The Queenstown Lakes District Council and Central Otago District Council are to partner with two national agencies to investigate the uses of wood bio-waste for heating commercial buildings.
The two councils, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and the Department of Conservation (DOC) are pooling resources for a feasibility study around the collection and processing of waste wood into pellets or wood chips locally for the local market.
QLDC’s district forester Briana Pringle said the product was used in bio-waste burners which were clean and highly efficient but currently, users had to bring in bio-fuel from out-of-town.
“We have plenty of raw material here like wilding pines, we need to find out if it will be economical to turn them into a fuel source and if so, will there be demand for what is produced?” Ms Pringle said.
As well as offering advantages in terms of energy efficiency and cleanness, bio-waste was potentially cheaper than coal and oil and could also offer another option in an area which has been heavily reliant on electricity and LPG.
Bio-waste pellet and chip burners also met the criteria of the Otago Regional Council’s Air Plan.
Research for the study is already underway with Ahika Consulting and the Otago Polytechnic Centre for Sustainable Practice surveying local schools and businesses on their current energy uses and the potential for them to convert to wood energy in future. A community meeting for interested parties would also be held sometime in February.
“We’re already seeing bio-fuel used locally at facilities like the Wanaka Community Pool where a bio-fuel boiler was installed last year,” Ms Pringle said.
“It will be interesting to see what, if any, potential there is for expanding on that.”