District energy infrastructure helps communities to integrate diverse fuels and energy sources, optimizing the system’s environmental profile while maintaining stable rates. Since 2003, St. Paul Cogeneration and District Energy St. Paul have benefited from the waste heat captured from the biomass-fueled combined heat and power (CHP) plant. Environmental Wood Supply collects local wood waste and processes it into wood chips. Using renewable biomass as fuel reduces the system’s carbon profile, provides a service to local communities, and leverages a Minnesota resource, which displaces fossil fuels and keeps energy investments local. In Saint Paul biomass-driven CHP helps the heating network avoids over 100,000 tons of carbon each year. The Environmental Protection Agency has recently been studying the carbon profile of energy from biomass, and continues to support the use of recovered wood waste as a carbon-free fuel and a strong alternative to fossil fuel usage.
Environmental Wood Supply, works with cities, counties, private land owners, and businesses who need help dealing with storm-damaged or compromised trees, in addition to waste stream challenges from tree trimming, residential waste, habitat restoration, and other processing that leaves behind a low-grade wood by-product. Since 2008 Environmental Wood Supply has helped to curb the spread of Emerald Ash Borer by working with wood haulers that follow guidelines for species containment. Biomass processing provides an efficient means for managing these wood waste streams, with the additional benefit of converting it to a renewable energy resource. In areas without this alternative, these wood residues can often be open-burned, causing local air quality issues and missing the opportunity to convert this to usable energy. Biomass plays an important part of maintaining District Energy St. Paul’s cost competitiveness, resilience to volatile fuel markets, low carbon profile, and ability to leverage the high-efficiency energy capture of CHP.
Ever-Green Energy’s Role: Ever-Green developed Environmental Wood Supply alongside St. Paul Cogeneration to increase the fuel efficiency and effectiveness of the District Energy St. Paul heating system and to provide an environmentally sound energy source to the local electric provider as well as the heating customers. Ever-Green is the co-owner with DTE Energy Resources through its subsidiary DTE St. Paul, LLC as well as the operations, maintenance, and management team.
- 2003 system startup
Technologies implemented: biomass, combined heat and power