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   9/2009 Forests and Energy,
    Missoula, MT

   12/2008 Wood to Energy,
    Helena, MT

   10/2007 Making Wood
    Work, Missoula, MT

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Project Feasibility (top of page)


Project Feasibility

Elements of a Good Project

Feasibility Assessments



Project Feasibility


Biomass is a versatile energy option that can work in various scales and in a variety of applications including heating, cooling, and electricity generation—alone or in combination.


Systems are available at all scales, including:

·         Small, manual-fed cordwood furnaces

·         Commercial pellet-fired boilers starting at 100,000 BTUs/hr

·         Automated wood chip systems starting at 1 million BTUs/hr

·         Industrial combined heat and power (CHP)


Integration of biomass boiler systems within the Fuels for Schools and Beyond program range from a 600,000 BTU/hr pellet system at Townsend Schools, Montana to a 12 million BTU/hr wood-chip fired system University of Montana-Western, Dillon, Montana. 


Elements of a Good Project back to top


There are a few things that can make a facility well suited for biomass energy:

  1. High heat demand and high fossil fuel costs. Generally, if a facility is not using at least 2,500 dekatherms/year of natural gas or spending at least $35,000 annually on heating fuel (natural gas, propane, fuel oil) they won’t be likely candidates for conversion.  However, there are exceptions if installing very small furnace systems.  
  2. Proximity to a wood fuel source can be important in that generally, the closer the supply, the cheaper the fuel.  A haul distance from a forest source of 30-50 air miles (est. 50-80 road miles) can generally keep costs of wood fuel reasonable. Other biomass fuel sources can include wood pellets, sawmill residues and municipal wood waste such as clean demolition waste and urban trees which may be nearby. 
  3. Space available for the biomass burner, fuel storage, and access for delivery trucks.
  4. It’s more cost-effective to install a biomass boiler system in the new construction of a facility compared to integrating it into an existing system.
  5. A simple payback on investment within 10 years is desirable.
  6. Enthusiasm  of the facility staff and community



Feasibility Assessments back to top


Your state program may offer funding or assistance for biomass energy feasibility assessments.

Contact your State Program Coordinator

Wood-Fueled Boiler Financial Feasibility Analysis

An interactive spreadsheet program that allows facilities or consultants to input facility specific data into the spreadsheet and receive an output of a preliminary feasibility assessment.  Developed by Bob Govett at the U of Wisconsin-Steven’s Point.

View and download the User’s Manual  and Interactive Spreadsheet


Wood-Chip Heating Systems Guide Tim Maker, Biomass Energy Resource Center (BERC)


Wood Pellet Heating Guide Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources


Where Wood Works Flexible Energy Communities Initiative




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