wood heating in rural areas

Added: March 12 2008

Biomass heating is not a new phenomenon, of course all heating was ‘biomass’ before the industrial revolution, and with concerns over climate change coinciding with a new generation of highly efficient equipment biomass heating is making a comeback!

To compare costs of biomass we need to know the ‘energy density’ of fuels, so how many kWh different fuels produce. The table bellow compares all common fuels in the same units.

· 1 litre of heating oil = 10kWh

· 1 litre of LPG = 7.2kWh

· 1 therm of natural gas = 29.1kWh

· 1 kg of wood pellets (92%dry matter) = 5.13kWh

· 1 kg of wood chip (65%dry matter) =3.61kWh

· 1 kg cereals (15%dry matter) =4.61kWh

· 1 kW electricity = 1 kWh

From this we can compare, for instance, wood pellets with heating oil knowing that if 1 litre of oil costs the same as 2kg of wood pellets then the heating for the property will cost the same amount (roughly!). This assumes that the efficiency of both boilers is the same, and perhaps this is where the modern generations of machines have improved, with many being over 90% efficient.

For the rural community the choices for biomass will be wood, (either logs, chip or wood pellets) arable by products such as rape straw, or perhaps energy crops such as myscanthus. Cereals, particularly oats are very cost effective even with the recent rise in prices.

Log boilers

The latest generation of log boilers achieve efficiency levels of 90% or above, and are perfect for running a central heating system, usually in conjunction with a thermal store. They would usually need filling once a day.

Wood pellet stoves and boilers

Again the efficiency of modern machines are above 90%. Both boilers and stoves can run central heating systems and are a perfect alternative to oil or LPG, usually offering a saving on running costs as well as reductions on CO2 emissions.

Some machines offer the option of being able to burn wood pellets, myscanthus pellets, and cereals and even logs. At present burning grain would produce savings of over 30% compared to heating oil.

Wood chip boilers

Usually wood chip machines are more expensive than wood pellet machines as the feed mechanism into the boiler is more complex. The fuel is much cheaper than the other alternatives and so they tend to become more cost effective as the heat demand increases.

Environmental impacts are also an incentive for many customers. The technology is carbon neutral so could cut the co2 emissions for an average home by up to 70%. Because of the CO2 reductions many machines qualify for the Low Carbon building program for 30% of the cost of the boiler to a maximum of £1500.

For further information please contact us at TRECO

www.treco.co.uk or give the TRECO office a call on 0845 1 30 90 12