- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 17, 2017

URBANA, Ill. (AP) - The greenhouse at the University of Illinois Energy Farm soon will receive environmentally friendly heat during the winter months.

A new biomass boiler from Germany will replace the greenhouse’s propane gas, release fewer carbon-dioxide emissions and use perennial grasses grown on the university’s energy farm to produce heat, The News Gazette (https://bit.ly/2j5SSAx ) reported.

The project is a test system that could possibly power other parts of campus or east-central Illinois farms in the future. It forms part of the university’s Climate Action Plan to reach “carbon neutrality” no later than 2050.

“This is going to be a model for us, to kind of get our feet wet, to learn how this thing works, to learn the benefits and some of the challenges of using biomass,” said Evan DeLucia, plant biology professor and director of the university’s sustainability, energy and environment institute. “I’m optimistic that it’s going to lead to bigger projects around campus.”

The university’s Climate Action Plan is behind various projects to move the campus toward renewable energy, including a solar farm in Champaign.

The project cost about $546,000, including $150,000 for the boiler.

DeLucia said it was funded with a $110,000 grant from the university’s student sustainability committee, $228,000 from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and $17,000 from the Dudley Smith Initiative. The campus contributed $200,000, including money from reduced propane gas use and the sale of “carbon credits,” a financial instrument used to tally the amount of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere.

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Information from: The News-Gazette, https://www.news-gazette.com


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