SCIC ERE 43: from tree to heater

Wood transformation phase: the full procedure is mastered in the “from tree to heater” model offered by ERE 43. (c) ERE 43

Wood transformation phase: the full procedure is mastered in the “from tree to heater” model offered by ERE 43. (c) ERE 43

Published by Yannick Régnier on 02/10/2012

ERE 43 (Renewable Energies and Environment) was created in 2001 as an association to raise awareness as to the necessity of energy transition. 5 years later, the structure has evolved to a SCIC (Collective Interest Cooperative Company) status rendering the federation and involvement of various actors easier (employees, professionals, suppliers, client beneficiaries and local authorities). Areas of intervention: Energy control, renewable energy development of different types of energy, and more particularly the wood energy industry.

ERE 43’s current geographic intervention zone covers the east of the department of Haute Loire. This wooded zone is characterized by a semi-continental climate with disseminated habitat, at an average height of 850m and with significant heating needs. The woodland is very irregular and badly maintained.

The cooperative’s line of though is founded on a very simple observation/conclusion: why should we continue using fossil energy (fuel oil, gas) to heat community or industrial buildings when an abundant and unexploited resource, wood, is accessible on the land?

Between the use of logs by individuals and high capacity wood boilers supplying large networks, it became necessary to find a reliable intermediary solution that could adapt to the local context. This is how the micro wood boiler Modul’R was conceived, built and perfected by the cooperative. The boiler/boilers’ power ranges from 100 KW to 200 KW. Located in the proximity of the buildings that need heating, it is composed of the boiler and the storage silo. It is fueled with low-value shredded wood (tree crown, branches and dry wood from conifer timber). Built on the site, the Modul’R is delivered ready for use. It is easy to transport, recyclable and its implantation is reversible. 

The first elaborations established that for a better, more efficient and profitable service, it was necessary to master the whole process from the gathering of the wood to the heat production, i.e. offering a turnkey service in renewable heat supply. In order to tackle these requirements, the creation of a wood energy space was fundamental as was the development of a versatile vehicle, the Dromad’R , capable of collecting and conveying the wood, ensuring its transformation/ transforming it into pellets and supplying the boilers. This tool was also developed in partnerships with local companies.

Heat sales comply with the following constraints:

  • implantation of the boilers at a maximum distance of 30 km from the wood energy center;
  • the size of the boiler is designed to supply 50% of energy needs. This partial supply is an incentive for intervention within the framework of the thermic improvement of buildings rarely ranking above C or D in our department. Together with its partners, the SCIC can react rapidly and efficiently to study and implement thermic rehabilitation of the structures;
  • progressive pricing of heat.

This company would not have seen the day/ existed without the careful and constructive participation/attention of the town of Mazet Saint-Voy, in which the first wood boilers were tested.

Perspectives

Today, all our logistics are operational. But as for all current installations, it is heavily dependent on public grants. However, ERE 43 hopes that it will quickly acquire sufficient boiler potential to implant this activity durably through full self-funding.

This is an anchor project for the territory. All the principles motivating the founders of the organization are still alive: reducing fossil energy spending, re- developing woodland culture, creating activity and generating local expertise. Through the complete control of this process (from tree to heater), ERE 43 contributes to a repossession of the woodland wealth by the entire territory.