New boiler will bloster school

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JACK.CONROY@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

A new $1.3million boiler at The Catlins Area School could save hundreds of thousands of dollars to be put towards educational material for the school’s pupils.

The school currently operates a temporary wood-chip powered boiler, which replaced its less sustainable coal boiler in 2018.

Principal Kate Staniford said a permanent wood-chip boiler could save the school about $500,000 over 20 years, compared with the option of using electric heat pumps.

“That includes replacement, transport and maintenance,” Mrs Staniford said.

“Wood-chip also works out to be about $100,000 cheaper than pellet.”

Those financial savings would directly benefit pupils.

“We can use those savings to spend on educational tools for the children.”

Mrs Staniford said the coal boiler was old and coming to the end of its life.

“But the question was always whether it would be replaced with another coal boiler,” she said.

A Ministry of Education-commissioned report recommended the most environmentally friendly heating method would be a wood-chip boiler.

Mrs Staniford said she was pleased the school would have a boiler that would work consistently.

“The temporary one has been good, but prior to that we had would have days where the school was very cold in the morning.

“To have a working system on a continuous basis would be fantastic.”

Additionally, the temporary replacement boiler was not pleasant to look at.

“It’s not the best look having a large shipping container sitting in the car-park like that.”

The new build would be much larger, allowing more wood-chips to be held in the hopper.

“Right now the wood-chip deliveries are frequent.

“I don’t know the exact size but the new hopper is enormous, so not as much gas would be used delivering the wood-chips with fewer journeys needed.”

The school was ambitious about reducing its carbon footprint.

It was not yet clear how long it would take for work to begin on the new boiler, but Mrs Staniford was confident it would not be long.

“These things tend to move quickly once the money has been committed,” she said.

The Catlins Area School is among eight schools nationwide to receive funding from the Government’s $4.8million infrastructure programme.

Ministry of Education records show 71 Otago and Southland schools still have active or usable coal boilers.