Biomass Heating System, Tralee Ireland

Willie Moynihan

YEAR: 2008
4 years
TYPE OF SYSTEM: Biomass Heating System
DIMENSIONS: 50’x 60′
CLIMATE: Temperate Oceanic
Wood chip
SCALE: Neighborhood 
1 MW/yr (Phase 1)
AREA SERVED: 10 Ha Block (24 Acres)
UNITS SERVED: 100 housing units, school, day care + library

Case Study Background:

Kerry County Council a multi-agency in partnership with core community involvement proposed to establish an Energy Efficient Self-Sustaining Region for Tralee, through a twin track program beginning with energy conservation of both commercial and domestic premises followed by the development of biomass energy centers meeting identified demand, using locally produced biomass.

Tralee was selected as a neighborhood in decline due to the disinvestment of the manufacturing sector. Businesses moved out of the neighborhood due to poor competitiveness and high energy costs. Kerry County Council and Tralee Town Council formed a strategy to establish Tralee as an energy efficient self-sustaining regiontransforming the local economy through job creation and achieving a high standard of living. A biomass district heating system was a key strategy in achieving their goals.

Tralee Town Council is the administrative centre for Tralee (with a population of almost 23,000), the capital town of KerryCounty
and Ireland’s 7th largest town. It is a bustling commercial, tourism and educational centre, the seat of local government, and a regional transport hub.

Source: LINK

Location of Tralee, Ireland:


Tobar Naofa
A brown field site with high density housing, within walking distance of Tralee town centre
Area: 2.5 acres, this is the site of Phase 1.

Energy Systems Case Study_Nick and Abhishek10

System Description:
The biomass heating system is a centralized production of heat and the distribution of that heat through a network of insulated pipes.
The system is fueled by locally grown and harvested wood fueled. The network to each apartment block providing temperature controlled space heating and instant hot water on demand at low cost.
The initial development had the installation of
1 MW wood chip fueled district heating system with heat pipes connected to each apartment providing controlled space heating and meeting all the hot water needs at a low cost. Completed at the end of 2011 the district heating system comprises of 2500Kw Hertz wood chip boilers each with an auger feed system from the fuel store. The boilers operate on a duty/assist control and are linked to 25,000 liters thermal store buffer tanks. They are all housed in the central plant room.
Source: LINK

Diagram of Biomass System:
Energy Systems Case Study_Nick and Abhishek
Image: LINK

Plan View: Plant Room + Wood chip Boiler
Energy Systems Case Study_Nick and Abhishek
Two 500 kW Hertz Wood Chip Boilers each with an auger feed system from the fuel store.
The boilers which operate on duty/assist control are linked to two 5,000 liters thermal store buffer tanks.
Distribution header with separate branch, pump and district heat pipe for each block of apartments and spare connections for future demand.

Section View: Plant Room + Conveyor+ Wood chip Storage
Energy Systems Case Study_Nick and Abhishek
The Wood Chip is unloaded into the underground conveyor.
The Chip is then transferred into the 80m³ Fuel Store.

Energy Systems Case Study_Nick and Abhishek2 Energy Systems Case Study_Nick and Abhishek3 Energy Systems Case Study_Nick and Abhishek4
Image: Source

District Heating System:
District Heat Pipe Network to each apartment block providing temperature controlled Space Heating and instant Hot Water on demand at low cost. Supplying water at 80 Degree Celsius throughout the development.

Pipeline of the Heating System:
pipe pipe2
Image: Source

Current Biomass Heating Distribution Network:
Energy Systems Case Study_Nick and Abhishek5

District Distribution Substation:
Heat exchanger for instant hot water with anti-scald control.

Under floor heating manifolds with circulating pump and temperature limiting control.

Time clock to control space heating times.

Heat Meter measuring Kilowatt Hours.

Pre-Payment Card System linked to an isolating valve.

Heat Distribution Substation:
Image: Source

Under Floor Heating:
Energy efficient uniform heating throughout the apartment.
Under floor network designed to operate at low temperature 35ºC.
Heat thermostatically controlled in each unit.
Heat store is built up gradually -no peak demands on Boiler Plant

Energy Systems Case Study_Nick and Abhishek6
Image: Source

Heat Meter:
The kWh heat output from the Boiler Plant is recorded on the Heat Meter.
The Wood Chip Supplier records the reading at each delivery for billing purposes.
The Supplier bills the Council on kWh of heat produced.
North Kerry Wood Chip, Knocknagashel, is the present fuel supplier.

