Introduction to biomass boilers for heating and hot water
Posted by FairEnergy . on 4 December 2012 at 12:23 pm
With the price of fossil fuel rising, people of the UK groan as they reluctantly turn up their thermostats, as temperatures plummet for the festive season. I know this as I speak to these folks daily through my role at Fair Energy. There is no hiding from the pain of this rise in energy costs. Some people I speak to no longer attempt to heat the whole of their house, and have rooms suffering from damp, mould and mildew damage as a result.
One answer to this problem is Biomass. We are (believe it or not) in many cases sat on the biomass equivalent of our own oil wells. Much of our woodland is unmanaged and, if managed correctly, can supply us with fuel to power our heating and hot water systems, long into the future.
The main hurdle I have to overcome when proposing these wood burning solutions to my clients is the initial outlay cost to install them. This is likely to be 4-5 times greater than the cost of installing a fossil fuel system; however fuel is roughly half the cost. This is not always enough to convince those wishing to remove their inefficient old oil-guzzling systems and this is where the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) comes in.
The Renewable Heat Incentive is a government backed incentive scheme run by Ofgem which sees money paid direct to the end user for every kWh of heat delivered into their home from a Biomass system. This, as a general rule of thumb, equates to approximately £1,000 per year for every 10kW of biomass boiler installed.
For example, our recent installation at Highfield Farm in Topsham saw a 90kW ETA wood chip boiler installed, which will deliver an income of approximately £9,000 a year from the RHI alone. Then there is additional financial benefit of switching from oil (6.4p kWh) to woodchip (3p kWh). This particular client mentioned at a recent event held at his farm, that this Christmas he and his family would mostly be looking forward to a fully heated home and I quote “not have to scrape ice from the inside of his children’s bedroom windows each morning”.
With Biomass, you are paid to heat your home up to an allowance set by Ofgem, which permits you to heat your home as and when it requires heat, and be paid to do so! Though the installation cost is significant, the RHI and fuel cost savings combined shows a payback in many cases of as little as 5 years, and on top of this the scheme you are locked into is index-linked for 20 years so there will likely be a further 15 years of free heat or income once it has paid for itself.*
By installing a biomass heating system in your home or business you will secure a sustainable source of heat to your home long into the future whilst cutting your carbon emissions. You will also generate attractive additional income.
*NB: this example is for the non domestic RHI. Tariff rates for the domestic scheme (which starts in summer 2013) have not been finalised yet, but it is unlikely to be so generous.
About the author: Fred Thomson is a technical surveyor and John Fursdon is a senior technical sales consultant at Fair Energy
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