Washdyke Energy Centre eliminates coal, transitions to 100% sustainable biomass.

08 June 2023

The Washdyke Energy Centre in the Timaru Heavy Industrial Park is now firing on 100% biomass. The Pioneer Energy owned asset was commissioned at the beginning of April, marking a new sustainable era for the asset and its customers. This results in a reduction of 14,000 tonnes of CO2e being emitted into the atmosphere – the equivalent of 3,115 petrol cars being taken off the road for an entire year.

The project was funded by Pioneer and the GIDI fund with full support from customers to have their energy needs in the future supplied by biomass.

The Washdyke Energy Centre has two boilers totalling 21MW which supplies steam to three key clients via steam delivery pipelines: DB Breweries, Tasman Tanning and Juice Products.

The centralised Energy Centre model has been designed to give customers reliable steam supply while eliminating the need for them to operate and maintain on site assets and enabled Pioneer to provide tailored pathways to sustainability.

“Customers are at the heart of what we do.” says Fraser Jonker, CEO of Pioneer Energy. “We have built our ISO 55001 accredited asset management system around not just our physical sites but to also include assets like our people and customers, commonly overlooked as assets.”

The commissioning of the second boiler marks a milestone in Pioneer Energy’s journey to sustainability. The company has committed to eliminating coal as a primary fuel from all sites by April 2024. To achieve this target, a resilient biomass supply chain was required. This led to the partnership with Niagara Saw Milling Ltd, forming Wood Energy New Zealand (WENZ).

Nigel Ellett, the Managing Director of WENZ says, “Wood Energy has built a robust supply chain to ensure we are able to meet our customers energy demands throughout the year. Our supply chain has been tested in adverse weather conditions and we always delivered fuel to our customers. This strength is vital as more companies move away from fossil fuels.”

As well as supplying the Washdyke Energy Centre and other sites around the South Island, the WENZ partnership has been developing new strategies for the continued sustainable harvesting of timber. Most recently, the company began harvesting material from wilding pine forests in the McKenzie Country. This initiative has dual benefits in that it increases the supply potential while positively impacting the environment through the control of this incredible invasive pest species.

Biomass trials and development continue at other Pioneer Energy sites as the effort to decarbonise New Zealand’s energy continues. Jonker notes that “Pioneer Energy is committed to creating a better future through sustainable energy. Through our direct actions, our partnerships and through redirecting our profits back into our communities.”