Alaska Wood Utilization Research and Development Center

Sitka, AK, United States

Alaska Wood Utilization Research and Development Center

Sitka, AK, United States
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Nicholls D.L.,Alaska Wood Utilization Research and Development Center
USDA Forest Service - General Technical Report PNW-GTR | Year: 2017

This research models a wood pellet heating system at the Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority in Juneau, Alaska, used to provide thermal energy to a 929-m2 warehouse, as an alternative to a heating system that burns more costly fossil fuels. Research objectives were to evaluate project economics of the pellet system and to conduct cost:benefit analysis on key variables (initial capital cost, fuel oil cost, and wood pellet cost). Economic results of interest included net present value, payback, internal rate of return, and cost:benefit ratio. Monte Carlo simulations were conducted using RETScreen software with the parameters of heating oil cost, wood pellet cost, fuel price escalation, and heating load. Cost:benefit analysis was conducted for capital cost versus wood fuel cost and also versus alternative fuel cost. This research found that economic performance was favorable over a wide range of normal operating conditions, even when paying a relatively high price for wood fuel. A pellet production facility in southeast Alaska could lead to lower wood fuel costs and even more favorable regional economics. © 2017, USDA Forest Service. All rights reserved.


Brackley A.M.,Alaska Wood Utilization Research and Development Center | Barber V.,University of Alaska Fairbanks
USDA Forest Service - General Technical Report PNW-GTR | Year: 2010

This study considered three aspects of residential wood energy use in Alaska: current conditions and fuel consumption, knowledge and attitudes, and future use and conditions. We found that heating oil was the primary fuel for home heating in southeast and interior Alaska, whereas natural gas was used most often in south-central Alaska (Anchorage). Firewood heating played a much more important role as a secondary (vs. primary) heating source in all regions of Alaska. In interior Alaska, there was a somewhat greater interest in the use of wood energy compared to other regions. Likewise, consumption of fossil fuels was considerably greater in interior Alaska. Cost was a primary factor influencing motivation to convert to wood energy. Most respondents were at least somewhat familiar with residential wood-burning systems, however relatively few were familiar with Environmental Protection Agency certified woodstoves. Firewood/cordwood was by far the preferred wood fuel choice, whereas wood briquettes were least preferred. Similarly, firewood was the type of wood fuel that respondents were most familiar with. Variations were observed between Alaska's primary regions (southeast, south-central, and interior). This could be attributed to a number of factors including colder climates in interior Alaska, and overall low use of wood energy in south-central Alaska because of preferences for natural gas. Fuel oil prices of $4.00 to $5.00 per gallon would be needed for most homeowners to convert to wood heating. There was a broad range of willingness to pay for new wood energy systems (from about $1,000 to $3,000). However, this survey was not random and results may not be representative of the populations at each sampling location.

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