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BusinessGreen: Mythbusting Biomass for Businesses


Lots of businesses are looking to biomass as an alternative, sustainable and more environmentally friendly fuel source for their future.

With the current commercial Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in place along with the imminent introduction of the domestic Green Deal thousands of businesses and homes across the UK will be able to reap the benefits of saving on energy costs, more efficient energy technology, as well as doing their bit for the environment.

The Green Deal will be a pioneering and innovative financial scheme allowing homeowners to install energy efficiency and renewable measures without the need to pay upfront. For any financing that customers receive, the ‘golden rule' will provide the reassurance that the cost of the measures will always be covered by the savings made on the utility bill.

One of the many approved ‘measures' under the new Green Deal proposal is the installation of a biomass boiler. The Green Deal will see biomass boilers installed in more and more domestic properties as consumers start to realise the fantastic financial and environmental benefits. With the first phase of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) already open to commercial applicants, businesses can invest in biomass for their properties with many different funding options including no capital outlay.

Here we explore some of the myths around biomass and why it could be a useful and profitable improvement for your business.


Biomass is no more environmentally friendly than fossil fuel: FALSE

First of all, there are several types of biomass. The most common biomass boilers use wood as fuel in the form of either wood chip or wood pellets to provide heating.

Of course, burning wood will emit carbon dioxide, but as long as this wood is coming from a sustainably managed source where trees are re-planted to replace felled ones, we are creating a ‘closed carbon cycle' where new trees will use up the carbon dioxide emitted by burning it.

Research suggests that biomass boilers will reduce net carbon emissions by 90% which is great for the environment and a massive improvement on widely used fossil fuels. Unlike traditional fossil fuels, biofuels emit no sulphur when burned and so reduce acid rain.


Using wood biofuel means cutting down trees: TRUE/FALSE

Wood pellets are mainly produced from compressed sawdust and chippings from the parts of trees that cannot be used for timber or pulp, so these wood biofuels are made from resources that would otherwise go to waste.

Some wood pellets are produced from direct felling of tree stock within FSC approved woodlands that are fully sustainable and responsibly managed for the purpose of biomass. Often this is thinnings or weaker trees that need to be removed to enhance the viability of the woodland.

If you have a business that makes its own chippings, you could even use this biofuel yourself, provided they are properly prepared.


Biomass boilers are a nightmare to install and maintain: FALSE

With the right expertise, biomass boilers can easily be fitted into existing plumbing systems and are an excellent retrofit technology. Biomass boilers do require a flue, but if you have a chimney on your property this can usually be lined to make one for your system. They run quietly and they're easy to maintain - you just need to empty the ash every few weeks.


You need planning permission to get a biomass boiler: TRUE

If your existing chimney can't be used as a flue, you may need to apply for planning permission for the erection of a flue. Flues for biomass boilers are generally considered as ‘Permitted Development' and it is unusual for them to be rejected.

Planning Permission may also be required for any external purpose built structures i.e. fuel stores or plant rooms. The level of planning permission required is similar to that required for a shed/garage.


You don't get a return on investment right away: TRUE/FALSE

With the introduction of the RHI and lower fuel costs, businesses that invest in a biomass boiler will typically see a return on investment within 5 to 7 years. Current tariff rates are very attractive and the income from RHI is reliable anguaranteed for 20 years.

Biomass boilers are a fantastic, long term method of saving money and the environment that are suitable for and available to businesses now. With the RHI offering solutions for a wide range of commercial clients, isn't it time you looked into biomass for your business?


Provided by Duncan Renewables