IBCE tours District Energy St. Paul, Target Field

By Kolby Hoagland | April 12, 2013

A dedicated group of biomass professionals braved winter storm Walda and the half foot of snow that it dropped on Minneapolis to visit District Energy St. Paul, Environmental Wood Supply (EWS), and Target Field on the final day of the 2013 International Biomass Conference & Expo.

Operated by Ever-Green Energy, District Energy St. Paul and EWS offered tour attendees a first-hand view of how biomass procurement, processing and energy conversion all successfully occur in a bustling urban setting. Through strong partnerships with municipal foresters, more than 280,000 tons of wood waste from the Twin Cities area is sourced and brought to the EWS wood yard where it is chipped, screened and held for use at the District Energy St. Paul power plant. Just a three-mile trip down the road, District Energy St. Paul receives 60 truckloads of biomass fuel a day from EWS, which is converted into a variety of energy products at the downtown St. Paul plant. A 35 MW boiler transforms the biomass into steam for a 25 MW turbine and the heating and cooling needs for downtown St. Paul.

More than 80 percent of downtown St. Paul’s heating and cooling demand is met by the plant’s output. Embodying sustainable energy goals, District Energy St. Paul employs a dual-use hot and cold thermal storage tank and solar arrays (passive solar and photo voltaic) to alleviate peak load demands on the grid for its cooling and heating services. The diversity of energy products that District Energy St. Paul creates from the combustion of biomass is a key to their success, according to Nina Axleson, director of public relations.

The third stop on the tour was a tour of Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins. Only three years old, Target Field was built with an emphasis on sustainability and biomass utilization. All the space and water heating demand of Target Field is satisfied by Hennepin Energy Resource Company, which is located adjacent to the ballpark. The field itself is heated with biomass-heated water to allow the boys of summer to play in the wintry conditions. While viewing memorabilia from Twins greats like Kirby Puckett and Harmon Killebrew, tour attendees were able to steal a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how Target Field achieves league-leading sustainability standards through a commitment to bioenergy.

All three stops on the industry tour articulated the importance of bioenergy for the infrastructure and economy of the Twin Cities, while offering a penchant for upper Midwest charm and diligence.