The greenest budget ever

Listening to the “emergency” budget today was fairly tedious. We were waiting for mention of some forward thinking on carbon reduction, energy, renewables, perhaps the greenest budget ever. We heard nothing. The Renewable Heat Incentive funding is set to close to new applications in April of 2016, and we, like most people in the industry, would like to know the governments thinking moving forward.

Amongst the welfare cuts, increase in the minimum wage, freezing fuel duty at the pump, the Chancellor has produced a package of measures worth £1.3bn to support the North Sea Oil based companies and help to expand production. He has removed the Climate Change Levy exemption on renewable energy produced electricity and confirmed the ending of subsidies for on shore wind. He channeling all vehicle excise duty into the building of new roads, perhaps this will help reduce miles travelled.

This does seem to be at odds with the Climate Change Comittee report that was published at the end of June 2015. This clearly states that whilst the delivery of bioenergy seems to be delivering to target, with the halt in funding the industry needs to “urgently” know what comes next. The Renewable Heat Incentive has not delivered the amount of heat pump installations as expected. The committee recommended in their 2014 report that the awareness of the RHI needs to be improved (at 21%) and this needs to be complimented with additional training as support for installers.

On the face of things there has been an unprecidented 8% fall in carbon emissions in the last year. They can largely be counted for by the following:

  • A very mild winter (and perhaps more mild winters on the way)
  • Closure of coal power production
  • A change in accounting measures
  • A reduction in the public sector estate, with many local councils selling off their building stock (and therefore not heating them.
  • Some good progress in renewable electricity generation

The main issue from the report is that for the targets to be met in the future you can only close so many power stations. There is significant CO2 being produced from heating. Low carbon heat makes up between 1.6 and 2.1% of the heating total in 2014 with an ambition to get to 12% by 2020. Buildings make up 16% of all CO2 emissions. If you add in the falling away of the retrofit of insulation or the lack of input into the development of standards for new homes or new social homes, then this area becomes a budget that may not be reached.

The Telegraph suggested that the Chancellor would review the Levy Control Framework this morning, as this was spiralling out of control. There was no mention of this in his speech. This money, raised through taxes on energy bills to pay for renewable energy (all electricity) strategies, e.g. FiTs

Looking forward we do know that there are 10 months of support for new renewable heating projects. Financially it makes better sense to install a biomass boiler if your needs are greater e.g. 40kW domestically or more than 100kW non domestically. If you would like advice on what to install, what it costs, what incentive you may achieve then get in touch with us through the “contact us” form or phone 01225 580 401

Biomass degressions June 2015

The biomass degressions for both the non domestic and domestic Renewable Heat Incentive were announced at the start of June to come into force on the 1 July.

What has happened in June?

The first week of June was possibly our busiest ever week for selling wood pellet boilers to installers in Wales, Scotland and the North of England. This was mainly for the installer to be able to get the boiler in time to install it before the rate changes on 1 July.

Roger and Steve went out to Bulgaria early in June for annual training and an update on the NES product range. There will be some new log gasification boilers being added to the Pyroburn range as MCS accredited boilers. These will be affordable and without a Lambda sensor. 18, 25, 30 and 40kW.

There are many other upgrades, and we will release details when they become live.

Once back in the UK we attended the Eco Technology Show in Brighton. This was located at the Amex Stadium, home of Brighton and Hove Albion.

We exibited a 40kW wood pellet boiler (Pelleburn) with a 1500l thermal store. Perhaps our 2 best selling items. Fantasic weather over the week, finishing with a thunder storm on the way home.

At the show there were many interesting talks, and the panel discussion around meeting the 2020 targets for emissions reduction was the best attended. Caroline Lucas chaired the panel. One part of the discussion was that the RHI funding is to finish in 2017, and the total installations to date do not help the UK reach the targets for renewable heating without more funding. There is a new energy minister, Amber Rudd, who is yet to comment on the RHI, we will have to wait and see.

