability and security of supply. At present there are a small number of suppliers operating in the market and users could obtain fuel, however perhaps not easily enough to raise confidence in future price and availability. An ideal future would be one in which wood pellets or chips would be for sale at all scales i.e. like coal from petrol station courtyards.
In order to increase the use of energy production from wood we must move away from a position of low levels of supply and demand to and evolved market where larger quantities are available with secure prices and there is a reliable supply chain.
Creating a flagship
A solution to this challenge could be focusing on the provision of full solutions and to develop flagship projects in various regions throughout the country to build confidence and awareness.
Initially if the extent of the resource is not sufficient locally, chips or pellets could be imported to build the market and local authorities (where there is low risk) could be targeted as a market for economically competitive systems with additional environmental benefits. Existing oil users should be seen as the first target market due to the price of oil being more expensive than its gas and fossil fuel equivalents.
Having successful flagship projects like this would generate considerable interest and likely future projects.
What happens when the market is well developed?
Wood heat would become an efficient, easy and clean option for many building applications. With storage space requirements similar to oil conversion to wood should not bring about any additional hassle. Automated systems can be installed to remove concerns over refuelling and maintenance of the system.
The removal of ash is minimal and easy to handle. Energy managers would find conversion from coal to wood particularly easy due to their similarities.
Oil users may have to adapt practices to some degree, however wood heating systems may be less convenient and more expensive for gas users.
Coal and oil users especially those not on natural gas grid, should be seen as the target market as they would be most likely to convert to new wood systems in the short to medium term.
Co-firing with Biomass
Co-firing is the simultaneous combustion of fossil fuels and biomass. It has the potential in existing coal or peat fired power stations to act as a catalyst to the development of a viable electrical industry within Ireland. There are also opportunities for co-firing heat systems. The Irish building industry consumed 266 ktoe of coal and petroleum coke in 2003 the vast bulk being in the cement industry.
The percentage of biomass fuel that can be added to the mix can be up to 30% in some cases. Co-firing with peat and coal brings about an immediate reduction in carbon emissions and utilises the existing infrastructural grid connections and investments of current operating power stations.
“Because it provides an immediate demand for vast quantities of biomass fuel co-firing has the potential to provide considerable penetration of the biomass in the short term and to create demand pull to develop supply chains for the wider bioenergy markets.”
Possibilities for Co-firing in Ireland
There are a number of electrical generation stations throughout the country which all take in pulverised/grinded solid fuels such as coal and peat as their inputs so this means there is no fundamental problem in mixing other fuels such as wood chips or pellets.
Four Generating stations within Ireland:
Moneypoint - coal fuelled power plant, net electrical output 855 MW
Edenderry - peat fuelled power plant, net electrical output of 117 MW
Lough Ree - peat fuelled power plant, net electrical output of 91 MW
West Offaly - Peat fuelled power plant, net electrical output 136 MW
Coal firing stations are not as open to as high a percentage of biomass co-firing as peat fired ones - Edenderry could take 20% co-firing whilst Moneypoint could only take 5%.
Co-firing in Moneypoint is not cost effective in the near future unless coal prices rise and emission trading prices go above 30€ per tonne CO2. Peat plant co-firing up to 30% is feasible and projected to be economically attractive. (once emissions trading costs are factored in)
Issues for Co-firing
With generating plants such as Lough Ree, Edenderry and West Offaly being in close proximity to one another their resource catchment area will overlap which would result in competition between plants for fuel resources.
No other pathway could provide such a large demand for fuel with so little market development. i.e. There would be one single buyer and use, instead of many different customers, locations and uses for any other end use of the fuel.
This would cause the wood sector to come under pressure to provide such a large amount of fuel and a plant would absorb all available resource within a region. However a plant would be able to adjust its relative use of peat and biomass to allow for changes in supply.
It is doubtful that all the power stations would co-fire to their feasible potential if existing wood products were the only fuel. The creation of a model that co-fires using energy crops such as willow and miscanthus would create such a demand that would make the growing of energy crops a feasible and economically viable way for farmers to make a return.
