The Carbon Trust launched a detailed, step-by-step guide to biomass heating last Friday. It is particularly targeting small- to medium-scale businesses to address a lack of awareness of the technology’s potential.
The guide is the first output from its Biomass Heat Accelerator programme, which began in 2006 with the aim of boosting uptake of the technology. The guide covers feasibility assessment, procurement, implementation, operation and maintenance.
It focuses on conventional biomass combustion equipment using solid fuels including wood chips, pelletised biomass fuel and straw. But it is also relevant to other biomass projects, including combined heat and power schemes.
The trust points out that heating accounts for a huge 49% of UK carbon emissions. Only 1% of this demand is supplied from renewable sources, and the Renewable Energy Strategy consultation calls for this to be raised to 14% by 2020, with the Energy Act 2008 providing for a Renewable Heat Incentive. This suggests there are major opportunities for the biomass heating market.
The guide says the greatest cost savings are in small to medium-scale biomass applications (100kWth-3MWth) and in areas off the gas grid. It notes for example that wood or straw burning can yield savings of 2-4 pence per kilowatt hour compared to the cost of heating oil.
In one case study, the Cwm Taff NHS Trust found that replacing heating oil with a 1.2MW biomass boiler using woodchips saved £35,000 a year and will pay back its installation cost in five years.