University of Georgia Physical Plant

From Global Energy Monitor

The University of Georgia Physical Plant includes a coal-fired steam boiler. As of 2009 the University is working with its Biorefining and Carbon Cycling Program and Faculty of Engineering Outreach Service to determine the best long-term alternative to replace the steam production provided by the coal-fired boiler, including potential deployment of new technologies. However, neither the funding source nor a timetable for project development has been identified at this time. Until then the University announced plants to modify the operation of its steam plant over the summer by shutting down its coal-fired steam boiler from May 1 to Sept. 30.[1]

Possible Conversion to Biomass

In March 2010 school director Ken Crowe stated that biomass may be in the coal plant's future. "There is a lot of discussion about what we will do with the coal plant over the next 10 years,” Crowe said. “We have had at least one major study that basically asked the question, if we were going to replace it with something that was a more renewable fuel source, what are the most likely alternatives? “I’m totally supportive of moving toward a wood-based fuel if it can be proven to be a reliable source of fuel, a cost-effective source of fuel, and if it can integrate reasonably into our existing system here."[2]

In April, 2011, UGA announced it would shut down the university's 45-year-old coal-fired steam boiler, but have not yet found a suitable replacement. The boiler is one of four the university uses to produce steam for heating, cooking, lab sterilization and even cooling across campus. The other three boilers are newer and fired mainly by natural gas, which pollutes much less than coal, said Kenneth Crowe, UGA director of energy services. Crowe conducted tours of the boilers at UGA's steam plant as part of the university's Earth Week observance.[3]



  1. Kathy Pharr,"UGA’s change in summer steam plant operations saves money and helps environment" University of Georgia Public Affairs News Bureau, May 21, 2009
  2. "Coal may not be in future for University:Renewable fuel source essential" Michael Prochaska,, March 28, 2010.
  3. Lee Shearer, "Less fired up about coal, UGA seeking alternative", OnlineAthens: Athens Banner Herald, April 22, 2011.

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