Promoting Adoption of Biomass Fuels for Heating Vegetable Greenhouses in Vermont

Chris Callahan, The University of Vermont
Vernon P. Grubinger, The University of Vermont


This project demonstrated the use of biomass heating for greenhouse vegetable production at sites across Vermont. From 2008 through 2015, 25 growers received cost-share funds for greenhouse biomass heating systems. The total installed cost of these systems was $312,766; the average cost per system was $12,511 and the average cost-share (i.e. sponsor funding) on these projects was 44% of the total cost. The growers installed a variety of system types depending on desired fuel, heating load and method of heat distribution (hot air or hot water). The project started in 2008 and the systems have operated for the equivalent of 96 growing seasons in total with an average of 3.8 growing seasons per system, an average net fuel savings of $2,696 per system per year, and an average payback of 4.8 years (at full cost). From 2008 through 2015 a total of 15.3 trillion BTU of biomass energy was provided to these greenhouses, equivalent to 167,000 gallons of propane. The cumulative equivalent carbon dioxide emissions avoided by this substitution of fuel is estimated to be 2.14 million pounds. This is roughly equivalent to the annual emissions from 204 cars, or 2.3 million miles of car travel.


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