Currently all the peat stations within Ireland have 15 year fuel purchase agreements with the state owned Bord na Mona. The agreement states that the plant must pay for the fuel whether it is taken or not. These agreements are severely hindering the deployment of co-firing as it is uneconomic while these agreements exist.
As Bord na Mona is a state owned company it would be reasonable and legitimate to request a modification in the agreement to seize the benefits of co-firing.
The importation of fuel is also an option for generating stations wishing to co-fire. It is anticipated that this may occur at cost competitive rates. The benefits of reduced emissions would remain however the local benefits would be lost e.g. economic gain and exploitation of indigenous fuels.
The peat for electricity generation brings employment benefits and is supported as part of the Public Service Obligation that appears on the bills of electrical customers nevertheless there should not be any negative impacts on employment in the associated sectors by moving away from peat to biomass as a fuel input and indeed this may bring benefits.
There are two main types of energy crops miscanthus and short rotation coppice. (SRC)
Miscanthus is a fast growing grass with good energy properties in terms of density and moisture content. Its harvesting requires very little changes in practices or equipment for farmers used to growing annual field crops. Although it is a temperate zone crop it generally requires drier and warmer conditions than those available in more northern parts of the country.
Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) is based on the planting of fast growing tree saplings (willow most common). During the first years growth they are cut back which in subsequent years influences rapid thick growth. Harvesting does not commence until the 4th year but continues over 20-30 years.
To date few plantations have occurred in Ireland and at current prices energy crops find it difficult to compete with fossil fuels economically. It is likely however that interest would increase if returns improved and markets for energy crops appeared to be reliable.
Willow SRC is well understood in terms of growth, harvesting and energy usage and for these reasons it is the most widely planted biomass energy crop. A plantations lifespan lasts about 15-20yrs and land can also be returned to conventional use in 1 or 2 yrs.
Miscanthus grass is less developed as a biomass energy crop than SRC Willow. Its main advantages are it is similar to other conventional field crops and that it offers an annual harvest. Therefore there is less need for change in part of farmer's practices. i.e. It is cut and baled
Biomass energy crops require less pesticides than conventional agricultural crops which means higher levels of damage can be accepted than for a food crop.
Internationally energy crops are seen as the main future source of biomass for energy.
Current State and Potential
At present there is very little land in Ireland being utilised for the growth of energy crops. There are trial plots in place however with these covering less than 100ha in total. Theoretically vast amount of land could be utilised for energy crops were farmers to switch over from conventional methods of farming.
In Ireland approximately 4.4m ha of land is used for agriculture (64% of total land area).
80% devoted to grass
11% to rough grazing
9% crop production
It would not be desirable or practical to cover landscape with willow. Due to CAP reform and decoupling, all 600ha of land projected to be freed up due to a reduction in cereal productions. 132,000 ha expected to be freed up due to herd reduction. These figures give an extent of available land that could be utilised to meet energy crop needs.
Some changes in practice are required to encourage farmers to grow energy crops. Difficulties could arise as the crops have to be harvested in winter to minimise water content and to allow nutrient recovery from leaf shedding. This proves difficult in soft and wet ground. A solution to this would be the development of a harvester that can adapt to these conditions and that can be shared among a group of growers as is done with combine harvesters. To support farmers in Northern Ireland the government has purchased a harvester to demonstrate how the technology can be used.
It is expected that innovative farmers will become more market orientated as their basic income is secure through the single farm payment allowing them to choose what to grow to best supplement this income.
Cost and Benefits
The RECP report shows: Currently projected returns per ha are less in comparison to many conventional crop choices. As it takes SRC 4 years to produce revenue its appeal is also damaged. However should yields increase and oil and gas prices continue rising the profitability of energy crops will improve as prices available for alternative fuels rise. Demand certainty to the farmer is as important as profit/ha and having a definite market would be a very important factor in their decision making.
Biomass Combined Heat and Power Pathway
Combined Heat and Power (CHP) is the simultaneous production of heat and electricity.
It is increasingly growing as important technology for energy production since it maximises the extraction of usable energy from its input fuel and can generate energy at many scales and at any location whether it is connected to the main grids or not.
