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Seattle Steam Building Biomass Facility

The Seattle Steam Co. announced that it will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for its new renewable energy storage facility next week. The groundbreaking will mark the official start of construction on a facility that will help introduce “urban waste wood” (biomass) into Seattle Steam’s fuel mix.

The biomass will be used to help produce steam for the company’s district heating system, which serves 175 customers and has been a thermal energy provider to downtown Seattle since 1893. The new renewable energy storage facility will be located directly across the street from a new biomass boiler facility, which is already under construction next to the company’s existing Western Avenue Plant.

Trucks will deliver waste wood to the renewable energy facility, where the biomass will be stored in a special silo. The biomass then will be transferred from the silo through an existing tunnel underneath Western Ave. and used to fuel the new boiler. The entire project is scheduled for completion in summer 2009. University Mechanical Contractors Inc. is serving as the general contractor.

“It is in a unique position locally to take the lead in this global effort to reduce carbon and to serve as the energy manager for customers, who gain advantages not normally experienced by buildings that operate their own on-site boilers. Generally, a building with its own on-site boiler does not have the same fuel flexibility that a district heating system can offer,” said Stan Gent, president of Seattle Steam. “An individual building isn’t likely to be able to use biomass and obtain the associated carbon reduction credits on its own. In addition, all of the steam delivered to a district-heated building is 100 percent efficient. Every pound of steam can be put to use for space heating, domestic hot water heating or process use. No efficiency rate needs to be factored in.”

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