Feasibility Assessment for Biomass Heating Systems at Pearl Creek, Weller, Two Rivers and Salcha Elementary Schools

Coffman performed a preliminary biomass feasibility assessment for the Fairbanks North Star Borough to determine the technical and economic viability of biomass heating systems at four elementary schools in the Fairbanks area of Alaska: Pearl Creek, Weller, Two Rivers and Salcha. The proposed biomass heating systems are wood pellet boilers located in detached modules with heating pipes to the schools. A local wood pellet supplier would deliver pellets to an adjacent wood pellet silo.

Due to the current low price of heating oil at $2.90/gal, the benefit to cost ratios for each school is less than 1.0 and therefore the wood pellet systems at the schools are not economically justified at this time.

However, the price of heating oil can vary greatly over time and as heating oil prices rise these projects can become economically viable. For example, when heating oil reaches $3.50/gal the wood pellet boiler projects at Pearl Creek and Weller become economically justified.

The pellet boiler projects at Pearl Creek and Weller are more economic than at Two Rivers and Salcha. The reason for this is the greater amount of heating oil that can be offset in the larger schools of Pearl Creek and Weller, compared to the cost of the new pellet boiler system. Two Rivers and Salcha are less economic due to the relatively small heating oil offset and high project costs.