Tuesday, October 15, 2013

West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund Helps Support the Wood Stove Decathlon

The Alliance for Green Heat and the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund (WPPSEF) are working together on the Wood Stove Decathlon to help make affordable wood stoves cleaner and more efficient. Wood heat is a vital source of renewable energy for homes across the state of Pennsylvania and throughout the mid-Atlantic region but technology advances are needed.

The Wood Stove Decathlon, modeled after the Solar Decathlon, is a technology competition to see which team can best design and build affordable solutions to making wood stoves less prone to operator error.  Even today’s EPA certified stoves perform poorly when loaded with unseasoned wood and not given enough air, which results in excessive air pollution.

The Wood Stove Decathlon was partially inspired by the legacy of Ben Franklin, who in 1744 launched what has become known as the “Franklin stove” – considered by many to be the forerunner of American-designed efficient stoves.  In 1826, the Franklin Institute sponsored a contest with a $100 purse for the best cookstove design of the year, during a time when the price of wood was skyrocketing due to deforestation.  There have not been any other stove competitions until now, when the motivation for a technology challenge has more to do with the necessity of reducing fossil fuel use and improving air quality.

 At the Decathlon, there will be a series of educational panels on innovation in wood heat technology.  Joel Morrison, Director of WPPSEF will be speaking on a panel Tuesday morning, Nov. 19.  Mr. Morrison said, “WPPSEF is delighted to support the Wood Stove Decathlon which will drive innovation and lead to cleaner, more efficient stove designs.”

Between 2000 and 2010, wood heat grew 65% in Pennsylvania, nearly double the national average and nearly three times faster than any other heating fuel.  As of 2012, 145,000 or 2.9% of Pennsylvania residents heated primarily with wood or pellets and more than half a million use it for secondary heating.

The Wood Stove Decathlon is being held on the National Mall in Washington, DC from Nov. 15 – 19.  Partners include WPPSEF, Popular Mechanics, USDA, DOE’s Brookhaven National Lab and state agencies in New York, Washington, Oregon and the District of Columbia. For more info: http://www.forgreenheat.org/stovedesign.html.

The Alliance for Green Heat, the organizer of the Wood Stove Decathlon, is a non-profit organization promoting cleaner and more efficient wood heating. Visit http://www.forgreenheat.org for more information.

The West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund invests in the deployment of clean energy technologies throughout the West Penn Power service region. Investments are made to promote: the use of renewable and clean energy, energy conservation and energy efficiency, and the attraction, establishment and retention of sustainable energy businesses. Visit www.wppsef.org for more information.  

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