Gundersen moves full steam ahead toward energy independence goal

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Learn more about Gundersen Health System’s renewable energy projects by attending Envision’s Renewable Energy Project Development seminar in August.

The photo on the left shows Alan Eber, manager of Engineering and Energy Management at Gundersen Health System, standing next to the new 800 horsepower Biomass Boiler that will offset 38% of the health system’s fossil fuel use. The photo gives you an idea of the size of this unit. The photo on the right was taken from a catwalk above the boiler used to access the roof on the boiler house for stack permit testing. The ceiling is 50 feet above the ground which is necessary for clearance of the boiler, multi-cyclone unit, and electrostatic precipitator. 

Healthcare organizations use boilers year-round. The boilers create steam that is used to heat buildings in the winter. The steam is also used in the laundry and kitchen facilities, and to dehumidify the air and sanitize medical equipment. Besides being old and in need of replacement, Gundersen’s boilers used high amounts of fossil fuels, consuming much of the natural gas used to create heat for the buildings on the La Crosse campus. The new biomass boiler will not only save Gundersen $500,000 per year, it will reduce carbon dioxide and coal emissions in the community.

Gundersen’s La Crosse, Wisconsin, medical campus consumes nearly 150,000 Million British Thermal Units (MMBTUs) of heat energy each year. The health system’s energy consumption is comprised of 60% for building and process heat and 40% for electricity needs so this project is the largest single project on Gundersen’s journey toward energy independence. The fuel source is clean, renewable, woody biomass which is abundant in the La Crosse region.

The biomass boiler project was supported in part by a Wisconsin Bioenergy Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Administration.

Gundersen held a ceremony on May 1st for the official power up of the new boiler. Click here to watch the news conference.

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