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ESF Receives $963,000 for Gateway Energy System

Combined-heat-and-power system will provide heat, power for other buildings

The Gateway Building is under construction on the ESF campus.

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) has received a $963,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to help fund an innovative $3 million combined-heat-and-power system that will provide energy and heat for the College's new Gateway Building.

The College broke ground on the $28.3 million building in August. The Gateway Building, designed to achieve a U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification, will house the combined heat-and-power (CHP) systems.

The CHP project is made up of two complimentary systems. The first is a biomass-based system that will produce high-pressure steam which will be used to generate electricity by moving through a steam turbine before it is used to heat campus buildings. Complementing the biomass system will be three natural gas-fired microturbines that will provide a balance of electricity and steam for heating.

The CHP system will provide the Gateway Building and four other buildings on campus with both thermal and electrical energy. Combined heat-and-power systems produce electrical and thermal energy simultaneously, reducing waste energy and improving overall system efficiency.

This system will provide approximately 70 percent of campus heating needs and 20 percent of campus electrical needs while reducing the campuswide carbon footprint by 22 percent. It is a major component of ESF's Climate Action Plan.

"The CHP project is a critical component of ESF's plan to make the College carbon neutral by 2015," said Michael Kelleher, ESF's director of renewable energy systems."The CHP system significantly reduces ESF's reliance on fossil fuels."

Kelleher also said, "The project has a balance of efficiency improvements (the natural gas microturbines produce electricity and heat more efficiently than traditional sources) and fuel switching (the biomass system utilizes a local sustainable source of fuel for the bulk of ESF's heating needs."

The Gateway Building's biomass boiler will use wood pellets for fuel. Wood pellets were chosen as the primary source of biomass because they have a higher energy density than comparable fuel sources, are cleaner than other biomass sources and will provide a reliable automated fuel source for the Gateway Building, similar to delivered propane or fuel oil. ESF hopes to eventually use hybrid willow as a source for the wood pellets used in the biomass CHP. ESF has been a leader in developing hybrid willow as a biofuel source.