We were also near to the Center of Alternative Energy Stand. They have produced a document “Zero Carbon Britain, rethinking the future”, which I am busy reading at the moment. They do emphasise the need to improve the thermal quality of buildings and also point out that there are limits to “growing” biomass as there are competing demands for land. (Personally I do think that there can be better woodland management and co-ordination on a local scale to produce chip, pellet and log products. I also think that there will be substitute materials for biomass that can also be fuels. e.g. waste from anearobic digestion, recycled coffee granuals, straw, etc, all of which there is work towards meeting a standard at the moment). However the point is clear – if we want to reduce CO2 and CO emissions for heat then we are about 20% of the way there at the moment and 5 years to go.

After Brighton I went up to Scotland – firstly surveying a possible 160kW installation in Dumfries and Galloway with DMS Energy, after which of to Oban and Ferguson Energy, where I looked at a number of installations that had been running for some time, including the Bunkhouse on the Isle of Mull.

What struck me was, despite the rain, the area was beautiful and ideal for biomass. For homes the Pyroburn (log boiler), works very well as fuel can be plentiful.

What is the best way to get from Oban to Aboyne (near Aberdeen)? Up, underneath or through the Cairngorms? I went under and found the road shut (big detour), then on my return I went through and found the road shut (another detour), so perhaps the best route is above! I did, however, find Sugplumb Ltd very accomodating. They are also fitting a lot of renewables at the moment. I did notice the trees during my scenic drive!

After a brief pitstop in Blackford I went down to Oiline Ltd near to Colne, Skipton and Keithley. They have been installing mainly pellet boilers into an area that seems to be more rural than the Cairngorms. Certainly the roads are no better!

There do seem to be fewer trees in this part of North Yorkshire, however I do know that Oil Line are completing a Pyroburn log gasification boiler at the time of writing.

What remains of June for many is getting the RHI applications in before the deadline. We will be making further visits out to see boilers in early July.

Wood Pellet boilers – how much will I be paid?

If you have a wood pellet boiler then one of the key considerations is understanding whether it will leave you better off.

1 – if you have a recent EPC or Green Deal Assessment there will be two figures on the last page (p 4 of 4) that show you how much space heating, and how much hot water you require in kWhrs. For instance this could be 33,000 hrs and 2500 hours.

2 – If you require to update loft insulation or cavity wall insulation there will also be an estimate on how much this will save you in heating hours.




You now have the information to use the governments Domestic RHI calculator. The advantage of this is that they do keep all the tariffs up to date, so you will know what you will get, providing you install before a certain date.

Once you have figure for what you will get there are key considerations that you can estimate yourself:

What size boiler do I need?

The first thing to do is to roughly calculate what size boiler you need. For instance if your home requires 32000 kWhrs a year of heat then you need to estimate how many hours the boiler will be used for over 1 year.

Estimate 1 – The RHI commercial figure is 1314 hours a year

Estimate 2 – The Energy Savings Trust figure is 1100 hours per year

In reality the figure can vary according to house type – if you have a lot of heat loss e.g. stone walls, then you may need more boiler hours because you are losing lots of heat. If you have a very well insulated home then the home will conserve heat. This is important when it is very cold and determines whether your boiler can keep up with your home’s need.

So – 32000 hours = 24kW boiler using the first estimate or 29kW using the second

If you have secondary heating e.g. a log stove then you may feel that you could use a smaller boiler. If you have poor insulation and no extra heating then you may want a larger one.

If we are invited to do a survey then we have to calculate the size of the boiler, and we do not rely on the EPC figure. However this estimate gives you a starting point.

Once you have got a boiler size it is possible to get a ball park figure for a boiler room installation e.g. no changes to the central heating system, just the replacement cost of the boiler subject to survey.

If you would like us to give you a figure, then please contact us. We do find that our prices are quite reasonable.

£25m Central Heating Fund

A £25m Central Heating Fund can be accessed by local authorities to help those in fuel poverty.

Those in rural areas will be favourably weighted, and the funds are to target those homes without mains gas or current central heating systems.

