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Does anyone have a biomass boiler?

(12 Posts)
littleredsquirrel Tue 04-Mar-14 10:25:31

The feed in tariff starts this month and we have a free wood supply (although not quite sure how much wood we would need). We are currently on oil heating and the house is a large six bedroom property with a separate office building and annexe.

Is it a no brainer? Does anyone know how I'd work out how much we'd get under the feed in tariff? I know we use about 8000kw of electricity each year and we spend about £2k on oil.

PigletJohn Tue 04-Mar-14 10:46:19

important thing is to look at the cost and consider what the payback would be compared to investing that amount of money in something else.

RCheshire Tue 04-Mar-14 11:18:06

Do you mean the Renewable Heat Incentive rather than feed-in tariff?

I was looking into RHI at the weekend and it appears close to being a no-brainer, particularly if you're oil boiler is at the stage of being replaced.

www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Generating-energy/Getting-money-back/Renewable-Heat-Incentive-RHI

https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/environmental-programmes/domestic-renewable-heat-incentive-domestic-rhi

The domestic payments are for 7 years at a rate of 12.2p/kWh for biomass. I worked out that if we were replacing an oil boiler and claiming under the scheme then the purchase & installation costs would pretty much be covered, with the benefit of cheaper heating.

My biggest concern would be a change in policy/compensation during the 7yr window if budgets/priorities change - I'm not sure what level of commitment is being made.

Also a quick Google didn't convince me of the reliability of some of the biomass boilers. Not putting too much weight on that at this stage.

littleredsquirrel Tue 04-Mar-14 11:33:00

Yes sorry I did mean the RHI payment. As I understand it changes can't be made retrospectively and so whilst the payments can be stopped for new entrants into the scheme, those already signed up would continue to receive the payments.

For us it looks like it could be a really good option since we have about seven acres of woodland. I have no idea how to work out how much wood it would use though.

RCheshire Tue 04-Mar-14 11:53:54

The boilers take pellets, chips or logs. Assuming you'd be looking at the log ones? If we went down that road then we'd be looking at an auto-filling pellet boiler. Concern though that the price of wood/pellets may continue to increase - and constrained by a limited number of pellet suppliers.

With your free wood it does look like a very good solution. I'd just look into the reliability of the various boilers and whether you have someone local who could service/repair the boiler as needed.

GrendelsMum Tue 04-Mar-14 12:35:07

Something our neighbours warned me about is that with their system, if you get a power cut, you lose heating. They've therefore decided to top up with a woodburning stove for back up.

RCheshire Tue 04-Mar-14 12:39:28

This has lots of useful info https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/212089/Domestic_RHI_policy_statement.pdf

Look at 'Fuel Sustainability' (pages 23 & 24) - you'd need to show that your supply was sustainable.

Also look at the pre-requisites for assessment and completing insulation requirements.

Despite any up-front spend I'd be very surprised if this wasn't a good idea for you (& us for that matter).

Good point by GrendelsMum. Same as for Heat Pumps - more reliance on electricity. Note that you could also keep your oil boiler as a backup - see point 82 on page 22 of the above doc.

littleredsquirrel Tue 04-Mar-14 12:46:16

Mind you Grendelsmum many boilers won't work without electricity. Our oil boiler won't work when we get a power cut.

We already have a wood burning stove and are about to put in another although the space isn't big enough to have one with a back boiler. (We've just had some trees taken down and have about 10 cubic metres of wood stacked and seasoning).

Didn't think about keeping the oil boiler as a back up, that's a really good idea.

PigletJohn Tue 04-Mar-14 12:52:09

you could get a camping-type voltage converter on a car battery, or a generator, if you are prone to power cuts. It only has to run the controls, timer and pump, so not much load. In this case it is convenient to have the boiler on a plug and socket rather than hard-wired as is more usual.

littleredsquirrel Tue 04-Mar-14 13:24:17

Lots to think about!

RCheshire Tue 04-Mar-14 14:28:39

I think the key thing (if you decide to go ahead) is to make sure you tick all the boxes to qualify for RHI:

- Is the boiler approved?
- Is the installer approved?
- Is the wood supply approved?
- etc etc

It's a major up-front investment and it would be more than upsetting to find that you'd missed something that prevent claiming many thousands through RHI.

Alwayscheerful Wed 05-Mar-14 22:12:52

We have a biomass boiler, a Windhager, it uses 6mm wood pellets, it cost u£18k and works like a dream, no gas here and we are trying to avoid oil.

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