Berlin wood chip plant’s waste heat will fuel planned greenhouse

$500k NHPUC grant will be used to build thermal energy recovery system

The Burgess BioPower plant in Berlin has been awarded a $500,000 grant by the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission to build a thermal energy recovery system that will be used to heat a hydroponic greenhouse planned nearby.

Under a co-location agreement with the developer and operator of the proposed greenhouse, excess heat created by the wood chip-burning plant will be harnessed for use by the greenhouse operation. This heat is currently emitted into the atmosphere through the facility’s cooling tower. Under the plan, the warm water generated will be piped to the proposed greenhouse to heat the facility, allowing it to grow produce year-round. The proposed greenhouse project will grow baby leafy greens, such as spinach, arugula and kale.

The grant was delivered through the PUC’s Renewable Energy Fund.

“The grant will allow us to attract additional economic development to Berlin,” said Dammon Frecker, executive vice president of Portsmouth-based CS Operations Inc., owner of the plant and a subsidiary of Cate Street Capital. “The city of Berlin is very special to us, and bringing more jobs and tax dollars to the area has been our goal since our arrival in 2008.”

He said the system will make Burgess the only utility-scale biomass plant in New Hampshire that also provides thermal energy to a co-located commercial enterprise.

“The NH PUC grant and continued development of the Burgess BioPower site shows the company’s steadfast commitment to the city of Berlin,” said Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier, Mayor of Berlin. “Burgess BioPower is one of the best things to happen to Berlin in the past 15 years. The company is a shining example of what a great corporate citizen can do for a community. Helping to develop new projects and bring more jobs to town is just one of the most recent examples.”

While the owner of the greenhouse was not named, a project proposed by North Country Growers, American Ag Energy has been in the works for the site since 2017, but it has yet to get off the ground.

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