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ÖkoFEN Pellet Boilers Replace Fossil Fuel in Four More Schools

With almost $55 million from the State Sector Decarbonisation Fund being set aside to replace coal boilers in 90 schools or more, Apricus Eco Energy NZ have recently been involved in four replacements with more set to reap the benefits of their new ÖkoFEN biomass boilers soon. The benefits seen by these school are numerous:

Reliability and maintenance savings

Often existing boilers are unreliable and parts are no longer available. They frequently stop working and are a huge drain on time for caretakers and money for school budget.

At Netherton School in Paeroa, Principal Brook Hill comments, “The new boiler system is great. Our classrooms are beautiful and warm every morning with a consistent heat. Previously, the old boiler did take hours to warm up and by 10am most mornings the heat would start to disappear.”

ÖkoFEN boilers come with a ten year warranty. All other components are as specified by the boiler manufacturer and of an equal quality, with standard manufacturer’s warranties. All spare parts and warranty replacements are held here in New Zealand and there is a network of approved contractors for installation and maintenance.

Reduced costs and time of labour

A coal boiler is very labour intensive for caretakers and creates an unhealthy working environment with coal dust and high particulate emissions, plus local sulphurous emissions for children. These advanced pellet boiler systems include vacuum fuel supply and automatic burner plate cleaning and ash removal.

The caretaker at Netherton School describes the new pellet boiler as "boring" (in a good way) as he was always having to shovel coal each morning. The coal boiler would be set from 6am to 10am, whereas the new system is automated and has a pre-set temperature. The heating system will keep working until the outside temperature reaches 18°C and the classrooms are warm enough. At Te Kura Kaupapa Motuhake o Tawhiuau in Murupara it would take the caretaker six to eight hours a week to empty burnt coal slag and ash, an unnecessary use of time and a very unpleasant job.

Marginal rise in fuel costs

Te Kura Kaupapa Motuhake o Tawhiuau in Murupara last year burned 8.52 tonnes of coal costing the school $3,025. A cost which is set to rise in coming years. The cost for pellets is estimated at $4,000 and although the cost may fluctuate with the price of fuel for delivery, they have been offered a five year fixed price contract for supply. The current pricing sitting at around $382/tonne or $0.07/kWh, compared to coal at $355/tonne or $0.06/kWh. This is also considerably cheaper than diesel at $0.10/kWh and recent natural gas contracts being offered at $0.11/kWh.

Reduced emissions

Alongside the economic and labour savings, it really is the environment that wins. The fossil fuel boilers which are replaced with ÖkoFEN pellet boilers have emissions reductions of at least 98% because wood pellets have the lowest carbon emissions of any heating fuel in NZ. Wood pellets in NZ are 100% renewable, made from waste sawdust and the majority are manufactured using waste geothermal heat.

Edgecumbe College, Edgecumbe
Previously emitted: 91,746kg CO2e per year burning coal
73kg CO2e per pupil
Equivalent of travelling: 421,574km*
Will now emit: 830kg of CO2
99% reduction in carbon emissions with new pellet boiler.

Te Kura Kaupapa Motuhake o Tawhiuau, Murupara
Previously emitted: 18,249kg CO2e per year burning coal
212kg CO2e per pupil
Will now emit: 163kg CO2e per year to heat the school
Equivalent of travelling: 82,952km*
99% reduction in carbon emissions

Netherton School, Paeroa
Previously emitted: 9,810kg CO2e per year burning coal
73kg CO2e per pupil
Equivalent of travelling: 44,590km* (more than once around the world).
Will now emit: 110kg CO2e per year to heat the school
99% reduction in carbon emissions

Bayswater School, Auckland
Previously emitted: 5,724kg CO2e per year burning diesel
25kg CO2e per pupil
Equivalent of travelling: 26,018 km*
Will now emit: 65kg of CO2
99% reduction in carbon emissions
Plus 40% reduction in running costs, replacing diesel with pellets

*in an average, four seater internal combustion engine car

Educational opportunities

This sits well with the ethos of many schools who are educating our future leaders on environmental issues. Representatives from Bayswater School in Auckaland state, “As a Green-Gold Enviroschool we are proud to encourage care of our environment through the Bayswater School Care Code. The installation of the pellet boiler fits in perfectly with that ethos.”

Challenges and solutions

The challenge for most schools with the replacement is most likely to be the storage of the pellets which must be inside. They can be installed in a plant room or delivered as an ÖkoFEN Energy Box, a pre-fabricated, self-contained system ready for placement and connection on-site. These can deliver all central heating and hot water required from a single container (6m x 2.4m) or multiple containers for larger buildings.

Many of these challenges are faced by other building owners around NZ and the pellet boiler solutions can be applied for all building types and heat users, from hotels to swimming pools, hospitals to apartment buildings.

View more information on Apricus Eco Hotwater, including contact details.
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