QUEEN Elizabeth II High School has become the first school on the island to install an eco-friendly woodchip boiler.
The school is also the first customer of the St John’s Sawmill woodchip tanker, which delivers the woodchip directly into the fuel store, with each delivery of just over five tonnes heating the school for almost a week.
The boiler, commissioned on December 3, is expected to last between 20 and 25 years and it cost around £130,000, which was funded by the Isle of Man Government’s Energy Initiatives Capital Fund.
Education and Children’s Minister Tim Crookall MHK attended the school to see the boiler in operation. He said: ‘We will have a look at the performance over a trial period and if the figures stack up, then look at bringing it into other schools.
‘Queen Elizabeth II High School has really led the way with its ecological initiatives and this is just the latest.
‘In the current times, we need to do all we can, not only to save money but to look after our precious environment, and I am pleased the school has become the first in the island to use this local fuel resource to provide heating,’ he added.
All the woodchip to heat the school comes from the conifer plantations managed by the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA). The department’s conifer plantations cover 5 per cent of the island.
DEFA Minister Phil Gawne MHK, who also visited the school last week, said: ‘I think this is a fantastic example of local sourcing, the nearest plantation is less than five miles away and the sawmill is less than two miles, far better than having to import oil or gas from less direct, less secure, external sources.’
Energy initiatives officer at DEFA, Peter Longworth, said that the delivered price of the fuel grade woodchip to QEII worked out at less than 4 pence per unit, which was significantly less than oil or gas.
The school will also use the boiler technology in lessons and as part of the school’s eco-committee improvement plans.
Other local sites with biomass boilers are the DEFA headquarters at St John’s, Reayrt Y Chrink in Port Erin and Clagh Vane in Ballasalla.