Wood Energy Working Group Recommendations

High Efficient Low Emission GARN hydronic wood-fired heater being tested at Tanana. Twin units
will heat the 5,000 sq. ft. washeteria and provide domestic hot water for showers and washing machines.
They will also add heat to the community water loop to help deter freeze-ups during winter months.


The Working Group agreed that the need for small to medium-sized biomass projects for space heat is critical to help combat the high cost of energy in rural Alaskan communities. They also recommended ongoing research to find suitable biomass technologies for generating power while simultaneously providing space heating in smaller communities.

The Working Group is aware of the impending Alaska Energy Authority RFP process for Renewable Energy Projects and is encouraging communities that have biomass resources readily available to apply. The consensus is that most applications will be submitted for small to medium space heating projects and district heat loops.

The group is interested in seeing wood pellet manufacturing take place in Alaska. Several firms from outside with years of pellet production experience are looking at developing projects in Alaska, partnering with entities with resources and funding capabilities. The consensus is that wood pellets are desirable because they burn cleanly, and that the appliances and boilers that use them are a proven commodity. Wood pellets are easy to transport and store, and they are the closest fuel to liquid or natural gas that can be easily manufactured in Alaska.

The group also recommends wide promotion of EPA-certified wood stoves to insure efficient wood resource utilization. They also recommend promoting only High Efficiency, Low Emission (HELE) Hydronic Wood-Fired Heaters for larger projects that meet minimum standards for overall efficiency (combustion efficiency x heat transfer efficiency) and EPA particulate standards for emissions.


Biomass CHP systems are in the early stages of development and demonstration. They require more development to perform reliably. Existing systems do not show any savings over systems powered by oil and gas at today’s oil and gas prices.

Facilities to manufacture densified biomass fuel (pellets, bricks, and logs) will develop in tandem with deployment of systems for delivery and use of densified fuel.

Biomass for space heating to help reduce the high cost of energy in rural Alaska has a high probability of success. The following are requirements for successful projects:

  • Projects must be economically viable
  • Must be technologically feasible
  • Must be supported and endorsed by owner/operators, the local community, fuel suppliers, and state and local governing bodies
  • Must have a local champion
  • Must have long term reliable and sustainable fuel sources

Several biomass heating systems are currently in operation as successful examples.


Ron Brown, Dan Parrent, Brian Templin, Thom Sacco, Scott Newlin, Karen Peterson, Peter Crimp, Roger Taylor, Dave Nichols, Alfred Demientieff, Ray Scandura, Willie Salmon, Heidi Veach, Dick Lafever, Cal Kerr, Paul McIntosh, Bob Gorman, Kimberly Carlo, Bill Wall, Dave Fredrick, Ryan Colgan, Dave Misiuk, Gary Mullen, Wil Putnam, Cassie Pinkel, Leonard Dubber, and Jeff Hermans

Beaver Washeteria - Public buildings such as washeterias afford opportunties for energy projects, particularly space heating from biomass or waste heat recovery from diesel engines. The community of Tanana, for example, installed two cordwood boilers in 2007 to heat their washeteria.
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