At six public schools across the Prince of Wales Island in Alaska, the installation of modern wood heating systems has fueled a surge of energy savings, student entrepreneurship and, surprisingly, improved nutrition.
Now that renewable energies are cost competitive with fossil fuels in many markets around the world, they are starting to be implemented as mainstream sources of energy in countries like Sweden and Costa Rica. More locally, many communities and Tribal Nations are also working on achieving energy independence through renewables. In pursuing its goal of being a true sovereign Nation, the Spokane Tribe of Indians of Washington is emerging as an innovative leader in attaining self-sufficiency.
Richard DeWolf’s Portland-based company, Versatile Wood Products, specializes in the restoration and remodel of historical doors, windows and cabinetry. In the course of a single year, that work produces a significant amount of wood waste and sawdust, to the tune of about 100 total tons per year.
DeWolf wanted to find a sustainable way to get rid of those excess materials. So he teamed up with another Portland firm, Wisewood Energy, to design and install a biomass boiler system that takes what would have been dumped in a landfill and turns it into fuel to heat Versatile Wood Products’ 40,000-square-foot facility in North Portland.
The culture of Central Oregon is a place-based one. The region is known for its bright skies beyond the gray Willamette Valley, high snowy peaks perfect for winter recreation, pumpkin colored pine trees that provide a scenic backdrop and playground, and of course, its craft brewing built on a rich watershed. Is it possible this place can also be known for its home-grown biomass energy?
Wisewood Energy specializes in community-scale biomass energy systems, whether for a single institution, district heating for a downtown area, or process heating for a larger industrial user. But, did you know biomass works at even smaller scales too? In fact, biomass boilers are very common in residential households across Europe, particularly pellet systems.
Last October we held the ribbon cutting celebration for Harney Community Energy (HCE), an innovative, first-of-its kind in the region, biomass district heating system in Burns Oregon. The system is providing heat to multiple community institutions on one common hot water loop using a single biomass boiler.