The CHP Policy group is currently considering the issues for CHP in Ireland, including updating targets and proposing new policies and measures for support.
One such issue being looked at is the use of CHP that is fuelled by biomass fuels. Biomass CHP brings all the benefits of conventional CHP but also brings wider benefits. The foremost of these is the additional environmental gain of carbon neutrality, and the extension of CHP potential beyond the natural gas grid. (Most CHP projects are nat gas fuelled CHP not considered where nat gas is unavailable.)
Biomass CHP is typically fuelled by wood as chips or pellets derived from sawmill residues.
Status and Potential
There is currently 135 MWe of CHP in Ireland, spread across 105 units. There is only one biomass CHP unit at present, a 1.9 MWe (and 3.5MWth) system fuelled by bark, sawdust and woodchips, based at a sawmill plant in County Cork.
Looking at the geographical spread of the resource there is probably scope for about 2-3 big projects in Ireland and a larger number of mid range projects. The Sawmills and boardmills should be the primary target group for the larger systems due to the readily available of wood fuel to them.
Issues for Biomass CHP
The main barriers that apply to the uptake of CHP also apply to biomass CHP. These relate mostly to selling electricity, grid connection issues to market access and pricing. The CHP Policy group is currently trying to address these problems.
Large CHP units entail substantial fuel supply that must be secure and reliable. As an example a 20MW unit would require an input of about 10 tonnes of wood fuel per hour. This may impose a practical limitation. The scope for such large units in Ireland may be limited but the scope for mid size units (of the order of 1 to 3 MWe is considerably greater.
- Government Policy and Support Measures
Support Schemes/Grants Available
Government Objectives - Energy Policy Framework 07-20
See Budget 07
Sustainable Energy Programme of NDP 07-13
EU Strategic Energy Review
In 2007 the Irish Government issued a bioenergy action plan to form an integrated strategy for the collective delivery of the potential benefits of the bioenergy resources across the agriculture, enterprise, transport, environment and energy sectors. The following outlines what each of the departments hopes to achieve:
Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources
Expand the REFIT feed in-tariff support scheme to facilitate co-firing in peat stations to 30% by 2015.
Set a target of 5% renewable share in the heating sector by 2010.
Set a target of 12% renewable share in the heating sector for 2020 (taking into account the target of 30% co-firing in the Peat stations by 2015)
Expand the Greener homes scheme to provide support for residential customers to adopt renewable technologies for heating. This is being delivered through an additional €20m provided in Budget 2007.
Expand the commercial Bioheat scheme to include a combination of renewable technologies e.g. solar and wood chip (Being delivered through additional €4m provided in Budget 07.
Expand the eligibility of the commercial Bioheat Scheme to include voluntary and community sectors.
Research and Development
Increase in research projects across the bioenergy sector through SEI's research and development programmes.
Through the Charlie Parsons Awards programme build increased research capacity across the bioenergy sector.
Department of Agriculture and Food
Introduce an additional €6m energy crop “top up” payment of €80 per hectare on top of the existing EU Energy Crops premium of €45 per hectare payment.
Introduce an €8m Bioenergy Scheme to provide establishment grants to encourage farmers to plant new energy crops such as Miscanthus and Willow.
Introduce a €1.2m dedicated Wood Biomass harvesting machinery grant programme for wood chippers and forest residue bundlers.
Encourage a rate of Afforestation that is suitable for and sufficient to meet increased market demand for wood in the medium to long term
Introduce a FEPS scheme to facilitate increased levels of afforestation.
Develop and support the forest wood energy chain to deliver quality wood fuel at a competitive price.
Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government
The department intends amending current planning guidelines to facilitate the development of micro renewable technologies at a domestic level. They also intend initiating research into the extension of exempted development provisions for micro renewable at industrial and retail/commercial sites. The department also hope to review within 12 months Part L of the Building Regulations to incentivise the use of renewable technologies for heating in buildings and significantly raise the energy efficiency requirements in new buildings by at least 40%.
Office of Public Works
The OPW is to develop the new building programme to include bioenergy heating systems. Bioenergy heating systems are to become the standard norm in the new OPW buildings.