The solution may contain:

  • renewable heating options – biomass boilers, air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps (eligible under the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive) and heat networks.
  • Oil fired
  • Gas Fired

The technology must be installed alongside a heating system including:

  • Eligible heat exchanger
  • Distribution pipework
  • Heat emitters (e.g. radiators)
  • Heating controls
  • Circulation pump
  • Expansion vessel
  • Air supply and exhaust

The funding can be blended with the Renewable Heat Incentive, and may well target social housing tenants, those identified as “affordable warmth” or low income.

This is a good opportunity for those without central heating systems to benefit from one. Clearly the Renewable Heat Incentive may help further.

For more information please see


Budget 2015

In the budget 2015 there was very little about the UK progress towards its carbon targets for 2020. DECC (Government Department for Environment and Climate Change) had its annual review at the turn of the year. At this point Ed Davey admitted that progress towards the Renewable Heat target is not doing as well as expected and “they” (who ever gets in in the next general election), will have to do better.

The RHI was delayed in coming out, however in the first year of the Domestic Renewable Incentive there has been reviews and tariff reductions. The next one taking place on the 1 April where the tariff will drop to 8.93p per kWh. The Non Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive for small biomass will also fall to 5.87p per kwh. Other technologies remain the same, apart from Anaerobic Degestion. In some respects this is positive news. The uptake of biomass is on the increase, but “not enough”. The reduction in tariff means that companies will have to review where they are targetting potential installations.

If your a dometic home owner and use 15000 kWhs per annum the domestic RHI is now worth £9376 in payments over 7 years. To install a domestic wood pellet boiler within this budget is possible, but many companies who install Austrian or German boilers will find this difficult. This may be for a 3 bedroom detached, but well insulated home. If you need 55000 kWhrs and require a 40kW boiler you will receive £34,380. This is a far more achievable budget for a much larger home. It may be that this home owner (large home with more than 6 bedrooms) finds the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive much more attractive. They may be able to afford a larger hopper for automatic fuel distribution and get an attractive return for the amount that they have invested. This quick analysis suggests that the very large home owner will benefit significantly more from the Domestic RHI.

With regard to the Non Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive the new tariff means a maximum return of £306,984 over 20 years for a 199kW biomass boiler installation. Many businesses require a 5 year payback as part of their procedures. This suggests that the system cost is a maximum of £76,000. Again this is more difficult to do with more expensive boilers.

Part of the difficulty for both the home owner and the organisation is the cost of fuel. Oil is currently around 40p per litre and in the short term this price will not change (with OPEC prices staying low for perhaps the next 3 years). The latest Energy Savings Trust figures from Feb 2015 suggest that fuel prices are very similar between oil, gas and wood pellets. LPG and Electricity are much more expensive.

Fuel prices Gas Oil  LPG Wood pellet
Average price (pence/kWh) 4.29 5.36 8.32 4.77
Standing charge (£/year) £87.92

There are arguments and counter arguments over what will happen to the prices of each fuel over the next 7 years (domestic) or 20 years (Non domestic). What is true is that the pellet market has more room for new suppliers or substitute products. For instance it is possible to make pellets out of straw, AD husks, biocoal, none of which are approved by the RHI just yet, but they may well be introduced over the next few years. This potentially keeps prices low.

There is an issue with electricity prices over the next 5 years or so. The UK has a legally binding 2020 CO2 target. 2/5 of our CO2 emissions come from coal power stations which are due to close down. In the last 5 years of this government it is not clear whether there has been much progress made on Nuclear Power. Austria, and now Luxemburg are objecting to the “subsidy” beig offered to EDF to build the plant at Hinkley. This may well delay further the construction for possibly another decade. We are facing a shortage of electricity. Choosing electricity for heating only adds to the issues that the grid already faces.

In summary – the fuel market is confusing as it is not behaving according to its supposed long term trend. The governemnt is aware that renewable heat can help meet the CO2 targets for 2020, but the RHI scheme has reduced its tariffs and this will impact on a number of sectors of the renewables industry and hamper the growth that the UK needs.

Wood Pellet Solutions is a division of Renewable Living and imports wood pellet and log boilers for the UK domestic and commercial market. To enquire how to make the most of your opportunity to move away from fossil fuels please contact us on our contact page, or phone 01225 580 401.

