District energy, though widely institutionalized in Europe particularly in the Nordic countries is largely underutilized in the U.S. Currently, our country’s overall decentralized approach to building system management and property development offers insufficient infrastructure to readily capitalize on the benefits of this mature energy savings strategy. With an increasing emphasis on energy efficiency, air quality and resource conservation; however, district energy applications are becoming more widely considered among the building infrastructure communities as an effective means of energy conservation. Pairing the district energy model with a biomass fueled central plant further improves the utility of this concept.
The energy savings outgrowths of a district heating approach are further extended when biomass fuel is used to produce thermal energy. In these situations, the cost of fuel is typically less than and in some situations a negative cost compared to that of traditionally used fossil fuels. As a rule, district heating plants offer reduced emissions since they have more advanced pollution control equipment than individual boilers. Low emission profiles from the use of an AESI biomass boiler further enhances the emissions platform of a biomass-fired district heating plant. Additionally, the central plant configuration also enables improved fuel management processes as the biomass fuel is delivered, stored and consumed in one central location.
AESI’s biomass energy solutions align well with the components of an effective district heating system – delivering thermal media from a central system through a distribution network to the points of consumption. Following consumption the supply water returns to the district heating plant, is reheated and recirculated in a closed pipeline loop, starting the thermal energy process over again.
Although AESI can support both steam and hot water district heating projects, our model places an emphasis on hot water distribution rather than steam. In simple terms, hot water is more easily managed, controlled and delivered to support space heating and domestic hot water needs compared to that of steam. Additionally, steam incurs higher heat losses than water and requires more stringent boiler code and attendant requirements. To avoid these constraints, it is a good practice evaluate thermal delivery via hot water compared to that of steam. In most cases, the provision of hot water through a series of heat exchangers can be sufficient to provide adequate and continuous space heating and domestic hot water supply.
AESI’s district energy solutions offer many system wide benefits
District energy is our future and AESI offers the solutions today. Contact us to learn more about our equipment, solutions and strategies for developing a district energy solution to meet your energy needs.