Bio energy powers pool heating

Article image - Bio energy powers pool heating Samantha Stevens and Darryl Outhwaite show off the woodchips that are keeping the pool heated. Photo courtesy of City of Albany.

A biomass boiler at the Albany, Western Australia (WA), Leisure and Aquatic Centre (ALAC) is now keeping the pool heated while significantly reducing the centre’s reliance on gas.

The boiler burned its first wood chips in November 2018, realising a project conceived five years ago to install a heating system that uses renewable energy.

It has allowed ALAC to switch off its gas system and relegate it to being a backup, saving about $50,000 per annum on gas.

Recreation Services Manager, Sam Stevens, said they had been working closely with local firm WA Biofuels to explore the potential for a renewable energy system.

“Transitioning to biofuel is both economically and environmentally beneficial.

“Running on gas heating has been very expensive and we have been at the mercy of the market, with gas prices extremely high at the moment.

“WA Biofuels has built and will own and operate the boiler system, there has been no up-front capital needed from the City to adopt this new technology.”

Darryl Outhwaite from WA Biofuels said the boiler would consume about 400 to 500 tonnes of woodchips a year, and the project had been able to support local employment in plumbing, electrical, engineering and forestry.

“It takes about two hours for the region’s timber plantations to regrow the amount of fuel that we need to heat the leisure centre for a year,” he said. 

“It’s not only renewable, but the trees planted also provided great landcare benefits in the form of clean air, water and biodiversity.”