Degression for the RHI Tariff for domestic biomass

Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive applications are monitored closely. When targets are exceeded this triggers a degression or reduction in the tariff.

Applications for domestic biomass installations for the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive have exceeded targets and from the 1 April 2015 there will be a 20% degression from 10.98 to 8.93p.

This degression will affect all new installations where the installation has not been completed and claimed for.

If you are in any doubt about your application you should have:

1 – A Green Deal Assessment

2 – An MCS certificate that covers the installation of an MCS accredited boiler by an MCS accredited company

For legacy applications before 9 April 2014 the tariff is still at 12.2p for biomass installations. You must, however, apply before 8 April. For instance you may have been waiting to take action on your insulation.

Rates for other technologies such as heat pumps and solar thermal have remained unaffected – and even risen slightly as they have been adjusted for inflation.

These are now:

Applications submitted Biomass boilers and stoves Air source heat pumps Ground source heat pumps Solar thermal
New applications – current and future tariffs
01/01/15 – 31/03/15 10.98p 7.30p 18.80p 19.20p
01/04/15 – 30/06/15* 8.93p 7.42p 19.10p 19.51p

Biomass boiler efficiency

Biomass boiler efficiency in general has come under some criticism in a recent Guardian article .

Key points from the Guardian article are that a DECC study of installed biomass systems found that the average efficiency of the boilers was 66.5%, that the surveyed systems can only reach 76% efficiency, and that this is lower than the needed 85% efficiency to contribute to carbon targets. Yet the original research also states  “In other words, the estimated central performance standards of 81.5% to 72% (and 76.75% on average) would only be slightly exceeded if the boiler were gas, oil or coal fired.”

Whilst the article was clearly pushing heat pumps, a rival renewable technology, there seems to be confusion in the text.

To qualify for the Renewable Heat Incentive biomass boilers have to conform to a European Standard EN303-5. In addition to this the boilers have to be tested to emit limited emissions.

The 85% efficiency relates to the EN303-5 standard and the class of boiler that can be used for an RHI Scheme. This is calculated in lab conditions from the burning of a specific fuel. This is not the overall efficiency of the heating system.

Over the last 2 years there are a number of variables that may have influenced the study.

Issue 1 – Heat Meters

Heat meters are used to measure effective heat that is used by the RHI biomass system. What is recorded on the heat meter is what is paid to the owner of the system. In the majority of cases the heat meters are placed on the entrance to the heated spaces. Thus they only measure what is being used, and not what is being wasted. In addition there have been some issues with the installation and accuracy of the meters, where the accuracy can vary by up to 30%. There are currently free courses to help remedy this.

Issue 2 – Fuel

When the RHI first came into being the boilers could be tested on a very efficient fuel, but in reality the boilers were using a similar fuel that was much less efficient.

For instance you can buy wood briquettes that can have a low moisture content e.g. 8%. These will burn very efficiently, in excess of 90% in the right conditions. However if you use logs that are not properly seasoned then the moisture content will be much higher e.g. 30%, and the efficiency of the burning process may be as low as 65%.

This issue has been addressed in part by a tightening of the specifications. However there are boilers installed that are burning poor quality fuel as it is cheaper than specified fuel. This is more prevalent with landowners or farmers. Today all newly installed boilers should only be burning specified fuel and the boilers should be able to burn with an efficiency of above 85%. Owners of the installation have to keep records of the fuel they have purchased.

Wood Pellets all have to be ENplus. Regular samples of pellets are taken and they are measured for moisture, dust (fines), hardness, and burn quality. There have been some issues with dust in particular. The pellets can degrade in transit and when loaded into a hopper. There are examples where the dust content can rise above 10 or 15%. Clearly this makes the efficiency of fuel to heat produced less efficient. Again these issues are often dealt with by an experienced installer, or many of the good distributors will offer replacement pellets if they have been wrongly handled. There are very few issues with bagged ENplus pellets.

