Dartmouth College Will Invest $200 Million to Switch to Biomass Heat

25 Jan

Dartmouth College, known as the Big Green, has a new way to live up to its nickname.

In January Dartmouth announced plans to build a new $200 million biomass-fueled central heating system to replace an oil fired heating plant and steam system saving millions of gallons of fuel oil now required to heat more than 110 buildings on its campus annually and substantially reducing the school’s environmental impact.

The 6,500 student Ivy League college in Hanover, New Hampshire is seeking proposals for a private company to build the biomass heating plant and hot water transmission system to switch the campus to sustainable renewable energy. The new heating system is projected to increase heating efficiency by 20 percent while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent.  The college is beginning the process of reviewing design proposals and applying for permits for the new heating system which it expects to be operational in 2025. 

According to a Dartmouth press release, the biomass energy project will be financed, built and operated by a private company in partnership with the college, so the college can focus its resources on its core educational mission.  Dartmouth plans to contract with a private company to build and operate the project for 30 years.  Wood to fuel the new facility will be obtained from sustainably harvested waste wood from forestry and lumber operations in the region.

The new plant will be equipped to also burn liquid biofuels when the wood biomass system might not be able to meet all the college’s energy needs in subzero conditions.  Switching to woody biomass and liquid biofuels will let Dartmouth stop burning 3.5 million gallons of Number 6 fuel oil each year.  Dartmouth has already reduced its fuel usage by 1.5 million gallons of oil per year since 2010 through energy efficiency projects on the campus, particularly in air conditioning.

College officials said that the biomass project will allow Dartmouth to substantially exceed its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2025 and provide a 30 year bridge to allow solar, wind or geothermal technologies to develop sufficiently to provide the energy and reliability the College requires at an affordable cost.

For more information about the new project, see https://news.dartmouth.edu/news/2019/01/new-biomass-plant-will-increase-dartmouths-sustainability

For information about Dartmouth’s Sustainability program, see www.sustainability.dartmouth.edu/energy