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Colby College Building $11 Million Biomass Plant

As part of a plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2015, Colby College in Maine has begun construction on a biomass plant that will replace about 1 million gallons of heating fuel with about 22 thousand tons of locally sourced wood chips and forest waste annually, according to the college.

The school estimates that the $11.25 million facility will pay for itself in six to 10 years, based on pricing of oil and biomass. It is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2011. The plant will burn low-grade forest waste and debris including bark and treetops. The twin 400-horsepower biomass-fueled boilers will produce steam used for heat, hot water, cooking, and cogeneration of electricity. They will replace 90 percent of the 1.1 million gallons of heating oil used by Colby each year, the college reported.

The 15,800-square-foot plant is expected to save the college about $1 million annually once it is paid for, reports the Morning Sentinel.

In 2003, Colby moved to 100-percent renewable electricity sources, and began purchasing electricity generated from hydro, wind, and biomass. An on-campus cogeneration turbine supplies about 10% of the campus’s electrical needs from steam-plant exhaust. In EPA’s green power partnership, Colby had the highest percentage among participating colleges and universities nationwide in 2007-08 and 2008-09 and had the second-highest percentage in 2009-10, according to the school’s website.

From 2010 to 2015, the global biomass manufacturing market is projected to increase from $572.9 billion to $693.7 billion, according to EL Insights.

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