The majority of the boilers in the study seemed to be using woodchip at 199kW. In the case studies provided the fuel used was often wood chips with a moisture value of 30 or 31 percent. Wood Chips are significantly cheaper than wood pellets, but burn less efficiencty, and therefore will have a poorer efficiency. For instance if the burn efficiency of 31% moist pellets is 80% then the heat transfer to water will be below 80%. This will largely explain the number of responses that seemed to be 70% + and fairly well installed.

Issue 3 – sizing of boilers

With Solar PV everyone who purchased wanted as much as possible. This produces more electricity, which is a good thing! For biomass the owner of a system gets paid the highest tariff up to 199kW. So if you are buying a biomass system for investment purposes then it seems that choosing 199kW will earn you more money.

The difficulty with this is that this causes 2 problems. a) The boiler is not run at its most efficient output. This is true, for instance, for many combination condensing boilers that have been sized for hot water production and not heating need. The boiler never reaches its optimum output and is less efficient as a consequence. b) The heat is not really needed. Here the owner is more interested in the tariff rather than the efficient distribution of the heat. The heat is then lost.

Issue 4 – UK weather and system management

UK weather presents a number of issues. Firstly we do have mild winters and cold winters. This can relate to the sizing issue. When you size a boiler you examine possible temperatures that you want the boiler to be able to cope with. For many this may be -3 degrees. In reality we may experience the majority of the winter with temperatures of between 6-12 degrees.

The other issue with UK weather is that it is intermittent. We generally do not need the heating on all day every day. Therefore you have to consider carefully when the heating needs to be turned on. If the following month is then warm you will wast the heat that is already in your system. For instance if you have buffer tanks and have spent time heating them up, only not to use the heat, then this heat could be lost and not used.

Issue 6 – General heating system efficiency

What is not clear from the Guardian article is how the efficiency is measured. The original article is far clearer and looks at the whole system efficiency rather than implying that the efficiency is all down to the boiler.

Before the heat gets to the heat meter there may be pipework (lagged), district heating pipe work, buffer tanks, and the transfer of the heat from the burn chamber within the boiler to hot water.

Examining the transfer from heat to water, there is a UK database that is slowly expanding that shows that heat to water efficiency (typically 80-86%) from biomass boilers rather than the burnt efficiency of the burning process that is often above 90%.

Due to the nature of the study being more about 199kW boilers for predominantly large retail systems with possibly wood chip boilers, it does not cover smaller systems that do not have district heating, or many pellet boilers.

If you are in doubt over what your system efficiency is or even means, then please get in touch with us.

Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive announcement – Wood Pellet Boiler Solutions

The Renewable Heat Incentive has been announced today (9 April 2014) and is now welcoming applications for suitable installations.

The tariff for the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive has been announced as 12.2p per kw for 7 years

This equates to about £160 per kW per annum.

A 40kW boiler could earn £6400 per annum or £44,600 in total over 7 years.

For instance there is a need for a Green Deal Assessor to visit each home, and this is to check insulation in the loft and in the walls where applicable. The EPC that they undertake will be the basis for the award of the incentive. E.g. if they say you need 30,000 kWhs of heat per annum then you will be paid 12.2p X 30,000 per annum = £3660 per annum or £25,620 in total over 7 years.

How does this work for a typical installation?

For smaller boilers between 10 and 15kW we offer a choice of boilers from MCZ such as the Musa, or Extraflame such as the LP14 or a Sunsystem Pelleburn 15kW.

Wood Pellet Boiler

Pelleburn 15kW


Extraflame LP14

MCZ Musa

Boilers of this sort are available for between £3000 and £4000 depending on model. Total installation prices vary according to what is possible and what you want – however consider the following:

A stainless steel flue

A hot water tank or thermal store

Pellet stores or hoppers

These can all add in extra costs to the end bill. However typical installations are between £8 and £12k in this range. The exact amounts are determined through a survey.

You may typically earn between £3,000 and £5000 from the Renewable Heat Incentive payments for installations between 10 and 15 kW. In addition there are fuel savings. We believe these to be between 20 and 30 percent against an oil boiler of a similar efficiency. At this range of output it may well be £200-300 per annum or a further £1500 to £2000 in total.