The OPW also intends converting within 12 months 20 of the largest buildings to bioenergy heating systems.
They also intend to establish an initial target of 10% energy savings in 20 of the OPW's largest buildings, through the piloting of a new web based energy monitoring system and expanding this programme to a further 230 buildings on completion of the pilot programme. The OPW also proposes to use combined heat and power (CHP) technologies in future major site developments
When considering new buildings for lease more favourable consideration is to be given to buildings which use bioenergy and other renewable technologies.
Department of Education and Science
The Dept. of Education and Science hopes to broaden the existing programme of bioenergy in schools which started with the installation of biomass systems in 8 additional schools in Summer 2007.
All Departments and Agencies
Develop a fully coordinated cross agency information and education programme to provide high quantity bioenergy technology information to the public to raise awareness and acceptance of bioenergy technologies.
SEI and Enterprise Ireland will together develop a set of industry and product standards in the biomass area to ensure high efficiency standards in the developing pellet and woodchip markets.
SEI and FAS are to ensure that renewable energy installer training is mainstreamed into building industry training programmes
Develop working with Northern Ireland, an all island approach to developing the bioenergy sector over the next three years.
- Case Study- Kelly's Resort Hotel
5.1.1Description of the Building
Kelly's Resort Hotel in Rosslare Co. Wexford was founded in 1895 and is one of Irelands top four-star resort hotels. Its facilities include 117 bedrooms and suites, three restaurants, two bars, an aqua club and fitness centre with two indoor swimming pools, a steam room, sauna and outdoor Canadian hot tub. The hotel complex also incorporates a 1400m² building housing a spa complex and various swimming pools and treatment rooms.
5.1.2Previous Boiler Installation
The existing heating system consisted of three 150 kW oil fuelled boilers which served a continual heat demand throughout the year for domestic hot water and the pool, increasing in the winter to include the hotel space heating. This was fed from an external oil storage tank located xxxxxx end of the building.
Consumption of oil for 2005 was 172,141 litres from February to December. This equated to a fuel consumption of approximately 1,833,301 KWh per annum. Heat output was estimated at 1,613,304 KWh, based on an assumed 88% efficiency of the oil boilers. The current oil price equates to approximately €0.06 per KWh giving Kelly's an estimated running cost of €109,998.06 per annum.
The hospitality industry is not thought of as being particularly green - huge heating, air conditioning and lighting demands make for massive energy consumption. Life in today's world is critically dependant on the availability of a secure supply of energy in a convenient form so the threat of depleting oil resources has the potential to change the world as we know it.
As concern over rising energy prices continues to grow so does the number of Irish Hotels and guest houses embracing environmentally friendly technologies. The use of alternative and renewable energy sources says a lot about the environmental commitment of a particular property's owner or operator. The following hotel is just an example of one of a number that are speaking out against global warming and the use of fossil energies by embracing renewable sources such as solar, geothermal and biomass.
Between June 2000 and April 2006 the price of oil, gas and electricity to small commercial users in Ireland rose significantly. For high energy users such as the hotel, the impact of such increases on day-to-day operating costs was considerable.
By late 2005 it was clear that Kelly's Resort hotel was facing a number of challenges in terms of managing and budgeting its heating costs.
The hotel wanted to reduce costs and move to a more sustainable, environmentally friendly approach in terms of the ongoing management of the facility. In summary the objective was to reduce and stabilise heating costs in a sustainable and secure manner.
5.2.1Why use Wood fuel?
When considering converting to a wood-chip-fuelled system the managing director had two key aims in mind:
- The need to reduce costs.
- A desire to significantly improve the environmental impact of operations at the hotel.
The key benefits of a woodchip fuelled system for the hotel would be:
- A woodchip boiler can operate at 90% efficiency; in comparison to the hotel's existing oil fired systems which were capable of operating at only 80% efficiency - even when optimum maintenance levels were applied.
- The cost of woodchip fuel is 2 cent per KWh delivered, whereas the cost of oil fuel is 6 cent per KWh
- Wood fuel is carbon neutral.
- Wood fuel is a sustainable energy supply whereas oil is a finite fossil fuel.