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Realising Pellet Stoves' Potential for Pollution and Green House Gas Reduction
Summary Wood pellet heaters have many benefits compared to conventional wood heaters. They are resource efficient, enabling 23 times as many houses to be heated for an equivalent quantity of conventional firewood, and emit less than a tenth of the air pollution and methane. Pollution and methane emissions are both serious problems. A recent analysis (Robinson, submitted to Atmospheric Pollution Research) shows that methane emissions from the average Australian domestic log heater cause more global warming than heating the same home with gas. In Armidale, NSW, measured woodsmoke pollution was estimated to increase mortality by about 7%, with estimated cost of about $4270 per woodheater per year.
Pellet stove heating offers a "winwin" solution, providing controllable heat that can be turned off when not required, the ambience of "visible fire" lacking in other forms of space heating, as well as substantially improved urban air quality, reduced methane emissions, and the potential to burn plantation timber and crop wastes. This would help solve some of the problem associated with current firewood use in eastern Australia, which is considered unsustainable and a potential threat to native wildlife. However, pellet stoves face serious barriers to adoption, in that householders will not purchase pellet heaters unless there is a proven and affordable supply of pellets. Additional investment in pellet manufacture will not occur in the absence of an assured market of pellet stove owners. This project aims to overcome this market failure by providing information to encourage investment in local pellet manufacture and retailing.
Program Bioenergy, Bioproducts and Energy
Research organisation Southern New England Landcare Ltd
Objective summary Investigate the potential for pellet heating in NSW, first by examining the logistics and popularity of pellet heaters in other locations (e.g. Tasmania, New Zealand) to identify any barriers to widespread use as replacements for conventional wood heaters, e.g. lack of awareness of the health and environmental benefits compared with conventional wood heaters, general consumer acceptability, and the potential to manufacture and supply pellets at an affordable price.
The project will also consider the potential to use locally grown timber for pellet manufacture, and the economic viability of producing pellets locally. Pellet manufacture requires heat, so the project will compile information on emerging technologies, such as solar drying kilns that could lower the cost & carbon footprint of manufacture.
The final step will be to use the knowledge gained to encourage sustainable use of pellet heaters, reducing air pollution, the environmental damage and threats to native wildlife from nonsustainable firewood collection and the substantial contribution to global warming from methane emissions of conventional log heaters. Relevant information will be distributed to industry bodies, via landcare groups, by industry partners including Armidale Dumaresq Council, to local community groups and the broader community and at Armidale’s Sustainable Living Expo.
Project Stage Closed
Project start date Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Project completion date Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Journal articles from project Not Available
National priority An environmentally sustainable Australia
Rural priority Soil, water and managing natural resources
RIRDC goal BBE-Bioenergy, Bioproducts and Energy
Principal researcher David Carr
Research manager Duncan Farquhar
Admin contact Ellen Nyberg