Due to the physical properties of the fuel, the system footprint is also larger for biomass plant than an equivalent capacity fossil fuel fired system; space is also required for fuel delivery, storage and transfer. A well designed and implemented solution for the delivery, storing and handling of the fuel is important, and will help to save money over the boiler’s lifetime.
It is important to use a fuel which is available, reliable, accessible and appropriate for the job. The key characteristics of a biomass fuel include its moisture content (which affects its calorific value) and particle size or grade. Costs vary dependent on market availability, quality, form and proximity of fuel source to point of use. For businesses that don’t produce such fuels as by-products, there is a wide range of fuel suppliers in the UK. Contact the Biomass Energy Centre (part of the Forestry Commission) to locate suppliers.
Seek expert advice to ensure that any system will comply with legislation such as the Clean Air Act(1993), Building Regulations and local planning rules.
In Britain there are a number of ‘smoke control areas’ in which only authorised fuels can be burned. Check if your area is a smoke control area on the Defra website.
Find practical advice on the installation of biomass.
The capital cost of a biomass boiler is dependent on the size, the sophistication of the controls, and the fuel type used. Biomass boilers are best suited to being operated relatively continuously and, in general, the longer the annual run hours of the boiler the more cost effective it will be.
Biomass systems will be eligible for payments under the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive. Depending on the type of system being replaced (gas, oil, coal, etc.) typical paybacks are between 3 and 9 years. Note – the cost of fuel can be zero if a business produces a combustible by-product