Renewable energy group backs wood

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 18/06/2014
Paul Harrington
NICOLE JOHNSTONE/Fairfax NZ
McCallums Group sales and marketing manager Paul Harrington beside the company's energy-efficient boiler.

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Southland businesses and schools are being urged to lower carbon emissions in the region by swapping fossil fuels for wood energy.

Venture Southland and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) have partnered to create a renewable heat energy hub project for the region.

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges said the Government would commit $1.5 million funding during the three-year project to improve air quality and provide employment and business opportunities.

Venture Southland enterprise and strategic projects group manager Steve Canny said the project would investigate the replacement of aged heating sources with efficient energy boilers.

The funding would be used to undertake feasibility studies to identify costs, training, consultation, designs, advisory services and in some cases funding for projects.

The project would look at the possibility of using waste wood as a useful source and survey industry and community groups that used old boilers.

Several Southland businesses such as Slinkskins Ltd, Splash Palace and McCallums Group had replaced old boilers, and were making significant savings to energy charges, he said.

"Southland is an ideal place to set up a hub because it has forestry and wood processing which generates 300,000 tonne a year of potential wood fuel.

"There is demand for heat from commercial premises such as schools, offices, rest homes, hospitals, and industrial processes such as meat works, other factories and dairy processing."

The partnership would tie in well with the region's strong processing and manufacturing base and with work relating to dairy sector efficiency, he said.

EECA spokesman Mike Underhill urged businesses and organisations to make use of renewable wood energy, sourced from the region.

"EECA wants the Southland community to own and drive this project so that local know-how and resources can ensure its continued success long after the project's formal completion in 2017."

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