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Biomass

Biomass systems are also known as wood-fuelled heating systems and burn wood chips, pellets or logs to power central heating, boilers or warm a single room.

We can supply and install a range of biomass systems for clients in Devon, Somerset and Dorset at competitive prices.

Biomass Wood
  • Stoves burn pellets or logs to provide heat to a single room and can be fitted with a back boiler to provide hot water as well.
  • Boilers burn chips, pellets or logs and are connected to a hot water and central heating system. Installing a wood-fuelled boiler can save about £600 a year compared to electric heating.

The benefits of wood-fuelled heating

  • Affordable fuel for heating: The price of wood fuel can vary considerably but it still can be cheaper than other options for heating.
  • Financial support: Wood-fuelled systems can still benefit from the Renewable Heat Premium Payment and the Renewable Heat Incentive.
  • A low-carbon option: The same amount of carbon dioxide that has been absorbed over the years that the plant was growing is emitted when the wood is burned. As long as new plants continue to grow in place of the ones used, this process is sustainable. However, there are some carbon emissions that are produced from the cultivation, manufacture and transportation of the wood fuel. If the wood is sourced locally then the emissions will be much lower than fossil fuels.

Costs, savings and earnings

Costs

A pellet stove will cost about £4,300 which includes installation. If a new log stove is installed, the will cost less than half of this amount including chimney lining or a new flue.

Automatically fed pellet boilers for a home cost about £11,500 with installation, VAT at 5%, fuel store and flue. A manually fed boiler system is slightly cheaper.

The cost of pellets depends on the method of delivery and the size. If only a few bags are bought each time it is needed then it will make them expensive. If there is a large fuel store for several tonnes of pellets and delivered by tanker then this will keep the cost down to about £190 per tonne in most areas of the UK.

Logs can often be cheaper than pellets but this depends on the local wood suppliers as they are expensive to transport. If you are able to store enough logs for more than a year then you can buy unseasoned logs to let them season for a year which will save you money. To find wood fuel suppliers locally, click on this link to visit the Log Pile website.

Savings

When a wood-fuelled boiler replaces an electric heating system or a solid fuel system then at least 7.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide can be saved a year. The financial savings of installing a wood boiler vary much more. If a gas heating system is replaced with a wood heating system then you could save £100 a year, but if you replace electric heating then you could save at least £580 a year.

The table below shows how much can be saved by installing a biomass heating system in a standard semi-detached three-bedroom house with basic insulation:

Fuel Replaces Expected saving Expected carbon dioxide saving
Electricity £580 a year 7.5 tonnes a year
Oil £280 a year 4 tonnes a year
LPG £720 a year 3.5 tonnes a year
Coal £300 a year 7.5 tonnes a year
Gas £100 a year 3 tonnes a year

The savings above assume that the house has been properly insulated, as we always recommend that home owners make sure their home is insured correctly before they consider installing a renewable energy system. As well as saving money from insulating you could also save money by switching to wood heating.

Savings

For the heat you generate from the wood boiler, you may be able to get payments through the government's Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This scheme is planned to be launched in October this year.

You might be able to get assistance through the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme with the cost of installation for a wood boiler from August 2011.

Log and pellet stoves aren't expected to be supported by the RHI and are not eligible for Renewable Heat Premium Payments.

Choosing a wood-fuelled heating system

  • Stove or boiler? Stoves are only used to heat a single room and are normally used together with other heating systems, but might also use a back boiler to provide heated water. Boilers can be used to replace a standard oil or gas boiler to heat hot water and heat radiators in a house.
  • Pellets, chips or logs? Pellets are more controllable than logs and much easier to use. Pellet boilers can be run automatically just like an oil or gas boiler. Chips are only suitable for heating groups of houses or larger buildings. Logs are much more work as you will need a lot to be able to heat a house, but if you have a good local supplier then they can be cheaper. Boilers and stoves that use wood have to be filled by hand but most chip and pellet burners will have an automatic feeder that will refill them at regular times.
  • Do you have a local fuel supplier? Some companies can deliver pellets anywhere in Northern Ireland and mainland Britain but the supply of logs can be more variable.
  • Do you have space? Wood boilers are much larger than standard oil or gas boilers. Also you will need storage space for the fuel: somewhere thats appropriate for feeding the boiler and easy for deliveries.
  • Do you have somewhere to put the flue? A flue will be needed that will meet the regulations for wood-burning appliances. Either an existing chimney can be used but will have to be lined to make them legal and safe or a new insulated flue pipe can be installed.
  • Do you need permission? Planning permission might not be needed but you will have to check. To ensure that any new wood heating system complies with current building regulations then you will need to use an installer who is a member of a competent person scheme. 
  • Do you have a thatched roof? Read HETAS' advice about building regulations (PDF, 741K).

For information regarding our other renewable energy solutions such as solar PV, solar thermal, ground source heat pumps and air source heat pumps then please visit the relevant pages.