Document Type

Theses, Masters


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Civil engineering

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) to the Technological University Dublin, November, 2009.


Ireland has three central issues regarding the supply and use of fuel and energy: import dependency; competitiveness; and greenhouse gases emissions. Ireland is ranked as one of the most import dependent states in the EU, with over 90% of its fuel sourced fiom abroad [IAEA, 20051. Combined with rapidly fluctuating oil and gas wsts and uncertainty with future supply, it is essential that Ireland find a more secure and sustainable alternative to fossil hels. Wood chip represents one such alternative energy source since it is locally produced and considered to be carbon-neutral. The main objective of this research is to assess the financial and environmental feasibility of wood chip as a heat source in Irish commercial buildings. The commercial range of boilers, finm 50kW up to 400kW, offers a good range of potential feasible and non-feasible arrangements that will provide important information regarding correct sizing and use. Secondary objectives include optimising production supply chains and heating system wnfigurations as well as commenting on relevant national policies. The swpe of the research covers all aspects of wood chip production and use for wmmercial applications in Ireland. Key methodologies employed include cost versus value techniques to examine supply chain efficiencies; mathematical modelling of energy balances; and net present value models to analyse the financial viability of wood chip heating systems. Results indicate that wood chip is an economically feasible replacement for oil and gas as a heat source in commercial buildings. Drying wood fuel both increases value and minimises supply costs. This increases the net present values of wood chip heating systems as they rewup their high initial capital wsts with the increased savings finm a cheaper fuel. Energy balance models show that installing wood chip boilers at part load offers more savings than boilers at full load, and that economic viability is highly sensitive to changes in fuel prices. Findings suggest that the regulation of wood fuel quality and the introduction carbon taxes will increase wood fuel uptake in the commercial sector.