An economic and environmental benefit analysis have been performed using data from the field monitoring of a 25-kW wood pellet boiler heating system with thermal energy storage (TES) tanks installed in a home using a low temperature heat distribution system and radiant heat emitters in northern New York State (NYS). Pellet fuel demand was a linear function of daily average ambient temperature. It was used to predict total seasonal fuel and heat demand from the beginning of October to the end of April. A cost of heat (COH) analysis was performed considering all costs associated with the system including capital cost, operation, maintenance, other costs, and final system disposal (or salvation) cost. Sensitivity analysis showed that initial capital cost, wood pellet fuel price, and boiler heating system seasonal efficiency were the top three key factors determining the final COH with seasonal efficiency becomes more significant when pellet price increases. A life cycle annualized cost method was used to determine and compare the costs of heat using natural gas, No. 2 fuel oil, and propane. The study found that at the current seasonal efficiency of 75.8% (based on gross heating value), pellet fuel price of 240 $/ton, and maximum government incentives of $10,000, wood pellet boiler heating is able to replace intermediate efficiency (83%) propane heating systems in NYS at current fuel price of 2.48 $/gal. With a 3.6% fuel price increase to 2.57 $/gal, wood pellet heating is comparable with high efficiency (95%) propane heating systems. In addition, a heating oil price above 3.22 $/gal would make it economically possible to switch from oil heating to wood pellet heating in NYS. It was found that major emissions reductions can be achieved by switching from inefficient wood heating technology to wood pellet heating in terms of reductions in CO2, particulate matter (PM), and CO emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions reductions are also achieved when switching from fossil fuels to wood pellets, but PM and CO emissions increased significantly.
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