Wood Energy Financial App Needs Updated Data

The Biomass Thermal Energy Council has been collaborating with the U.S. Forest Service and University of Minnesota to update the Wood Energy Financial Calculator.
By David Bancroft | June 30, 2017

The Biomass Thermal Energy Council has been collaborating with the U.S. Forest Service and University of Minnesota to update the Wood Energy Financial Calculator.

BTEC has been evaluating and working to enhance the background data used in the wood boiler-sizing functions of the tool. In addition, BTEC has been refining the financial calculations through the inclusion of recently installed biomass thermal heating sites, focusing on additional fuels like cordwood and specific cost breakdowns for major project elements.

Designed as a prefeasibility tool, the calculator enables commercial and institutional site owners (e.g. energy managers or building superintendents for schools, hospitals, municipal facilities, etc.) to quickly estimate the financial opportunity to fuel switch from fossil fuels to woody biomass for their onsite thermal energy needs, with an acceptable level of confidence.

Accurate and timely cost information is necessary for communities and businesses when they are considering their conversion from fossil-fueled heating systems to woody biomass. Engineering and project development firms often employ their own, proprietary formulas for determining such financial analyses, though these tools are typically used as part of a larger feasibility study. This calculator bridges the gap from facilities that have only initially considered woody biomass as a replacement fuel, to a professionally conducted feasibility study. The tool allows users to do a simple and quick analysis to see if wood energy is a viable alternative for their facility, as it only requires knowledge of existing energy inputs and costs. The tool’s effectiveness is increased when candidates are coached or led through the data entry process by a trained volunteer.

One of the most important parts of the calculator, which can be accessed at woodenergyproject.com, is the data detailing system costs. Currently, the wood energy system costs are several years old, so BTEC is requesting the assistance of all those in the bioenergy field who build, design and install systems to fill out a survey form on recently installed systems. That survey can be found at the top of our home page. BTEC is especially interested those systems that have been installed 2015-‘17.  Please note that any information compiled will be held completely confidential, and only aggregated data will be used within the cost curve calculations for boiler size. All survey information is requested by Aug. 1, and can be turned in to david.bancroft@biomassthermal.org.

BTEC hopes to roll out the revised tool on Bioenergy Day, Oct. 18, providing increased functionality for all those thinking about wood energy conversions.


Author: David Bancroft
Technical Engagement Manager
Biomass Thermal Energy Council
David.bancroft@biomassthermal.org
www.biomassthermal.org