Forward-thinking: A green alternative to electricity

Luke Parker
Forward-thinking: A green alternative to electricity

Businesses across New Zealand currently use a range of fuels including coal, diesel, LPG and electricity to heat and power their operations.

But a South Canterbury business is committed to providing an greener alternative.


Canterbury Woodchip Supplies owner Brad Coleman

Based in Arundel, Canterbury Woodchip Supplies (CWSL) produces custom-made woodchips which are used as renewable fuel for boiler systems, creating a clean and cost-effective energy source.

SEE ALSO: Looking to start exporting?

Owner Brad Coleman says the industry is growing and there’s a real appetite from major businesses and governmental institutions to generate heat through burning fuel procured from a sustainable resource.

“Hillmorton Hospital in Christchurch was converted to wood fuel in 2012, and more recently the Burwood Hospital has installed 6.5MW of wood-fuelled energy generation in preparation for the opening of the new hospital in the second quarter of next year.”

CWSL employs 10 fulltime staff and offers woodchips specifically designed to meet with boiler manufacturer’s requirements.


Making the most of the leftovers 

Brad says in order to create a sense of confidence and explain the reasons to break away from conventional fossil fuels with this relatively new technology, it was important for them to understand where their feed-stock would ultimately come from.


“Whilst the forestry sector is a major contributor to New Zealand GDP, it became apparent there were large volumes of timber that didn't meet the grade.

“These timbers are typically absorbed back into the domestic market and hold a far lesser value proposition to the forester and land owner alike. Furthermore, the butts, slovens and slash wood from the tree harvest is often considered a waste product and usually left to decompose on the forest floor.”

He says CWSL has developed the necessary plant and machinery to process these discarded woods into a highly valuable energy source.


“We are confident that as demand grows, our recovery of such material will become more economical and play an integral role in not only our own future, but also that of the industry as a whole.”

The greatest benefit to using woodchip is that it’s carbon neutral.

“The tree sequesters carbon throughout its growing life which is then released during the burning process,” Brad says. “Modern boiler technology is very well advanced and performs to an extremely high level of efficiency, thereby ensuring minimal volumes of particulates and ash.”

Low emissions, simple operation, and clean storage facilities are also some of the other paybacks.


Enhancing New Zealand’s green credentials

Brad says looking solely at price, coal remains the cheapest form of energy for many users, particularly the larger scale companies.

“At face value it is relatively simple to understand the reluctance to change this model especially when margins are becoming tighter and greater profitability is a constant underlying expectation."

woodchipsHe says as the global focus shifts toward the use of cleaner energies, it’s important the ‘true cost’ is measured by including the long term positive/negative effects to the environment.

“Being part of this paradigm shift is perhaps our proudest achievement to date, giving credibility to a renewable energy sector that will further enhance New Zealand’s green credentials in the world.”

The latest example and testament to this shift in attitude is the Timaru District Council electing to run the new C-Bay swimming pool complex on woodchip.

The woodchip revolution appears to have begun.

SEE ALSO: Looking to start exporting?

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