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Seattle Steam To Break Ground For Renewable Energy Facility

Seattle Steam Co. will break ground Oct. 7 on its renewable energy storage facility, shown here. Trucks will deliver wood waste to the facility, where it will be stored in a special silo (right) until it is needed as fuel for the biomass boiler located across the street. The wood waste will be transferred through an underground tunnel to the new boiler, already under construction. Graphic: Seattle Steam Co.
by Staff Writers
Seattle WA (SPX) Oct 06, 2008
The Seattle Steam has announced that it will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for its new renewable energy storage facility. Mayor Greg Nickels is scheduled to headline the program.

The program also will include King County Council Member Larry Phillips and Patrick Mazza, research director at Climate Solutions, an organization committed to accelerating practical and profitable solutions to global warming.

The groundbreaking will mark the official start of construction on a facility that will introduce "urban waste wood" (biomass) into Seattle Steam's fuel mix.

The biomass will be used to help produce steam for the company's extensive downtown district heating system, which serves 175 customers and has been a vital thermal energy provider to downtown Seattle since 1893.

The new renewable energy storage facility will be located directly across the street from the new biomass boiler facility, which is already under construction next to the company's Western Avenue Plant. Trucks will deliver waste wood to the renewable energy facility, where the biomass will be stored in a special silo.

The biomass then will be transferred from the silo through an existing tunnel underneath Western Ave. and used to fuel the new boiler. The boiler will burn natural gas until the wood storage facility is ready in late spring 2009. The entire project is scheduled for completion summer 2009. University Mechanical Contractors Inc. is serving as the general contractor.

Seattle Steam operates two plants: the Western Avenue Plant and the Post Street Station, both of which now burn natural gas and oil. Use of biomass at its main Western Ave. plant will add to the system's fuel flexibility and help its customers reduce their carbon footprints by more than 50 percent.

In addition, use of urban waste wood will help reduce clean waste headed to landfills and provide a cost-effective alternative to natural gas and oil. The U.S. Green Buildings Council recognizes this product as a renewable fuel source in its newest version of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System), offering building owners credits for connection to a biomass facility.

"Seattle Steam is concerned about climate change and is well aware of its role as an energy provider, especially in finding ways to reduce its customer's carbon footprints," says Stan Gent, president of Seattle Steam.

"It is in a unique position locally to take the lead in this global effort to reduce carbon and to serve as the energy manager for customers, who gain advantages not normally experienced by buildings that operate their own on-site boilers. Generally, a building with its own on-site boiler does not have the same fuel flexibility that a district heating system can offer. An individual building isn't likely to be able to use biomass and obtain the associated carbon reduction credits on its own. In addition, all of the steam delivered to a district-heated building is 100 percent efficient. Every pound of steam can be put to use for space heating, domestic hot water heating or process use. No efficiency rate needs to be factored in."

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