Minnesota community plans district heating

By Staff | November 03, 2014

A proposed biomass-fueled district heating project in Grand Marais, Minnesota, is one step closer to reality with the recent publication of a Step II study. The project, currently spearheaded by the Cook County Local Energy Project, grew out of an initiative led by the county Firewise Group to educate homeowners on the benefits of clearing brush from around their homes.

The community now generates a large volume of slash and began looking for productive ways to utilize that biomass, along with slash generated by the local forestry industry. An initial Step I study demonstrated the feasibility of using that material in a district heating plant, while the Step II study includes the development of a schematic design and full business plan.

The proposed system would feature a 6.8 million-Btu-per-hour biomass boiler. Proposed customers include the local hospital and schools, along with several hotels, government buildings, and other community facilities. Construction could begin as soon as 2016 if state bonding is secured during the next bonding cycle.