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Eco guest house is first business in Wales to benefit from RHI

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 June 2012 at 10:17 am

A biomass boiler, solar PV and solar thermal are all the result of a Welsh guest house's belief that you should be able to enjoy a holiday without damaging the environment. Installation of the boiler means the guest house has become the first business in Wales to benefit from the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

The six-bedroom Bryn Elltyd guesthouse , near Blaenau Ffestiniog, has installed a 25kW wood pellet boiler, in a purpose built extension on the end of the house. It is designed to act as a heat sink, with the heat from the boiler room warming up the thick granite gable end wall of the house. In doing so he had to move existing solar thermal panels, which means that they now count as second hand, and won't qualify for the RHI.

The building is also highly insulated, with turf roofs and two conservatories for heat capture. Rainwater is harvested for flushing the toilet and watering the allotment. Owner, John Whitehead, is not short of ideas for further improvements either: "I do a lot of thinking," he says. "It's what happens when you have more time than money!" Next on the agenda are building a bike store and installing a charging point for electric cars.

The ÖkoFEN Pellematic biomass boiler was fitted into a purpose-built boiler house with a fabric pellet store. It was supplied by Organic Energy and installed by Menai Heating. It cost £21,000 to install, which included moving the solar thermal panels, connecting two central heating systems, two storage tanks and a six and a half tonne pellet store.

“Our choice of heating systems was not easy," added John, who has run the guesthouse with his wife, Ceilia, since 2006.  "It took two years of research, visits to showrooms and exhibitions. Crucially, in order to attract the RHI, the system needed to be approved by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) as well as be installed by a company accredited by the MCS.

“Menai Heating was one of the few MCS installers who understood our aims and was approved and competent to install and integrate biomass, with our existing central heating, solar thermal and solar electric technologies. They were even able to use the ÖkoFEN computer controls to integrate the solar thermal tubes I fitted on the boiler house roof.

“We are one of the first installations to receive the Government's RHI payments in the UK, and the first in Wales. Getting this far has been an eye opener and challenge. Small businesses may find the accreditation system cumbersome but we won through thanks to lots of help from Menai Heating and Organic Energy. Business-wise we can now look forward to many year of index-linked payments.”

The Whiteheads estimate that they will receive annual payments of around £3,000 per year from the renewable heat incentive, for the next 20 years. This is calculated as: 25kw boiler x 1314 hours x 0.083p This more than covers the cost of the wood pellets needed to fuel the boiler.

Although the RHI was introduced for the non-domestic sector last November, only 75 installations have so far been approved to receive the incentive. By

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