When you think of renewable energy the first images that pop into your head are probably of spinning wind turbines and roofs blanketed in solar panels, but there’s another another technology that’s quietly generating over a third of the UK’s renewable energy.
Bioenergy is produced from materials made from biological sources, ranging from wood chips to sugarcane, and was recently described in a Daily Telegraph article as ‘key to the UK’s energy future’.
One important form of bioenergy is biomass heating: thermal energy produced from burning plant material, such as wood. This can provide heating at as little as a fifth of the cost of electricity, but the real beauty of biomass is that the process is carbon-neutral. As trees and other plants grow they absorb CO2, and it is only this CO2 that’s released when they’re burned. In fact, even taking processing into account, biomass fuels release 90% less carbon pollution than natural gas through its life cycle.
What’s more, biomass can be sourced locally from almost any area of the UK, it generates lower levels of acid rain-producing atmospheric pollutants, and it provides a strong economic incentive to to properly manage our country’s woodlands.
Modern biomass boilers are hi-tech marvels, a far cry from the old fashioned ‘wood-burning stoves’. Although the basic ideas have been around for thousands of years, 21st Century technology has now enabled biomass boilers to be up to 91% efficient!
As biomass boilers are highly automated, they need only the barest of attention – they are self-igniting, self-cleaning and even feed their own fuel automatically. Microprocessor control ensures the optimum rate of combustion and fuel use to meet heat demand. They can alert the owner when the ash-tray needs emptying or fuel restocking – typically only once every six to twelve weeks. Biomass boilers are fully compatible with Heat Genius, so you can reduce your wood fuel consumption by not heating empty rooms.
Biomass boilers should be installed with a large buffer tank, which ensures that a steady supply of hot water is constantly available and heat can be distributed to your heating system easily and efficiently.
Shaw Renewables, a leading installer of biomass boilers, says that biomass boilers can be a great option for heating larger properties, if the system is designed correctly. Andrew Shaw, a Director of the company, told us that “A typical installation may be around 100kW in size and completely eliminate the heating bills of farms, hotels and large domestic properties, but we can provide systems all the way up to 1MW for large-scale use. We don’t subscribe to a ‘one size fits all’ philosophy, so all of our bespoke systems are designed to perfectly fit the needs of each customer.”
Find out more about the advantages of biomass heating on the Shaw Renewables web site.
Heat Genius is committed to bringing you news about interesting green technologies and services we come across. This article has been produced in collaboration with Shaw Renewables, who are fellow members of the Comarketing Club.