05/09/2014 | Gary Hartley | Products and technology, Energy and water efficiency at home | advice, biomass, biomass boilers, Brian Horne, expertise, Renewable Heat Incentive, renewable heating, RHI, The Telegraph, wood burning, wood-fuelled heating
The domestic arm of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) has been open for business since spring this year, and several thousand households have already been approved to install green heating technologies under the scheme. Of these, air source heat pumps and solar thermal have been the most popular, but close behind are biomass boilers, with more than 1,600 approvals.
This has led to questions being asked as to whether this might be the start of something of a boom for wood-fuelled heating. Our data expert Brian Horne tried to cut through the wealth of numbers and claims about wood-fuelled heating and provide The Telegraph with a lowdown on who would benefit most from installing such a system - laying out the fact that those off the gas grid with big homes would see the biggest gains:
"If you have oil heating it is easier and cheaper to switch because you will have radiators in place already. If you’re using electricity you are likely to need to install these. Biomass boilers are quite big and heavy, so you will need space in an outhouse, cellar or utility room. You must also have somewhere to store the fuel, which is much cheaper to buy in bulk, and provide easy access for deliveries which usually come in a lorry.”
Brian emphasised that it’s still possible to make savings in more urban environments, but a dose of realism would be required before the undertaking:
"It can be possible to save money if you live in a large semi-detached, gas fuelled house in a city for example, but the savings won’t be as high.”
The knock-on effects of increasing renewable heating installations for ‘Green UK PLC’ can be significant, and some companies in the biomass heating industry have reported growth, while crediting the scheme for stimulating the market for their products. This has been seen both in companies selling the boilers doing the burning, and those making the wood pellets to be burnt.
Of course it shouldn’t be forgotten that the non-domestic arm of RHI is a major driver for this mood of optimism around low-carbon heating: it’s been open significantly longer, since 2011 in fact, and by virtue of this is several thousand installations ahead. Commercial premises from hotels and golf clubs to corporate events agencies have made a move in a more sustainable direction with the installation of biomass boilers. Wood is of course not the be all and end all when it comes to cutting costs and carbon through replacing heating systems - you can find out more about all the options available from replacing boilers to renewables on the website.