Biomass installations have dominated the commercial RHI in its early stages, but questions remain as to whether it will be as popular under the domestic version of the scheme.
For homeowners living off the gas mains or those looking to put down roots for the foreseeable future, the recent addition of RHI payments for seven years makes biomass a very attractive option.
The tariff level for biomass boilers has been set at 12.2p/kWh, and this will contribute hugely to a decision to opt for a biomass boiler in new build or replacement heating system infrastructure. It brings the option of a biomass boiler driven system into the equation for homeowners, private and social landlords’, third party owners of heating systems and the self-build fraternity.
Wood pellet boilers are fully automatic, have better performance and reliability than traditional solid fuel appliances, and behave more like gas or oil boilers. They use advanced controls that cleverly regulate the amount of fuel being delivered to the burner to match the heat demand of the boiler.
The typical installation cost of a pellet boiler is more than for a standard fossil-fuelled appliance, but if you look at the life cycle costs – installation, fuel and maintenance over the boiler’s lifetime – the potential for savings, particularly with the RHI tariff income every quarter, can be substantial. If the biomass boiler is to replace an oil boiler for example, Grant has calculated that the savings in fuel costs should be in the region of 34%.
Wood pellet boilers are generally larger than traditional oil or gas boilers and will require a hopper to store the fuel, sited adjacent to the boiler. Usually designed to be located in a garage, store or outhouse building, it’s important to consider its position prior to installation. In addition, ventilation is a crucial factor for the appliance and the flue in order to ensure that it operates safely and efficiently. If a boiler has an automated cleaning cycle, this will result in temporarily in an increase in noise levels – an additional factor that should be considered when selecting a location for the boiler.
The pellet storage is available in capacities from 3 to 6 tonnes. Pellets can be auger fed from storage hoppers into the intermediate pellet store supplied as standard with the boiler.