A variety of tools and websites have been developed to help figure out if using wood for energy makes sense.  Virginia Cooperative Extension has mapped the availability of fuels and the locations of fuel oil and propane boilers across the Commonwealth.  On this page you will find links to these and other tools that can be used to compare fuel prices, explore the benefits of fuel switching, and evaluate your facility for potential cost savings.

Bioenergy Heat and Power Feasibility Tool

Bioenergy Feasibility Tool ScreenshotAn Excel-based screening tool developed for a 2010 Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission project to identify potential bioenergy locations in Southside and Southwest Virginia.  The tool takes the annual energy usage and expenditures of a facility and estimates fuel cost savings from fuel switching.  The spreadsheet then lets the user estimate the simple payback period and projected Internal Rate of Return (IRR) based on selected financing options.

Wood Energy Financial App

The Wood Energy Financial App is an easy to use, dashboard-style, on-line application.  After entering information on your energy costs, capital costs, and cash flow the app provides the estimated annual fuel costs savings, expected total capital costs and payback period.  The app will also generate clear and concise reports to assist with project guidance, scoping and pre-feasibility assessment.  The app is a companion tool to the recently released Community Biomass Handbook Volume 1: Thermal Wood Energy developed by the University of Minnesota and the U.S. Forest Service.

Wood Fueled Boiler Financial Feasibility

Developed by the University of Wisconsin and US Forest Service, the Wood Fueled Boiler Financial Feasibility Excel spreadsheet is designed to perform financial feasibility analysis of steam boiler systems for space heating or process heat.  Users with advanced technical skills can model 20-year cash flow of a wood-fueled system to compare as an alternative to their existing fuel.

Healthcare Energy Impact Calculator

Interested in knowing the health impacts of the energy your facility uses?  The Healthcare Clean Energy Exchange developed this calculator to estimate premature deaths, chronic bronchitis, asthma attacks, emergency room visits and more, by kilowatt hour per year.  The calculator projects the number of incidents, estimates costs of medical treatment and the greater societal costs for consideration into your energy use and energy choice decisions.

Virginia Residual Biomass Inventory

The Virginia Residual Biomass Inventory was conducted by Virginia Cooperative Extension and Virginia Tech to quantify the amount of bioresidues (agricultural crops agricultural manures, forestry, food and municipal wastes) generated annually throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia that could potentially be available for fuel in a bioenergy facility.  The residual inventory presents the estimates of availability for each residual in each county in Virginia. The report from the original residual inventory can be found in the Preliminary Residual Biomass Inventory for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Fuel Value and Power Calculators

The fuel value calculator, published by the US Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory and the Pellet Fuels Institute, is a tool that can be used to compare typical costs of various fuels.  By comparing different fuels based on their energy content, the tool allows you to see what they would cost if you were to pay for them at the price of your current fuel.  For example, $3.44 per gallon for #2 fuel oil is comparable to $2.16 a gallon for propane, $408 per ton of premium wood pellets or $172 per ton of green wood chips.