Commercial Biomass Heating
Could Commercial Biomass Heating help your business?
If you have access to a supply of sustainable wood fuel and especially for estates that manage their own woodland, Commercial Biomass Heating could save you a significant amount of money compared to electricity, Oil or LPG.
What is Biomass?
Commercial Biomass Heating fuels include wood chips, pellets, logs, straw bales, wheat, miscanthus or olive pits. These fuels are burned by biomass boilers to generate heat energy and by Combined Heat and Power (CHP) units, to generate heat energy and electricity by heating the biomass fuel to produce bio-gas (see “wood gasification” below).
Biomass boilers can vary in output, from around 8kW, up to megawatt sized energy plants. Because of this biomass can be suitable for any sized application, with a single boiler heating a single small dwelling or a multi-boiler plant room heating an entire village via a district heating scheme.
Small Commercial Biomass Heating (less than 199kw), Medium Commercial Biomass Heating (between 200kw and 999kw) and Combined Heat and Power installations can be containerised. The container, or containers are delivered to site with all the associated plant equipment pre-installed, including boilers/CHP units, buffer tanks, pumps and fuel stores, allowing for rapid onsite installation, connection and commissioning.
Commercial Biomass Heating boilers can also generate heat energy for manufacturing processes, while CHP units are particularly well suited to a process that requires a constant supply of heat energy. For commercial applications wood chip is the most cost effective and convenient fuel type, being widely available to buy. If the installation is to serve an application on a country estate, with managed woodland that can produce and season their own would chip, the cost advantages become even more obvious.
Commercial Biomass Heating could save you a significant amount of money over a year compared to electricity, Oil or LPG systems.
Wood chips, can by their nature, vary in quality and suitability for use in biomass boilers. Biomass CHP units require a more consistent quality of wood chip than biomass boilers, with lower fines and moisture content. For this reason there are specific standards that define the characteristics of wood chips produced for biomass. These normative specifications define the size of the wood chip:
- P16 Specification, < 1% > 45mm, (maximum chip length 85mm)
- P45 Specification, < 1% > 63mm
- P63 Specification, < 1% > 100mm
And moisture content:
- M20 < 20% moisture
- M25 < 25% moisture
- M30 < 30% moisture
- M40 < 40% moisture
- M55 < 55% moisture
- M65 < 65% moisture
Informative specifications for wood chip include:
- Net energy content, typically in MJ/Kg or kWh/m3
- Bulk density, in kg/m3
Wood pellets have been one of the most common forms of biomass fuel used in biomass boilers. They are cylindrical in shape and made from compressed sawdust, which is often the waste product from the timber industry (e.g. sawmills). Their specification is strictly defined to ensure consistent quality. Biomass fuel has to meet CEN/TC 355 standard Wood pellets for biomass must be;
- Less than 10% moisture
- Be 6mm in diameter and less than 30mm long (20% can be up to 45mm)
- Have a bulk weight of 650kg / m3
- Ash content, max. 0.5%
- Dust content, max 2.3%
- Energy content, 49 kilowatts/kg
Wood pellets are fused by the natural lignin present in dry wood. It strengthens the wood as well as having water proofing properties. The very low moisture content helps consistent combustion efficiency, as during the burning of fuel, any water content must be evaporated before combustion can occur. This process requires energy, and therefore reduces overall system efficiency. Pellets are additionally very dense. Both these qualities make them a good source of energy.
Wood logs are probably the least common form of biomass fuel and have a more limited application. Typically, the largest log boilers have outputs of around 60kw, so are suitable for domestic or smaller commercial installations. They require greater user input as they require regular filling, however, if you have access to an approved, sustainable source of seasoned logs, they can be a very cheap way to heat a property. Additionally, combination log and pellet boilers are available which run on wood pellets if there is an interruption in the supply of logs and use wood pellets to light the boiler automatically.
Log boilers (and Combined Heat and Power units) work by a process known as wood gasification, whereby wood gas (bio-gas) is produced from the biomass fuel as it is heated in the boilers firebox. The bio-gas is then burned at high efficiency with minimal ash production or flue emissions.
The four processes of Gasification
Key steps when having a Biomass Boiler installed
When installing a biomass boiler, it is important to ensure that the proposed system meets all the client’s requirements and the heating requirements of the property, especially when installing a system to replace an oil boiler. This is why it’s important to use an experienced MCS accredited installer, such as Cedar Renewables. To make sure of a system that perfectly matches your home and your heating and hot water needs, a we will work to three key stages:
1. Pre-design assessment
At this stage we work closely with the client to familiarise ourselves with their precise requirements to determine which system will best suit your needs and the feasibility of your preferred system. With years of experience in the renewable heating industry Cedar Renewables will be able to advise you on the most beneficial system for you. If choosing a Biomass Boiler or Combined Heat and Power unit, we will be able to advise you on the best location and the installation requirements for all the associated equipment. We can produce a budgetary estimate, detailing the work required and including different options, where applicable.
2. Detailed design
Should a Biomass Boiler prove to be the most advantageous system for you, we will begin the detailed design process. This will include identifying a suitable location for the boiler and other plant equipment, including the fuel bunker, a full heat loss survey, where necessary, to determine the heating and domestic hot water requirements of your property or business. All of this information will be included in our full quotation, along with a performance report detailing the estimated energy savings and potential Renewable Heat Incentive payments that you could receive.
Our team of qualified engineers, led by one or both of our directors will be onsite to carry out the installation. All work will be completed in house, including the fitting out of the plant room, fabrication of the fuel bunker and fuel feed system, or installation of the containerised system and connection in to the pre-existing system, if required. We also complete the connection of the heating controls and final commissioning of the system. Where the new heating system is being integrating with a pre-existing system, we will supply bespoke controls. Upon completion you will be provided with a full handover pack and we may even be able to assist in the application for the RHI.
Commercial Woodchip Biomass Boilers are available with outputs of up to 999kw and two or more can be cascaded together to produce even higher outputs. Able to serve as a direct replacement for existing heating systems or being incorporated in to newly built commercial properties, biomass boilers are ideal for businesses with very high heat demands or for rural business with ready access to woodchip from managed woodland.
Additionally, Combined Heat and Power (CHP)units can produce both heat and electricity and are ideally suited to manufacturing processes.
With woodchip as the primary fuel Biomass Boilers and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) units can provide effective solutions to off-grid businesses wanting to reduce their fuel bills as well as allowing application to the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, which will pay you for the renewable heat you produce for 20 years. CHP units also attract other incentives for the electricity they produce.