Energy's Best Kept Secret

Biomass Heating

View or download our Biomass for Business brochure, which gives an overview of biomass, financing options and FAQs.

Using sustainable fuel for central heating and hot water

Wood-fuelled heating systems, also known as biomass systems, burn wood pellets, chips and/or logs to power central heating and hot water boilers. A biomass boiler burns the low carbon emission fuel and could save you up to £880 per year, when compared to electric heating.

Unlike most renewable energy technologies where there is an upfront investment, then the element that provides the power (i.e. solar or ground source heat pumps) is free, there is an ongoing fuel cost with biomass heating.

Benefits of biomass heating
  • Affordable heating fuel. Although the price of wood fuel varies considerably, it is often cheaper than alternative, non-sustainable alternatives.
  • Get paid for the heat you generate. The UK Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) pays you for the heat you generate and use. You will receive quarterly, index-linked payments for a fixed number of years (7 years for domestic systems, 20 years for commercial systems) from the date when your application to the RHI scheme is approved.
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  • Reduce your carbon footprint. The carbon dioxide emitted when wood is burned is the same amount that was absorbed over the months and years the plant was growing. The process is sustainable as long as new plants continue to grow in place of those used for fuel (this is regulated by an approved list of sustainable wood fuel providers. There are some carbon emissions caused by the cultivation, manufacture and transportation of the fuel, but as long as the fuel is sourced locally, these are much lower than the emissions from fossil fuels.

Unlike most renewable energy technologies where there is an upfront investment, then the element that provides the power (i.e. solar or ground source heat pumps) is free, there is an ongoing fuel cost with biomass heating.

How do biomass boilers work?

Wood is hardly a new fuel for heating properties, but the technology has improved considerably to make it more efficient. Modern wood-burning heating systems convert up to 90% of the fuel into useful heat, and can heat water and supply radiators.

Biomass boilers can replace oil or gas boilers to heat hot water and radiators (or underfloor heating). They burn wood pellets, wood chips, logs or other forms of biomass.

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The most advanced boilers are fully automatic and control the amount of fuel and air supplied to the combustion chamber – as a result, they are highly efficient and emissions are low.

They are fed wood pellets or chips from a pellet storage system (known as a hopper), and some systems are now able to burn not only wood pellets/chips, but also logs and other wood, using a hybrid biomass boiler. Aside from these hybrid boilers, a biomass systems will typically have one type of compatible fuel, which the user must use exclusively, so as not to damage their heating system.

How much will you earn and save?

Savings in carbon dioxide emissions are very significant – up to 15.4 tonnes a year – when a wood-fuelled boiler replaces a solid (coal) fired system or electric storage heating. Financial savings are more variable – if you replace an older gas heating system with a wood-burning system you might save up to £70 a year, but if you are replacing an old electric heating system you could save as much as £880 per year.

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This table shows how much you could save by installing pellet central heating in a typical four-bedroom detached house with basic insulation:

If your system is eligible for the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme, you could earn quarterly, index-linked cash payments for 7 years for a domestic system and 20 years for a non-domestic system.

The amount you receive through the RHI scheme will depend on a number of factors including the latest tariffs available and – in some cases – metering. You can estimate how much money you could earn through RHI using the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)’s RHI payment calculator.

One part of the RHI eligibility criteria is that your biomass heating system must be installed by an MCS Accredited Installer, such as Just Energy Solutions.

Biomass heating system maintenance

A biomass heating system must be kept fuelled and clean. You must top up your boiler with wood fuel to ensure it never runs out; the frequency of top ups will depend on the size of your boiler and how much fuel you are using for your heating. Wood pellets can be ordered in a wide range of quantities, to suit each user’s fuel consumption and storage space. To ensure your system is eligible for RHI, your fuel must be purchased from an approved list of sustainable wood fuel providers.

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Biomass boilers should be kept clean and swept regularly to remove the ash produced by the combustion process. Ash quantities are generally very low (less than 1% of fuel volume), but you will still need to empty the ash bin of a wood burning boiler. This is likely to be weekly and never more than once per day.

Most biomass boilers will have self-cleaning systems which collect ash from the combustion grate and the heat exchanger tubes. If the ash bin is not cleaned out regularly, it will build up and adversely affect combustion conditions, which can lead to boiler failure and shut down. Some boilers have a mechanism for compressing the ash which reduces the number of times the ash bin needs to be emptied.

With automatic ash removal and cleaning of the heat exchanger, the only other maintenance requirement will be occasional ash removal and an annual maintenance check, which can be carried out by your system’s installer.

How much will it cost?

A domestic biomass system will cost £5,000 – £25,000 (including installation, flue, fuel store and VAT at 5%), depending on the make, size and level of automation of the boiler. Commercial biomass heating systems can vary hugely in size and, therefore, in cost. Get in touch with our team to arrange a no obligation survey and quote for your biomass system.

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Pellet costs depend mainly on the size and method of delivery. If you have room for a large fuel store that will accept several tonnes of pellets at a time, delivered in bulk by tanker, you can keep the cost down to around £230 per tonne in most parts of the UK.

For more accurate costs, you can contact one of the RHI scheme’s approved list of sustainable wood fuel providers.

How long will it take?

From the moment you call or email the team we will normally be able to book a survey for you within 1 – 3 working days.

Our surveyor will carry out an inspection of your property and give you a quote for your system within 3 – 5 working days.

If you are happy to go ahead with your biomass installation at the quoted price, our engineers will typically be scheduled to start work within 2 – 4 weeks and complete your installation within 1 – 2 weeks (larger systems could mean your system takes longer to install).

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Once your system is installed and signed off, we can assist you in your application to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme (provided your system is eligible under the Domestic RHI scheme or the Non-Domestic RHI scheme. The RHI application is submitted to your energy provider, and the time it will take to process your application varies from provider to provider.
Who would carry out the installation?

Our multi-skilled, experienced and MCS approved engineers are fully qualified to carry out your domestic or commercial biomass heating installation.

Our team will be dressed in uniform and carrying their Just Energy Solutions ID card; with years of experience, they always work tidily and will be able to answer any questions you may have.

Call or email us now for more information, to book a survey and/or for a no obligation quote.

South East Office

North Orbital Road

St Albans

AL2 1DL

T: 0844 880 8189

E: hello@justenergysolutions.com

South West Office

Penstraze Business Centre

Truro

Cornwall TR4 8PN

t: 01872 562 118

E: hello@justenergysolutions.com

North East Office

Suite 8, SV Rutter Business Centre

126 Great Lime Road

Newcastle NE12 6RU

t: 01912 600 556

E: hello@justenergysolutions.com

5 + 4 =

South East Office

Just Energy Solutions Limited

North Orbital Road

St Albans

Hertfordshire AL2 1DL

t: 0844 880 8189

e: hello@justenergysolutions.com

North East Office

Just Energy Solutions Limited

Suite 8, SV Rutter Business Centre

126 Great Lime Road

Newcastle NE12 6RU

t: 01912 600 556

e: hello@justenergysolutions.com

South West Office

Just Energy Solutions Limited

Penstraze Business Centre

Truro

Cornwall TR4 8PN

t: 01872 562 118

e: hello@justenergysolutions.com

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H&V Awards 2015 - Finalist
Installer of the year 2015
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Just Energy Solutions Ltd, North Orbital Road, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL2 1DL is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 752346) as an Introducer Appointed Representative of Toriga Energy Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 631249).