A larger installation of £40kW may require more pellet storage, a larger pipe size, a larger buffer store or accumulator tank and will require more space. Typical costs are best discussed with us directly. Boilers of this size may typically earn £44,600 over 7 years.

Biomass boilers, Clinker, burning issues?

Biomass boilers burn “biomass”. In theory this could be burning anything that has been recently living, probably plant matter, in a boiler.

We often get questions like:

“can your boiler burn logs and pellets at the same time?”

“Can we burn any sort of wood in your boiler?”

“is it possible to use Miscanthus in your boiler?”

Oh, and:

“why do i get klinker / Clinker in my pellet boiler”

This article is intended to help you in your path towards choosing a biomass fuel that works for your situation and matching it to the sort of boiler that you may want to use.

We are happy to answer questions. Please contact us using the form on the side of the page.

Part 1 – different burning materials

It is possible to burn almost anything. However if you have ever tried to burn plastic then you know that the fumes that are given off are toxic and the gas leaves a residue that is difficult to shift. Therefore when choosing burning materials you can only use materials that will burn cleanly without leaving a difficult to clean residue.

As well as burning cleanly you also do not want to have too much ash left over to clean out of the boiler. Therefore some possible burning materials that leave behind clinker or partially burnt materials and again give you extra work to do.

Different burning materials burn best in different conditions. It is therefore likely that you need different amounts of air to burn each material. Your boiler has been tested for specific burning materials and probably commissioned for one. Unless there are specific claims by the boiler, then it is unlikely that it can burn more than one material at a time.

If you are interested in grants then the biomass materials that you consider need to be approved i.e. burning them is more beneficial to the environment than burning fossil fuels.

This means that the boilers have to be engineered to only burn “biomass” rather than a fossil fuel. Biomass in the real world is any living matter, but in the world of the RHI it means an accredited boiler where the boiler has been tested to work efficiently with a given fuel. Biomass in the domestic and small business market therefore means:

  • Logs – seasoned to at least 20% moisture for good burning and possibly less depending on the boiler
  • Pellets – dried to 10-12% moisture and made from virgin sawdust
  • Wood Chip – dried to 15% moisture
  • There are other fuels that are discussed, but less readily available e.g. cherry stones, pine kernels, olive stones etc which can burn in a small number of boilers
If you have a wood or a supply of logs then an important consideration is the moisture content of the logs. Using a moisture meter you would need to test not just the outside of the log, but the internal part of the log as well (you can split the log). The consequences of using damp materials can be condensation that causes tar and furs up the inside of your boiler. You get a less effective burn and you need to clean your boiler more often.

Part 2 Examples of different biomass boilers

Log Burning Boilers

The picture above shows the most simple log boiler (WBS). It has no electronic controls and so works with minimal electricity (just a pump). This will work with logs that are 20% moisture or less. Once the logs are loaded then the boiler will burn for about 3 to 3.5 hours and heat a large tank of water that is used as a store to heat a home. During the coldest parts of winter this would be done twice per day. The boiler is very cost effective with prices starting at around £1000.
Most log burners can only burn logs, however the WBS has been fitted with a flange and designed to burn effectively with pellets. This combination has been tested and is MCS accredited below 45kW and is applicable for the non domestic Renewable Heat Incentive up to 110 kW. We should stress that you can only burn either logs or pellets in a single moment. To change from one to the other is a simple process, but it has to be done.
The picture above is a more complex log burner WBS active. It is a few hundred pounds more than the WBS and has the addition of a controller and a fan. The advantage that this brings is that the boiler controller can respond to the heat of the water that it is producing and turn the fan off. This reduces the flame of the boiler and the water will stay at the given temperature for a period of time. The benefit this gives is that if your water store is already hot then your log load will last for longer perhaps 6 hours before it is burnt out.
This model also has the option of a pellet burner insert and is also accredited for the Renewable Heat Incentive.
The above image is a gasification boiler, Pyroburn Alpha. This burns with very dry logs. When logs burn they give off a gas called Syngas and this can be burnt and produce more heat given the opportunity. This boiler has a second burning chamber, a variable fan and a more advanced controller. The overall result is an increase in the efficiency of the burn of wood. It is a little more expensive but prices still start at around £2000 and comes in 3 sizes 18, 25 and 40kW. It cannot burn anything other than dry wood.
The Pyroburn Lambda is a more advanced model again. This has an additional lambda sensor that automatically adjusts the burning. This makes fitting easier and ensures optimal efficiency of burn. This is around £1000 more expensive.
Log boilers can vary in price and what they can do – the more controls you put in the more efficiency gains are possible, however this relies entirely on the quality and moisture content of the wood that you put in. It may be that if you are not prepared to ensure the lowest moisture content of your wood due to the extra expense it will incur then you are better off with a simpler model. If on the other hand efficiency of burning is your priority then the Pyroburn Lambda could be an excellent choice with up to 93% efficiency recorded in the field in working models.

Multifuel Biomass Boilers

Boilers such as the Combi Burn 35kW have 2 burning chambers and can swap easily from one fuel to another.
This means that you can burn wood and then revert to an automated fuel such as wood chips or wood pellets automatically. The boiler is a little larger than the above boilers, but is considerably more flexible. It is a more involved design, and the boiler costs more to make.

Wood pellet boilers

Wood pellet boilers come in lots of shapes and sizes. Most installations are wood pellets. The wood pellet is automated and therefore easier to use. Log boilers can be cheaper but require more space and suit businesses and organisations that can feed a boiler. This could be a farmer who is near to the boiler most days. For those that have to travel to work you want your boiler to provide heat automatically and this may be when you are not there.

Wood pellet boilers use a hopper to deliver pellets to a burning chamber. On domestic models boilers such as the Musa by MCZ or the LP14 by Extraflame have an internal hopper that you would need to fill by hand several times a week during winter. You would probably buy your pellets in bags.

The above diagram shows how the pellets are fed from the hopper (behind) into the burner unit on the LP14. It is a very similar process with all Italian made boilers.

The Pell burner unit mentioned earlier can be fitted onto a WBS boiler or comes as part of a Pelleburn boiler.

Here the pellets are fed from a 500l hopper into the top of the burner and then an internal screw pushes the pellets into the end of the burner where air is applied and an efficient flame results.

The pelleburn can burn up to 94% efficient. This is due to the technology used towards dedicating the burning purely on pellets.

If you have a larger system or do not want to buy bags of pellets, you can get a lorry to blow the pellets into a pellet store. The advantage of this is that you have the extra cost of the pellet store, however you may be able to get a discount on the buying price of the pellets.

Blowing pellets into a pellet store can be very effective for the home owner as they can leave the pellet system working. We find that there is an even split between those people who are quite happy loading their own pellets and those that want to have a pellet store.

If you want a pellet store then you need to consider how to feed the pellets from the store to the boiler. If you can locate the store near to the boiler then you can use another auger to feed in the pellets. Augers are reasonably cost effective and start at close to £1000 for a 3 or 4 meter auger.

If you need to locate your store further away from the pellet boiler then you will have to use a vacuum system. This involves more technology and more pipe. It will push up the cost of your installation by up to £2-5000 depending on the options you go for.

The storage units themselves are designed for either inside or outside. Inside units are a little cheaper, and outside units do not need a special store.



The above unit is an example of an internal storage system supplied by Geoplast. A larger system could store up to 9 tonnes including an auger could cost in the region of £4-5000.
The alternative is to build your own store. This is very possible, but often a similar cost.

Part 3 Buying biomass fuel

Wood, whether it is wood pellets, wood chip or logs can be a complex subject and off putting to a potential purchaser. The industry recommends only good fuel because you will either get boiler problems or you will need to clean your boiler more frequently. Part of the problem is that a beautifully packed carton of logs from a petrol station can be very expensive.

