Save on expensive fossil fuels
Unlike fossil fuels that are created over millions of years, Biomass or Bio fuels as they are sometimes known are produced from organic materials and are sourced either directly from plants or as a bi-product of industrial, commercial, agricultural or domestic products.
There are 2 main categories:
- Woody Biomass such as forest products, untreated wood products energy crops and quick growing trees like willow which are known as short rotation coppice (SRC).
- Non Woody Biomass, which includes animal waste, biodegradable products and high-energy crops like Rape Seed and maize.
In most cases of domestic use the most common form is wood pellets, wood chips or wood logs.
Save Energy and Reduce Landfill Waste
On average a biomass boiler could save you around £470 per year on heating bills. In domestic properties there are two main ways of using Biomass for heating. You could install a stand-alone stove, which will provide the heating for a single room or living space and is usually fuelled using logs or pellets. Some models may also come with a boiler to provide hot water. The other is to connect the boiler to the central heating and hot water systems.
Log boilers must be loaded by hand and therefore may not be suitable for all locations. The alternative, an automatic pellet or wood chip system can be more expensive.
Although burning biomass fuels does release CO2 it only releases the Carbon that has been stored and absorbed throughout its growth. For this reason Bio fuels are seen as a carbon neutral fuel.
Is Biomass Suitable for my home?
The good news is if you are self building Biomass heaters are relatively easy to design into your building. Here are some things to remember.
- Fuel: You must have enough storage space for the fuel, and good access to the boiler for loading. Also you should think about where you will get your fuel from.
- Flue: The vent material needs to be specifically designed for wood fuel appliances. There must also be sufficient air movement in order for the stove to operate properly.
- Building Regulations: As with all parts of your build the system you choose must comply with all the relevant and latest Building Regulations. Your architect will need to know what system you are using before they can submit this part of the Building Regulation Documents.
- Smokeless Zones: You may need to look into the Clean Air Act as wood can only be burnt in exempted appliances in these areas.
- Planning: Always check with your Local Planning Authority before making additions to your building especially if you live in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
How much will it cost to install?
Stand alone heaters cost between £2000 and £4000 fully installed. Savings will depend on how the stove is used and which fuel you are replacing. However a stove that provides 10% of the annual space heating requirements could save around 840kg of Carbon Dioxide when installed in an electrically heated home.
The cost for boilers can range between £5,000 and £14,000 fully installed. Pellet boilers are usually slightly more expensive than a manual log feed system. A wood pellet boiler can save you up to £470 a year in energy bills.
Unlike other forms of renewable energy, biomass systems require you to pay for the fuel you use. These costs can vary depending on the distance you are from your supplier and whether you are able to buy in large quantities.