D-ENERGi’s 5 top tips for biomass!
Posted on Feb 2, 2016
If you intend to get an automated wood heating system to replace a your existing boiler and heating system, forget using a log boiler or a woodstove. These won’t be for you. If you don’t object to a little daily loading up with logs and de-ashing, and if your lifestyle permits you to regularly tend to such tasks, then this is a good option for you.
If you are lucky enough to have your own healthy supply of logs and you fit the criteria of Tip 1, a log boiler can be a really worthwhile investment with return rates of between 12-20% IRR.
An important biomass tip is to always begin with the fuel when looking at getting a wood heating boiler. A key first step is to decide whether you want to use logs, wood pellets, or wood chips. Each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Pellets are the most convenient and compact of the three, and they are still made and delivered in a carbon-friendly way. They are, however, more expensive than the other two options. Also consider whether you can get your fuel delivered simply and economically. If the only way to get fuel into a storage silo is via a chipper (£35,000 or £250 per day), manually, or via a pallet truck and builder bags, prices can bump up significantly and become quite considerable.
Make sure to get advice on wood fuel handling, choice, and design from an independent and experienced person. Around half of wood heating system issues arise because a mistake has been made in relation to the fuel used.
Almost all wood boiler systems will operate better if they are linked to an accumulator tank. This aids to balance out the peaks and troughs of demand and to provide a little more gusto during the peak loads.
Over £10bn could be paid in incentives for non-domestic biomass boilers despite a government study showing they are less efficient than thought and won’t help the UK meet clean energy targets.
The UK has pushed biomass boilers as a technology to help meet an EU target of getting at least 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, incentivising businesses and individuals to switch to them in return for payments under the RHI.
But “under-performance appears widespread in the UK biomass heat sector,” the paper admits, adding that the efficiency shortfall “also means emissions will be higher than laboratory test results suggest”.
Just £128.9m had been paid through the RHI as of November 2014, but the final cost in public money could be over £10bn because those installing biomass boilers under the scheme receive annual payments for several years, Decc’s own impact assessment shows. So far, most RHI payments appear to have been banked by wealthy landowners.
To be promoted as a renewable source of energy, the biomass boilers need to have a 85% efficiency rate for converting fuel to energy – but the Decc study reveals the average efficiency rate of installed boilers was 66.5%.
The target rate may be unreachable, as the report found that the biomass heating systems surveyed “can only achieve levels around 76% (on average)”.
Yet no field studies of biomass boiler efficiency were carried out before the RHI’s introduction because Decc viewed biomass as an established and internationally successful technology.
US electric carmaker Tesla Motors aims to move into the energy sector as it launches batteries that can power homes and businesses as it attempts to expand beyond its vehicle business. D-ENERGi director Zico Ahmed said “This is really an exciting innovation within the energy sector, the battery device would allow consumers to get off the power grid or bring energy to remote areas that are not on a grid.” Tesla plans to start shipping the units to installers in the US by this summer, and plans are underway for a launch in the UK early next year. In a highly anticipated event near Los Angeles, Mr Musk said the move could help change the “entire energy infrastructure of the world”. “Tesla Energy is a critical step in this mission to enable zero emission power generation,” the company said in a statement. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery unit would be built using the same batteries Tesla produces for its electric vehicles, analysts said. The system is called Powerwall, and Tesla will sell the 7kWh unit for $3,000 (£1,954), while the 10kWh unit will retail for $3,500 (£2,275) to installers. Energy comparison firm USwitch estimates that one kWh can power two days of work on a laptop, a full washing machine cycle or be used to boil a kettle 10 times.