Energy Systems Case Study_Nick and Abhishek7
Image: Source

Fuel Supply:
Annual Demand
115 ton Wood Chip

< 25% moisture content

346 MW/hr Produced (with the Two 500 kW Hertz Wood Chip Boilers )

3.01 MW/hr per ton

8,230 kWh per Apartment

€291.00 per Annum

mage: Source

Wood Chip Biomass Resource:
55,000 ha of forest plantation in Kerry (11.6% of County area). Wood Grown comes from the county and is shipped in.

35,500 ha (65%) is in private ownership

1400 local farm families involved

Average holding 9 ha

10%of National Plantation Target being achieved in Kerry.


Image: Source

Thinning will give 25%more income to farmers.*

50,000 meter cube of wood chip per annum is available.*

Could generate 26,000 MWh of heat and 6,000 MWh of electricity with Biomass Combined Heat and Power.*

Displace over 3.5 million liters of oil which costs over €2.8 million.*

If oil is used as a fuel 80% of the money generated goes out of the Country, while with wood-chip 90% of the money generated stays in the County.* 

Re-use of a brown field site, job opportunities, and reduction in energy demand of residents.

Renewable resource-wood chips fuel the District heating system which is also sourced locally. (At county level)

The Regeneration project is designed to SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland) which has improved their standard of insulation from 2005 by 40%.* Units in the development have special features such as pv solar, rain water harvesting.
Tralee Town Council will save up to 1 ton of carbon based on fuel type used and save over 100,000 Euros a year* in fuel bills.
Additional metered heat will be sold to adjoining school, Library, 11#low carbon homes, existing 12 #units and integrated services building.

Source: LINK*

Pay as you use Pre-Payment System:
Addressing the issue of fuel poverty

Control over their budget

No bulk purchase of fuel required

Energy Awareness Tool.

Hot water and heating on demand

Increased comfort level at reduced cost Pay As You Use (Prepayment) already in use in 200 houses in Tralee and 60 in Killarney

Example of the Pay Pino use for the Pre-Payment System:
Image: Source

Pay as you Save:

Average retrofitting cost per unit will range from €2,000 to €10,000*

Grants and tax relief are available for private houses with the balance being made up through the proposed Pay As You Save Scheme

This will be recouped from the potential savings of €1000 -€1500on energy cost per unit per year, over 3 to 5 years*

Potential savings €1000 -€1500 on heating and hot water cost per unit.*

Average insulation cost per unit is €9,540*

Source: LINK*

Example of Retrofitting Homes:
retrofit retrofit2
Image: Source

Tralee Town Council
Statutory and Non-Statutory Agencies in Tralee
Mitchels Regeneration Steering Group
Community Participation Task Group
Department of the Environment

The Mitchels Regeneration Steering Group + Community Participation Task Group partnership allowed to develop a Framework Plan for the Mitchels/ Boherbee Regeneration area.  Currently, meetings are held every few months with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Govn’t to insure financial support required for implementation of the Regeneration Plan was provided. Also, the Mitchels Regeneration Steering Group and Community Participation Task Group have yearly meetings.

The Green Paper “Towards a Sustainable Energy Future for Ireland” was released in 2006, which identified the essentials of the way forward as regards development of renewables and energy efficiency.*

SEAI ( Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland) House of Tomorrow Program, which has substantially improved the insulation standards of low-income homes.

SEAI  Renewable Heat Deployment Program*

Re-Heat Program*
( It is through the Re-Heat Program that the Project received a grant of 81,000 Euros)
Source: LINK


The biomass system has worked as expected and is currently in phase 2 of implementation. The future proposal of phase 2 will include:

Potential Size 20 MW Biomass Installation
5 MW Electrical & 15 MW Thermal*
2,000 houses
Kerry General Hospital / Health Board head office
Dairy processing unit
County Buildings / Clash Industrial Estate
Hotels / Sports Complex / Aqua dome
Primary & Secondary Schools, ITT South Campus
Approximate 15,000 Biomass Tonnes Per Year (50,000 available)*
Approximate Biomass Flue Cost €1.2 -€1.4 million per year*
Potential Electrical Income €1,200,000.00*
Potential Thermal Income €3,000,000.00*
Approximate 14,000 tonnes CO2 Saving*

*Source: LINK

Future Biomass Generator:
Furture Biomass
Image: Source

Future Expansion Map:
Energy Systems Case Study_Nick and Abhishek8
Future system

Image: Souce

If you would like to check out more follow the link to our presentation. Energy Systems Case Study_Nick and Abhishek

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