Helping South Island schools get heat smart

WSP Opus worked with schools in the South to convert old coal fired boilers to burning wood biomass – a more sustainable and long-term energy solution.

The projects saw the schools replace their existing coal boilers with new biomass pellet boilers of both New Zealand and European design.

The recommendation to switch to biomass boilers came after we reviewed the schools’ needs and compared the whole of life costs of the available energy options. As part of the design commission, we successfully applied for resource consent on the schools’ behalf for long term discharge consent to ensure they would be able to use the boilers for their complete economic lifetime, to maximise the return on investment.

We also provided designs for converting existing coal-fired boilers to burn wood pellets. The design process examined alternative fuel costs and accounted for security of supply risk. The final design implemented combustion control for optimum fuel efficiency and minimal discharge of combustion products, in keeping with National Environmental Standards for air quality.

These projects have provided schools with long term solutions to their heating needs using a renewable energy source while meeting National Environmental Standards. Biomass boilers have enabled the participating schools to efficiently use their existing heating distribution plant with low life cycle costs.