With the constant rise in prices of oil and fossil fuels, many people have started to look for alternative ways of heating their homes and businesses. One of the options that is gaining popularity is an investment in wood pellet or wood chip boilers. Wood pellet and wood chip heating is a new and modern solution consisting of a range of decorative stoves and boilers for your home or business. As with any heating system, the pros and cons of biomass boilers are numerous, which is why we constantly evaluate the quality and cost effectiveness of the boilers we supply.
What is Biomass Fuel?
Biomass is fuel developed from organic materials such as wood, plants or plant-based materials which are not used for food or feed. The most common biomass energy source is wood, in the form of logs, pellets or wood chips. Burning biomass releases heat which can then be utilised to heat homes and generate electricity.
Thinking of a Biomass Boiler?
It can seem daunting to switch from a conventional fossil fuel system to a renewable technology such as biomass. We want our customers to be fully informed and comfortable before purchasing from us and this is why we have provided you with a list of pros and cons.
Advantages of Biomass
- Cost effective and eco-friendly solution
Biomass power is a carbon neutral energy generated from renewable organic waste that would otherwise be dumped in landfills, openly burned, or left as fodder for forest fires. Replacing a coal or electric heating system with a biomass boiler can help the average household reduce it’s carbon dioxide output by up to 9.5 tons, annually.
- Claim RHI and get paid for every kWh generated
Whether you have a domestic or non-domestic property, biomass can actually earn you money. Biomass boilers and stoves qualify for the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme (RHI). This means that installing a biomass boiler or stove can earn you money over a period of years. For a business installing biomass, this could mean earnings for the next 20 years. Many businesses (including farms and land based estates) are converting to biomass and installing boilers for this very reason.
- Fuel prices are stable when compared to fossil fuels generating additional savings, with less geopolitical risk
Prices of traditional fuels like oil and gas are steadily increasing, and this tendency is not expected to change anytime soon. Biomass wood fuels have much more stable prices, so you will not see your bills increasing sharply.
- Use up waste wood
Biomass energy is a great way to dispose of waste wood. If you live or run a business in a rural location, chances are you have access to an ample supply of wood to burn. This means a new biomass system is even more sustainable as you will be burning local wood instead of having it delivered.
- Perfect for off-grid locations
You don’t need to be connected to utilities so a biomass boiler is a perfect off grid solution for both heating and hot water.
- Works like your fossil fuel heating system and can manage both your heating and hot water
Biomass boilers are very similar to conventional gas boilers, providing you with space heating and hot water for the property. Instead of using gas (or oil) to produce the heat, biomass boilers combust sustainably sourced wood fuel.
Disadvantages of Biomass Boilers
A biomass boiler can be considerably bigger when compared to fossil fuel boilers and in most instances space for a fuel store also needs to be considered.
- Upfront cost can be quite expensive although long-term savings and RHI counter this.
Installing a biomass boiler is not cheap. Domestic biomass boilers usually start at around £10,000 and commercial biomass boilers can cost considerably more so overall it is a big investment. However, this should be balanced with the potential long term savings in energy costs and also the financial incentives which are on offer. The savings on energy and the RHI can mean that within a few years the investment has been recovered. For people with holiday home businesses which are off-grid as well as land-based businesses such as farms, generating an annual income and low energy costs is very desirable.
- This type of boiler requires some maintenance
Although not overly demanding, biomass boilers will require some maintenance. Even if the majority of the modern boilers include self-cleaning systems, the heat exchanger must often be brushed in order to have the highest working proficiency. Additionally, ash bins need to be regularly emptied and if you don’t have an automatic feed it will require you to top up your wood pellets. As with all heating equipment regular servicing is recommended.
- Access for the delivery lorry for fuel supply needs to be considered
As with any large delivery, access to your property will need to be considered. Many biomass boilers are auger-fed so you only need to get within a few metres of the fuel store.
- Fuel quality can be more variable than fossil fuels
Good wood chips will have been processed from seasoned wood and should contain a moisture content and particle size that matches the requirement of the boiler it is intended by used with. Low quality chips may damage the appliance and reduce its reliability considerably. Typically, larger boilers (greater than 1MW) are designed to be more robust, with a higher tolerance to lower grade chips. Wood pellets and wood chips are quality graded. Biomass boilers must use specified fuels for manufacturer’s recommendations and RHI purposes.
Biomass is still comparatively small in the UK. Fewer than 5% of the UK’s homes are heated by biomass boilers. Biomass is an untapped resource which can be very versatile and used as a fuel for electricity, heat and transport as well as the production of industrial material. Here at Innasol we source the best products from the greatest manufacturers in the world. We strive for impeccable quality and this is why we are constantly working to provide the best service and the finest products to our clients.