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Financial help is available for wood burning boilers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 June 2012 at 10:04 am

Q: Could you point us in the right direction in regards to having an external wood burning boiler installed (for heat and hot water), and would it be covered under a FIT scheme like our solar PV system?

A:  Interest in wood burning boilers - also known as biomass boilers - is on the increase. With oil prices soaring, and help available from the renewable heat incentive (RHI), biomass is seen as an attractive alternative, particularly in rural areas off the mains gas network.

Biomass boilers tend to be larger than the oil or LPG equivalent, so you will need enough storage space. You will also need space to store the fuel and keep it dry.

There are three main types of fuel: logs, wood chips and wood pellets. Pellets are most energy efficient and need the least amount of storage space. They can also be automatically fed into the boiler through a hopper.

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is the equivalent of the feed-in tariff, but for renewable heat. Phase 1 launched last year and is for commercial installations.

The detail for the domestic phase is due to be announced in September this year, and to be launched in summer 2013. In the interim there is a capital grant scheme, to help with the cost of installation, called the renewable heat premium payments. This will give you £950 per unit for the upfront cost of a biomass boiler (costs of a boiler range from £5 - 11,000 including installation, flue and commissioning).

Anyone who installs between 15 July 2009 and the start date of the domestic RHI will get the incentive, as long as they are eligible. The catch 22 is that we don't yet know what the eligibility criteria are.

To get site specific estimates of cost and feasibility, contact three local installers. Click here to search for YouGen member installers working in your area.

Photo: Gunmatic

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