School Coal Boiler Replacements


Te Kura Kaupapa Motuhake o Tāwhiuau, Murupara

  • 99% reduction in carbon emissions
  • Previously emitted 18,249 kg CO2e per year burning coal
  • 212kg CO2e per pupil
  • Equivalent of travelling 82,952 km*
  • Will now emit 163kg CO2e per year to heat the school


Netherton School, Paeroa

  • 99% reduction in carbon emissions
  • Previously emitted 9,810kg CO2e per year burning coal
  • 73kg CO2e per pupil
  • Equivalent of travelling 44,590km* (more than once around the world).
  • Will now emit 110kg CO2e per year to heat the school


Bayswater School, Auckland

  • 99% reduction in carbon emissions
  • Previously emitted 5,724 kg CO2e per year burning diesel
  • 25kg CO2e per pupil
  • Equivalent of travelling 26,018 km*
  • Will now emit 65 kg of CO2


Plus 40% reduction in running costs, replacing diesel with pellets

*in an average, four seater internal combustion engine car

ÖkoFEN pellet boilers replace fossil fuel in four more schools

With almost $55 million from the State Sector Decarbonisation Fund being set aside to replace coal boilers in 90 schools or more, Apricus Eco Hot Water and Heating have been involved in multiple replacements across the country including these four installations.

Reliability & maintenance savings

Often existing boilers are unreliable and parts are no longer available. They frequently stop working and are a huge drain on time for caretakers and money for school budget.

At Netherton School in Paeroa the Principle Brook Hill comments “The new boiler system is great. Our classrooms are beautiful and warm every morning with a consistent heat. Previously, the old boiler did take hours to warm up and by 10.00am most mornings the heat would start to disappear.”

ÖkoFEN boilers come with a ten year warranty. All other components are as specified by the boiler manufacturer and of an equal quality, with standard manufacturer’s warranties. All spare parts and warranty replacements are held here in New Zealand and there is network of approved contractors for installation and maintenance.

Reduced operating costs

A coal boiler is very labour intensive for caretaker and creates an unhealthy working environment with coal dust and high particulate emissions, plus local sulphurous emissions for children. These advanced pellet boilers systems include vacuum fuel supply and automatic burner plate cleaning and ash removal.

The caretaker at Netherton School describes the new pellet boiler as “boring” (in a good way) as he was always having to shovel coal each morning. The coal boiler would be set from 6.00 am – 10.00 am, where as the new system it is automated and has a pre-set temperature.  The heating system will keep working until the outside temperature reaches 18 degrees and the classrooms are warm enough.  At Te Kura Kaupapa Motuhake o Tawhiuau in Murupara it would take the care taker 6 – 8 hours a week to empty burnt coal slag and ash, an unnecessary use of time and a very unpleasant job.

Stable cost of fuel

Te Kura Kaupapa Motuhake o Tawhiuau in Murupara last year burned 8.52 tonnes of coal costing the school $3,025. A cost which is set to rise in coming years.  The cost for pellets is estimated at $4,000 and although the cost may fluctuate with the price of fuel for delivery they have been offered a five year fixed price contract for supply. The current pricing sitting at around $382/tonne or $0.07/kWh, compared to coal at $355/tonne or $0.06/kWh.  This is also considerably cheaper than diesel at $0.10/kWh and recent natural gas contracts being offered at $0.11/kWh.

Reduced emissions

Alongside the economic and labour savings it really is the environment that wins. The fossil fuel boilers which are replaced with ÖkoFEN pellet boilers have emissions reductions of at least 98% because wood pellets have the lowest carbon emissions of any heating fuel in NZ. Wood pellets in NZ are 100% renewable, made from waste sawdust and the majority are manufactured using waste geothermal heat.

Educational opportunities

This sits well with the ethos of many schools who are educating our future leaders on environmental issues. Representatives from Bayswater School in Auckaland state, “As a Green-Gold Enviroschool we are proud to encourage care of our environment through the Bayswater School Care Code. The installation of the pellet boiler fits in perfectly with that ethos.”

Challenges & solutions

The challenge for most schools with the replacement is most likely to be the storage of the pellets which must be inside.  They can be installed in a plant room or delivered as an ÖkoFEN Energy Box, a pre-fabricated, self-contained system ready for placement and connection on-site. These can deliver all central heating and hot water required from a single container (6m x 2.4m) or multiple containers for larger buildings.

Many of these challenges are faced by other building owners around NZ and the pellet boiler solutions can be applied for all building types and heat users, from hotels to swimming pools, hospitals to apartment buildings.

Learn more about reducing carbon emissions in buildings and Carbon Neutral Government Programmes

We have now done installations in these schools:

  • Netherton Primary School – Paeroa
  • Bayswater – Auckland
  • TKKM o Tawhiuau – Murapara
  • Runanga School – West Coast
  • Cobden School – West Coast
  • Paeroa Central School – Paeroa
  • Miller Avenue School – Paeroa
  • Paengaroa School – Bay of Plenty
  • Mercury Bay School – Whitianga
  • Murchison Area School – Tasman
  • Edendale School – Auckland
  • Windsor North – Invercargill
  • Ravensbourne – Dunedin
  • Palmerston
  • Turaki