Wood is replacing coal as the fuel of choice for big energy users all over New Zealand, with Southland leading the way on wood energy conversions.
Food manufacturers, dairy processing companies, sawmills and other industrial users need boilers to supply heat to manufacture their products, while many hospitals and schools also use boilers for heating and hot water. In the past these boilers were nearly always fueled by coal but these days more and more organisations are switching to wood energy as a cost effective and environmentally sustainable way to meet their energy needs.
Wood energy makes use of forestry by-products such as the residue left behind when trees are harvested in the forest or wood chips generated in the sawmill. It comes in the form wood chips or wood pellets – a high-energy fuel made from compressed sawdust or wood shavings.
Wood energy is carbon neutral. This is because the carbon absorbed by a growing tree is the same amount that is released when the wood is burned or when it rots – so burning wood energy neither increases nor decreases the amount of carbon cycling in the atmosphere. Fossil fuels on the other hand bring sequestered carbon up out of the ground in the form of coal, oil or gas and release this into the atmosphere when the fuel is burned, contributing to an increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Switching to wood fuel means not only reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping New Zealand to meet its climate targets, but it’s also a lot cleaner. Burning wood generates only a small amount of compostable ash and most of the emissions are water vapour - no sooty smoke!
Watch this video to learn more about wood fuel:
Have a look at this video to learn about Takitimu School’s switch to wood energy for their school boiler: