Renewable Heat Premium Payment update

Key changes have been made to the householder stream of the Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) announced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change on 20 May 2013.

For biomass boilers (Wood pellet boilers, log boilers or gasification boilers) the payment has been increased from £950 to £2000 per installation.

The government is asking for each new installation to undertake a Green Deal Assessment as part of the package.

The RHPP only applies to installations where there is no current or removed gas central heating. The only exception is solar thermal where the amount for each new installation is now £600.

Wood pellet solutions (Renewable Living Ltd) has a range of biomass boilers and is MCS accredited for both biomass and solar thermal. If you would like any further details then please get in touch using the form on the right.


Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive – update

The domestic Renewable Heat Incentive is currently waiting for its final details from the government. These are expected during the summer of this year with the scheme going live early in 2014.

Further details can be gained from here

Among the key points are that the government is reconsidering the tariffs. This includes a possibility of increased tariffs for some technologies.

Currently the domestic tariff for biomass is projected to be between 5.2 and 8.7p per kWh over 7 years. For a 20kW installation this could mean £16000 over 7 years.

This does not compare as well as the non domestic Renewable Heat Incentive where the same installation could get a similar tariff over 20 years ie in excess of £40,000. However you would probably pay for your installation and financing as per the government report depending on the boiler and facilities that you want from your boiler.

Whilst we are waiting for the government to announce what they want to do we are finding that customers are changing or tailoring their installations to suit the delay.

In discussion with customers have found that a key difference between commercial and domestic is the issue of a pellet store. On smaller installations it is easier to poor pellets more frequently into a boiler that has an internal hopper or a smallish hopper that sits next door to it. If you want to build a hopper or buy a larger hopper the hoppers can be reasonably priced. For instance an 8 tonne external hopper can be about £2000. You then have to consider how to feed the pellets from the store to the auger. This can be a further £950 for a flexible auger of 3 or 4 meters. Alternatively you can use a vacuum system, where prices can start at £2000.

The payback of a boiler without a large hopper is much greater, but you have to poor in pellets on a more regular basis. It is possible to do this in the short term with a view to putting in a larger hopper as and when the RHI is confirmed.

The other trend we have seen is that wood boilers are being more carefully considered. For instance logs can be purchased in the South West from Longleat

Log Type Price
Hardwood Logs from £130.00 per tonne Delivered
from £116.00 per tonne Collected
Softwood Logs from £101.00 per tonne Delivered
from £87.00 per tonne Collected

These prices are considerably less than wood pellets and affect the payback of an installation project.

Mass produced fuels have gone up in price over the winter with oil reaching 65p a liter as the cheapest alternative to gas.

Our WBS boiler can accept a wood pellet burner. You can start with a log boiler and upgrade to a pellet boiler at a later date.

Both the above ideas are a move to keep costs down as te main driver for everyone is cost.

At Ecobuild this year we exhibited our Pyroburn product that gives an alternative to a straight log burner.

Log gasifying boilerIt is available as an 18, 25 and 40 kW boiler. It is attractively priced and can be an alternative to the WBS active range.

The other development is the “Duo”, now a live product, we visited the factory 12 months ago to see the product in the final stages of development.

duel chamber burning boiler


You can see a Dual chamber boiler video by following the link.

So we are finding that fuel prices are increasing – and this makes biomass more attractive, and logs or alternative fuels even more so. Well priced boilers and installations are met with approval, however we would all like to see a final version of the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive confirmed soon!

Renewable Heat Incentive

The Renewable Heat Incentive domestic scheme is highly anticipated by homeowners.

Yesterday DECC made proposals for the domestic scheme and put them to consultation, to be reviewed in December.

For the first time we can see both the qualifying criteria and the tariffs that will come out in “summer” 2013.

Qualifying criteria for Renewable Heat Incentive

  • Energy Efficiency criteria: households must have a Green Deal assessment and have actioned all ‘green ticks’ that Green Deal finance is available for.
  • Microgeneration Certification Scheme: All eligible householders must have had installation by MCS accredited installers. These are industry standards relating to the standard of kit and also to the quality of installation. DECC continues to work with industry on these standards to ensurethey re robust in achieving quality systems and consumer protection.
  • Air Quality and Biomass Sustainability: Air Quality and Biomass Sustainability criteria will apply as per the consultation on the non-domestic RHI which was published on 20 July.

For biomass the proposed tariff range is between 5.2 and 8.7p per kW for a deemed property. This means that the installations would not be metered.

For a typical 3/4 bedroom house requiring 15kW of heat at 5.2p would gain £7174 over a 7 year period. This is approximately similar to a straightforward installation of a pelleburn boiler or similar. At the higher rate of 8.7p the incentive would pay about £12000 over 7 years.

For a larger property needing 28kW the lower rate of 5.2p would generate £13392 and the higher rate would be £22406.<

For biomass there would be a fuel saving as pellets are currently cheaper than both oil and gas (for more information on comparative fuel costs please see the Biomass Energy Centre). Logs are cheaper again.

The proposed rate for solar thermal is 17.3p, in addition the additional fuel costs are zero. If you were adding 2 solar panels to a biomass installation the extra equipment and installation could cost between £2-2500. From this we estimate that the incentive would pay back £210 per year and save a further £70 or £80 a year on heating costs (e.g. oil at 6p per kWh). Although an installation may struggle to pay for itself over a 7 year period the technology will work for an estimated 20 years and is the cleanest (although least favourite of the UK government) of the renewable technologies.

Wood Pellet Boiler Chimneys and Flues

Chimneys like those above, are almost always higher than the ridge of the roof that they are located on.

The reasons for this include:

  • Dispersing the particles that are in the smoke emitted from the fire
  • Giving the open fire a good draft for burning

Older buildings, like those above, can also be listed and in a conservation area. Adding a new flue to the roof can often be a planning issue. In conservation areas it can be difficult to place the flue at all without altering the view of the roof line as above.

Adding a steel flue to the view above would not look so good. A good approach is to see whether it is possible to use one of the available chimneys within the building for a wood pellet boiler.

In larger homes the answer can be to move the wood pellet boiler “outside” into an outbuilding or into its own container. The flue can be out of site and away from view or damaging the listed building. If the boiler is far enough away from the main building then the flue can be shorter. The fan in the boiler enables the good burning conditions to take place.

The above compact boiler by Wood Energy Solutions is an effective boiler that can rated at 15 or 25kW.

In smaller homes there is less room available. Boilers do have to go in a space within the home and use an available chimney. Commonly this may mean using a Wood Pellet Boiler chimney within a kitchen area, using a chimney at an end of a house and siting outside, or sometimes siting within a living area.

Living area boilers are characterized by being more compact. The boilers have top loading hoppers and they are similar in size to oil boilers or older style gas boilers.

Boilers such as the LP14 by Extraflame are white goods and look similar to other kitchen or utility room items. Within compact ranges outputs of between 10 and 30 kW are typical.

Other boilers are more decorative and have a front glass view of the pellets burning.

This Suite boiler from MCZ can comes with a ceramic finish.

Extraflame are the largest manufacturer in Italy and produce over 100,000 units per year of pellet stoves and boilers for Europe. Italy is the largest market for pellet stoves and boilers in Europe.

The above Duchessa is a popular model.

The living area boilers with cladding and a view of the flame are rated between 9 and 24kW. This is ample for most homes e.g. 4 bedroom detached.

If you are interested in further details on how a wood pellet boiler may be able to work with your home or building then do contact us using the form on the right hand side.

Log Burning Boilers or Wood Pellet Boilers?

If you are considering “biomass” as a heating system the most obvious choices are between log burning boilers and wood pellet boilers.

For some the clear advantages of log boilers are:

  1. Cost of installation
  2. Cost of fuel
  3. Sustainable use of wood

For others the clear advantages of pellets are:

  1. Automation of heating
  2. Higher efficiency
  3. Pellets are a waste product
  4. Space saving

Cost of Boiler

Log boilers such as the WBS active are MCS accredited and burn wood up to 90% efficiency. The boilers start at at a little over £1000 (20kW WBS) and this is a lot cheaper than the Pelleburn wood pellet boiler that starts at £3500.

Cost of Extra Water Heating

Wood pellet boilers modulate. This means that they can adjust to produce the  amount of hot water that you need to store for heating. Log boilers need to heat water when they are burning otherwise there is nowhere for the heat to go. This is often in the range of 30-50l per kW.

For instance a 20kW log boiler will need to heat 600-1000l of hot water.

You could choose an accumulation tank or a thermal store to do this.

An accumulation tank or “buffer store” can used to store the heat. They are well insulated and once heated can distribute the heat without the need for the boiler to be “on”. A 1000l buffer store is nearly 1 meter diameter by 2 meters tall. This does mean that you need to find space for this. The buffer store will be an extra £1000+ and there are extra plumbing costs in installation.

A thermal store can incorporate a hot water tank and heating hot water in one tank. A “tank in tank”. Assuming you need hot water for baths and showers, then you will need a hot water tank. Some houses already have these, some do not. Others are old and need replacing. A thermal store is a good solution if there is a need for a new hot water tank.

Wood pellet boilers do also benefit from the use of accumulation however they can burn efficiently for shorter periods of time and so need less water to heat. On smaller systems it is possible to work without one, however your boiler may need to come on more often. Using an accumulation tank may prolong the life of your parts.

In summary – log boilers need more accumulation than pellet boilers, and this will increase costs of installation. This will vary depending on the installation.

Space Needs

Wood pellet boilers that are completely automated generally infers a large pellet store that can be filled. This can take up a lot of space e.g. 10m3. This has to be dry and purpose built. Whilst there are pellet stores that can be outside for most homes the choice is between a top loading boiler (ie no storage) e.g. an MCZ Musa , an indoor pellet hopper e.g. Pelleburn or a purpose built hopper. This means that the storage needed varies in size depending on the location and budget. For those tight on space a 1.5m by 1m space is generally more than enough.

For logs the space is larger for the smallest boilers. The boiler is larger, needs more space for a larger flue, and accumulation tank. This is typically 2.5m2

Cost of Fuel

Often the most immediately available fuel is more expensive on the internet. Pellets do range in price, but are frequently £200 per tonne or 4.5p per kWh. (Oil prices were 65p per liter (6.5p per kwh in March and are currently 53p per liter, 5.3p per kWh)

Logs vary more in price and this also varies considerably regionally. For those with a ready supply there is the cost of cutting logs ie your time, or alternatively you can get fuel delivered often at £90-100 per tonne 

This makes the cost of logs about half the price of pellets.

Efficiency and Sustainability

A WBS log boiler can be 90% efficient and a pelleburn pellet boiler can be 94% efficient. Some of the efficiency difference can be put down to pellets being dryer and only pulp, ie no bark.

If your logs are from your immediate surroundings then there is no transport or significant processing costs. In addition some pellets have been artificially dried. Whilst not significant, pellets are transported and there is a manufacturing cost that involves drying wood pulp.

If your logs are the result of forestry or woodland management and the wood is offcuts ie cannot be used for other things, then it is sustainable. This is also true for pellets e.g. if as part of making paper there is sawdust and pulp left over then this waste product can make pellets.

There is a strong argument for logs in terms of sustainability and transport. Unfortunately this does not work for many people due to the availability of local woodland management for our homes and logs are not economic to transport.

Renewable Heat Incentive

Currently the non domestic Renewable Heat Incentive pays the same incentive for log boilers as pellet boilers.

A 30kW log boiler May get RHI payments of  30 (Size of boiler) X 8.3 (higher tariff) X 1314 hours = £3271 per annum.

For an installation of logs or pellets costing between £7-10,000 this would payback in under 3 years before you take into consideration the lower cost of fuel.

A Possible Compromise

If you are finding it difficult to decide whether you want logs or pellets. For many the logs do appeal but there is the extra work involved and will you be happy doing this?

The WBS range of log boilers all come ready to fit a pellet burner ie you can convert your boiler over at a later stage. The pp and pelle ranges of burner are easy to fit and with some minor adjustments to your settings you can be burning pellets.

For more information do get in touch with us using the form on the right hand side or by phoning 01225 580 401

Renewable Heat Incentive – Farms

Renewable Heat Incentive eligibility is not clear for farms and similar organisations. However we believe that it is possible for a farm to qualify for the non domestic Renewable Heat Incentive to heat their home and an acceptable farm building as part of a district heating system.

Ofgem provide a detailed guide Ofgem Website and helpline support 0845 200 2122 to clarify questions and the information here is a guide. Each scheme would have to be approved by Ofgem.

Difficulty 1 – Business rates

Farmers do not pay business rates and this is the way that Ofgem defines a “building”. Therefore applications will have to show that the building is indeed a building that is exempt from business rates and used for agricultural use e.g. farm office. This could be a letter from the local council.

Difficulty 2 – Complex heating systems

If a farm house and office are 2 buildings then they are almost certainly separated and will need some form of well insulated underground heating pipe. There is a small heat loss from this, and as such the payments need to be based on the delivered heat. In order to make this happen meters need to be placed inside the relevant buildings where the pipe has to travel between one building an another.

If there is a back up heating source, such as an oil boiler, then then the heat produced from this will also have to be measured, as will the heat produced from the renewable source e.g. log boiler.

Therefore is is possible for 3 or 4 class 2 heat meters to be needed as part of an installation. This will increase costs accordingly.

For instance a 20kW log boiler in a “complex” system may cost between £8-12k to supply and install.

If a farm used 1314 hours of heat during a year they could gain over £43,000 (1314*8.3*20)

If you consider a farm may be in an off gas area and be making significant gains by burning biomass rather than oil or LPG then this is an excellent investment.

Renewable Heat Incentive Tariff – Non Domestic Adjustment

Here’s a quick rundown of the renewable heat incentive tariff adjustment for non domestic heating.

Small commercial biomass tariffs have been adjusted as of 1/4/12.

From the previous rate of 7.9p the new rate is 8.3p for the first 1314 hours.

For instance if you installed a district heating scheme for an agricultural building and a farm house needing a 20 kW log boiler then your payments could be:

20 * 8.3 * 1314 (hours used) = £2181 per annum for 20 years or £43625 in total

The log boiler would need to be MCS accredited, along with the installation.

A standard log boiler installation tends to be between £7 and 10k.

If the installation is “complex” then there would be extra metering costs that would have to be taken into consideration.

Renewable Heat Incentive Update

The Renewable Heat Incentive programme has been updated. Firstly through a DECC ministerial statement on 11 June 2012.

The Renewable Heat Incentive Update Changes

This stated that current uptake of the non domestic RHI seems to be working ie there has has not been a deluge of applications. They have put in controls so that the monies do not suddenly run out like the FIT’s.

Greg Barker has also confirmed “longer term support” for households and said that the plans announced in March are on track.

The RHI has also been approved by the EU commission to be expanded to Northern Irleand. The scheme, which will be managed by the Northern Ireland Executive, will operate for maximum 20 years and will be worth an estimated £184 million (approximately €227 million), of which £25 million have already been allocated for the first five years. Its target is to reach a level of 10% of renewable heat by 2020. This implies an increase of 1.3 TWh over and above the 0.3 TWh of renewable heat currently produced in the territory.

Wood Pellet Boilers – Up to 250 kW

Wood Pellet boilers from NES are robust and up to 40 kW. They also produce a range  of wood burning boilers WBS Active that have a burner flange that allows for a pellet burner unit to be attached.

The WBS Magna is a 250 kW boiler that can burn logs or pellets. You do need to purchase the pellet burner and feed separately. This gives you the flexibility of operation.

This could be ideal for schools, hotels, or larger office spaces in a rural environment.