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Balcas – switching from oil and electric heaters to wood pellets

Wood pellets as the full fuel source

The use of oil remains a very common method for heating in rural Ireland, but it is also a major cause of climate change. Our Balcas Enniskillen office block alone used about 7000 litres of oil a year for heating. In 2017, we decided to completely eliminate all oil heating from our office buildings and switch to wood pellet boiler systems. The wood pellets used to to supply the boiler are produced on-site from the co-products of our sawmill operations. The wood dust and wood chips available from these on-site operations serve as the full fuel source for the CHP and pellet plant operations. The benefits from these wood pellet burners are tangible: no smell of burning oil, no black smoke from the flue and – most importantly – 16 times fewer kilograms of CO2 per Kwh (0.016). when compared to oil.

Fully-renewable energy for long-term benefits

We have already introduced a wood pellet burner to our on-site stores facility, and plans are underway to introduce one to our production facility. This will remove the need for electric heaters, which are fed on grey electricity from the national grid, and will represent a full switch to a renewable energy. Once emitted, CO2 stays in the atmosphere for 100 years, so we’re pleased to be making this contribution to reducing climate change and decreasing air pollution. The environmental and health benefits of switching from oil and grey electricity to wood pellets will be felt well into the next century.