Government funds ‘trail blazing’ heating network for Invercargill CBD


Great South business and strategic projects general manager Steve Canny says a renewable heating system for the invercargill CBD is a first for New Zealand. The H&J Smith and Kelvin Hotel buildings, pictured, will be using the new system.

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Great South business and strategic projects general manager Steve Canny says a renewable heating system for the invercargill CBD is a first for New Zealand. The H&J Smith and Kelvin Hotel buildings, pictured, will be using the new system.

Great South has hailed a ‘’trail blazing’’ programme in which the Government has agreed to fund a multi-million-dollar renewable heating network for central Invercargill which will benefit businesses, the environment and create jobs.

The project, called the Invercargill renewable district heating system, will see a single high-tech wood-fuelled boiler in Esk St replace a swag of old fossil fuel boilers in buildings around the Invercargill CBD.

Great South business and strategic projects general manager Steve Canny said it was a trail blazing project, a first for New Zealand and a unique selling point for the city.

‘’This is really creating quite a paradigm shift in terms of heating and low carbon emissions.’’

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Since 2014 Great South had been encouraging businesses to protect themselves against the cost of carbon emissions which were generated from the likes of coal-fuelled boilers, he said.

The new district heating system, using one wood-fuelled burner to heat a number of CBD buildings, would avoid those carbon costs, Canny said.

Buildings to benefit from the new heating system would include the Invercargill City Council headquarters, Civic Theatre, H&J Smith department store, SBS, Kelvin Hotel, the soon to be built HW Richardson buildings and the new ILT Hotel.

Great South did the feasibility work for the CBD heating system, with funding from the Invercargill Licensing Trust and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, and the application for funding was made to the Government.

Also as part of the Government’s $14.6m investment, coal-fuelled boilers at Invercargill Prison and the Southern Institute of Technology would be replaced by new wood-fuelled boilers.

The $14.6m cost of the overall project would come from the Government’s infrastructure fund, as part of its Covid-19 stimulus package, with the project to be delivered by Great South.

A spokesman for Climate Change Minister James Shaw said: ‘’At the moment all these six big buildings in the CBD have their own boilers burning coal or diesel or gas, and a lot of that kit is quite old and not very efficient.

‘’So they will connect all those systems to a single large wood-fuelled boiler [in the Esk St area] and heat the water to 90 degrees and run pipes to the six CBD buildings.’’

Shaw said the funding for the project was agreed on after Great South asked for the support.

‘’They put the proposal to us and it stacked up on the evidence, it went through fairly rigorous analysis, it met the bar, so we are putting the money in.’’

Climate Change Minsiter James Shaw.

Robert Kitchin/Stuff

Climate Change Minsiter James Shaw.

The replacement of the fossil fuel boilers would improve air quality in Invercargill and it would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 6000 tonnes a year, ‘’the equivalent of 1300 cars,’’ Shaw said.

‘’It also develops a local industry for bio mass, formerly known as wood, to support the boilers and it will help other business swap away from fossil fuels because they will trust there’s a supply chain [of wood to burn] available to them.’’

The budget for the works would be spread across a number of local providers and sub-contractors, providing around 30 jobs directly and a further 10 to 20 locally employed trades and other staff.

The project would also deliver ongoing jobs in maintenance, along with regular forestry sector processing, drying and wood delivery.

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