Look for good wood pellets

Wood pellets need to be approved. You can look for signs such as


This will insure that the pellets are of top quality. Pellets are made in quantity in the UK and 2 of the largest manufacturers are Brites and Verdo Renewables. There are many other manufacturers setting up and in your local area there will be a distributor that can deliver in bags or via a vehicle.
Pellet prices are about 20-30% cheaper than oil or LPG prices and prices do fluctuate, but not by as much as oil or LPG.
A1 pellets will burn well, and you also will want to know that the sawdust that created the wood pellets came from a sustainable sourced forest. An FSC scheme is put in place to ensure that the wood that is cut down is replaced.
If you examine closer you will find that the whole tree is often being used for timber through a saw mill. The sawdust is simply a byproduct.

Use a local distributor and work with them

Transporting wood pellets is expensive. Getting 1 tonne to your door at your convenience can be very expensive. Distributors work hard to deliver pellets in a system and therefore letting them know in advance what your needs are can bring your costs down.

Do shop around. There are often deals to be done. For instance you may get your 10th tonne free if you are a bulk user.

Logs need some care

Logs can also come from sustainably managed sources, however the difficulty is the moisture of the logs. If you buy them wet or dry or by tonne or volume, you want to know that the wood will work well in your boiler. For instance dry willow will burn very quickly and it is not very energy dense. Ash contains a lot more energy.

You will find that a local supplier is best as logs are heavy and cost a lot to transport.

If you are using your own logs then you will also need to consider how you are going to dry them.

Even dry logs need good storage. If left in the open seasoned timber will still absorb moisture.

When you first get a log boiler then there will be a learning process as you adjust both the cost of the wood that you buy with how well it burns.

Wood Chips also need care

 Wood chip boilers generally need some space. Wood chips can also compost and need some management. Wood chips are also expensive to transport in small volumes. In our experience wood chip boilers can only work at a lower level e.g. 30-35kw if you have a source on your doorstep.
At larger sizes e.g. 100kW + then wood chips can be much cheaper than pellets and also carry the benefit of the automation of pellets in small quanitities. So for commercial systems wood chips can be very popular. Tree surgeons, joiners, or any tradesman that works with wood chip may find that a chip boiler works very well for them.

All of the above information is quite general. We are happy to have a conversation about your specific thoughts. Please contact us using 01225 580 401

Holiday Cottage biomass June 2013 offer

Holiday cottages, bed and breakfasts, small hotels are often run by small companies in the UK. We are making an offer to install a renewable boiler that can earn £80,000 (see below) and give you a top class video that can be used online to promote your business.

The Renewable Heat Incentive provided by the government is a way of investing in your property to reduce heating costs and provide a cash stream.

Suitable boilers are “biomass” which include wood pellet boilers, log or wood boilers, wood gasification boilers or wood chip boilers.

Here is how it could work:

A 50kW boiler could use 65700 kWhs of heat in one year.

The wood pellet cost could easily be less than £3000 per annum

The oil cost (at last years price) would be over £4000 per annum

This would provide a saving of £1000 per annum

The government incentive pays 8.6p per kWh and this could be £5650 per annum for 20 years or £113,000 in total

Typically projects are paid for between years 3 and 5 leaving the owner of the property with over £6000 per annum in extra income per year.

During June we have decided to make this offer even better by offering a video service that can be used to promote the quality of your holiday let, bed and breakfast or small hotel online. The video would be 3 minutes long  and would normally be worth at least £1000.

For an example of the video please see .

Why are we doing this?

Highlight Media are well known for producing videos for the UK holiday rental market and they have evidence that videos drive more customers to internet sites and help customers confirm their holiday destination.

Renewable Living Ltd has a long association with Highlight Media and it seems a sensible way for us to help customers both reduce their costs and improve revenue.

If you are interested please use the contact form on the side of the page or phone 01225 580 401.

This offer is open for any company confirming an order during June within our 90 mile radius of our base near Devizes. This would inlcude:

Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Bristol, Avon, Bath and North East Somerset, West Berkshire, Hampshire, Dorset and parts of Devon and Oxfordshire.

We are focusing on rural properties as these tend to have the available space for a biomass boiler and have room for deliveries. The incentive to get off LPG or oil is also high.

If you are interested please use the contact form on the side of the page or phone 01225 580 401.