Wood Heat Maine

three images - left firewood; center pellets; right biomass

Modern Wood Heat – what do we mean?

Modern wood heat means ultra-modern automated central heating boilers and furnaces using wood chips and wood pellets as fuel. The Wood Heat Maine effort under the Maine Statewide Wood Energy Assistance Team is focused on commercial and institutional buildings (think schools, town halls, businesses, nursing homes and hospitals…among others) but modern wood heating also takes place in residential buildings – homes – as well. In residences the fuel is usually wood pellets and not wood chips and a few others may have new cordwood boilers. Large commercial installations usually use wood chips as fuel.

Here are some great resources on modern wood heat:

Maine commerical/institutional Modern Wood Heat users

Locations of commercial/institutional facilities in Maine using Modern Wood Heat (wood chips or pellets)

But do we have enough wood to support this use and not destroy the forest?

Maine is the most forested state in the U.S. – the Pine Tree State is nearly 90% forested. In addition, the data shows that more trees/tree volume is growing in Maine’s forests each year than are being harvested or die from natural processes. The following graph and information from Maine Measures of Growth 2017 report (Maine Economic Growth Council and Maine Development Foundation) shows this well:

Historic Trend in the Net Growth to Removal Ratio 1950-2015

Forest Growth and Removals in Maine – Shows Sustainable Management

Modern Wood Heat Videos

Here are some good modern woodheat videos from the northeast U.S region.

Financial Tools for Switching to Modern Wood Heat

Is switching to wood heat a good financial deal for you and your building? Do a quick calculation to get you started. Below is a handy comparison of the cost of various fossil and wood fuels – compared on a heat basis. A quick calculation is to take the number of gallons of heating oil or propane you use in a year and the cost of that compared to what it would cost with wood chips or wood pellets. Here is an example:

  1. Current Fossil Fuel
  2. 10,000 gallons of oil per year – 10,000 gal x $2.97/gal = $29,700 cost of heating building today with oil

    heat value – 10,000 gal x 138,000 BTUs per gal = 1,380,000,000 BTUs used per year

  3. Modern Wood Heat alternative
  4. 1,380,000,000 BTUs/16,800,000 BTUs/ton of fresh bole chips = 82 tons of chips per year

    82 tons of fresh bole wood chips = $4,920 per year for wood chip fuel to get the same heat

    Fuel Type Unit Cost Per Unit BTU Per Unit (Dry) Moisture Content MMBTU per Unit Cost Per MMBTU delivered Average Seasonal Efficiency Delivered MMBTU per unit Cost per MMBTU After Combustion
    Natural Gas Therm $1.30 100,000 0% 0.100 $13.00 85% 0.085 $15.29
    Oil Gallon $2.97 138,000 0% 0.138 $21.52 75% 0.104 $28.70
    Propane Gallon $3.34 92,000 0% 0.092 $36.30 85% 0.078 $42.71
    Wood Pellets Ton (Bulk Delivered) $250.00 16,800,000 4.0% 16.1 $15.50 80% 12.9 $19.38
    Fresh Bole Chips Ton $60.00 16,800,000 45% 9.2 $6.49 70% 6.5 $9.28
    Pallet Grindings Ton $60.00 16,800,000 15% 14.3 $4.20 80% 11.4 $5.25
    Refined Wood Chips ton $120.00 16,800,000 25% 12.6 $9.52 80% 10.1 $11.90

    Detailed Financial Calculators to Determine if Switching to Modern Wood Heat makes Financial Sense: