New higher rate of RHI encourages use of biomass energy centres

Biomass heating is an increasingly popular choice for organisations working towards a low-carbon future, as it qualifies under the Government’s renewable heat incentive (RHI).

Industry experts, however, say the latest increase in the RHI tariff from one pence per kilowatt of heat produced (p/kWh) to two p/kWh for commercial biomass boilers exceeding 1 MW will lead to a rise in the demand for prefabricated biomass energy centres.

Peter Lester, product manager at Econergy, a British Gas company, said: “The new higher RHI tariff, introduced in May 2014 offers a significant financial incentive, and the implications can already be seen, with plans underway for larger-scale projects – both retrofit and new-build – throughout the UK.”

Suitable for schools, commercial properties and rural estates, these heat systems are also being used in large district heating schemes and affordable housing projects where keeping fuel costs down and reducing carbon emissions is a priority.

Econergy is currently installing new low-carbon biomass communal heating schemes for Solihull Community Housing (pictured), in West Midlands, in its 1960s high-rise social housing stock, under the British Gas ECO programme.Solihull1

The project will use multiple ‘Ecoblox’ – Econergy’s pre-fabricated biomass fuelled energy centres – to replace tenants’ electric heating in 1,156 flats and is expected to save 100,000 tonnes of carbon over their lifetime.

Ecoblox ‘plug and play’ solutions are stand-alone structures that house a wood chip or pellet fuelled biomass boiler from Fröling, with premium mechanical and electrical components as well as the fuel store, controls, plumbing and electrics, chimney, lighting and ventilation.

Peter Lester added: “There is very little disruption during the installation phase, with no loss of heat for tenants during the works, or tenants having to move out. The new systems will greatly reduce the cost of heat, typically by up to 40 per cent, and the new smart meters and pay-as-you-go heat billing systems will help tenants manage their heating costs more efficiently.”

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