Benefits of biomass

Article image - Benefits of biomass Mayor Cr Max Oberlander, Cr Karen Stephens and Cr Robert Halliday at the city’s biomass plant and wood chip storage pit.

Glenelg Shire Council is researching the benefits of installing a biomass system fuelled by wood chips to provide heating and electricity to its civic buildings.

Councillors and senior staff recently toured Mount Gambier City Council’s biomass system at the city aquatic centre, which is powered by a wood-chip fuelled boiler providing heated water for the facility’s three pools.

The plant, which has a maximum output of 650 kilowatts, saves the council about 58 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually, making it an efficient and effective energy source.

The unit uses about 550 tonnes of wood chip during the centre’s six month operating period, from the start of October to end of March.

Glenelg Shire Council’s Portland-based amenities are currently powered by gas-powered hot water boilers.

Glenelg Shire Chief Executive Officer, Greg Burgoyne, said Portland’s geothermal system, which was decommissioned in 2006, provided an integrated pipe network to supply a similar biomass power source across the civic precinct.

He said a biomass system would further position Portland as the nation’s green energy hub, complementing geothermal, windfarm and solar energy production.

“Portland is the world’s biggest exporter of woodchips and there is a great opportunity to use this easily sourced product to provide green energy to our civic buildings and infrastructure whilst supporting jobs in the local timber industry.

“Unlike gas, which currently heats the YMCA facility and broader council buildings, this biomass power is carbon neutral and considerably more affordable to operate, providing a direct saving to our rate payers.

“Mount Gambier City Council’s pool facility is constantly in demand because this unique power source provides a reliable and comfortable pool temperature of 27 to 28 degrees for the Olympic pool whilst the smaller learner pools remain consistently at 30 to 32 degrees. This reliability ensures the council consistent user numbers and therefore a profitable recreation space.”

Council is currently investigating Federal and State Government funding opportunities to deliver a potential biomass investment.