Frequently asked questions about biomass
To find out more about Rural Energy and biomass, take a look at some of the most frequent questions we're asked by our customers..
If you can’t find the answers to your questions here, just contact us
Rural Energy is a leading UK biomass heating solutions expert. We design, supply, install, commission, service and maintain biomass boiler systems.
We also offer biomass training courses and consultancy services. Read our What we do page which gives you more details about these and the other services we offer.VIEW LESS
Rural Energy’s services are available throughout mainland UK in England, Scotland and Wales.
To check that we service your area, just give us a call on 0203 189 0654.VIEW LESS
Our mission is to make sure your biomass project works for you. With an expert team and top quality equipment we can work as main contractor for the entire project or simply as biomass equipment suppliers.
Rural Energy provides a full end-to-end, turn-key service for clients or projects that require it. We support our clients from initial enquiry all the way through completion and beyond with maintenance and service contracts.VIEW LESS
Rural Energy holds a number of Accreditations, certifications and awards.
Established in 2002, Rural Energy is one of the longest running biomass boiler suppliers and installers in the UK. We are a frontrunner in engineering turnkey biomass solutions for private end users, commercial businesses, the construction supply chain, central and local government and industrial applications.
Rural Energy has a vast portfolio of clients and the company has facilitated and managed the successful completion of over 1,200 biomass projects in its first 12 years; this includes sales of 440 individual biomass boilers in 2014. Our experience ranges from academic campuses to churches, poultry farms to office buildings, emergency services buildings to hotels, golf courses to industrial estates, and many more. Check out our Case Studies for more insight.VIEW LESS
We offer a range of biomass boiler equipment and related parts, fuel storage and containerised systems, maintenance contracts, design consultancy and training.
See our Products pages for more details.VIEW LESS
Rural Energy runs several biomass training courses as well offering bespoke options. We also offer industry approved CPD seminars and are happy to attend a client’s site to present these.
Rural Energy offers turnkey biomass heating solutions as well as supplying biomass boiler and related fuel feed equipment as a distributor to approved Partners. We are the exclusive mainland UK distributor for one of Austria’s leading biomass boiler brands; Herz. You can find out more about the Herz products on the Product pages of our website.
Rural Energy also offers a range of Industrial Biomass Boilers which would be recommended on a project-by-project basis.
For containerised biomass requirements, we have a range of plug-and-play solutions that fit virtually all site variables. All our packaged plant room products are built and fitted out off-site, minimising possible on-site disruption, and then delivered and connected up to the existing heat distribution system. They all have the option of a fuel store included in the design, which can be for either wood chips or wood pellets.
The Trade Pod is designed specifically for 199kW heating requirements, has the smallest footprint of our range and is an extremely affordable solution. You can use an existing building or silo as a fuel store, cutting out the cost of separate wood repository.
The Heat Pod is a more customisable option. Biomass boilers from 20kW up to 500kW can be installed in these Pods, for whichever wood fuel you require. Available in different sizes, configurations and extras, such as wood cladding or a colour-matching exterior, these Heat Pods are attractive and provide a solution for sites with limited building space for the renewable heating system.
The Heat Hub gives clients with a larger or more complex heating requirement a fantastic solution. Able to house a boiler up to 1.5MW and with a selection of external fuel stores available, it is the perfect choice for projects with a District Heating aspect.
We also have a range of Wood Fuel Storage options suitable for all types of biomass installation. This includes bespoke designs for external stores, cylindrical pellet silos, octagonal hoppers, manual and hydraulic lifting lids for underground stores, flexible bag silos and hook bin solutions.
We also provide existing clients with maintenance and service contracts, which you can read more about in our Servicing pages.VIEW LESS
If you are thinking about installing biomass to heat your property or have a requirement to provide renewable heating for an upcoming project, there are numerous benefits to choosing a Herz biomass boiler solution. Efficiency, physical footprint, automation, modification options and emissions, government and legislation compliance are just a few reasons why a Herz boiler could be the right choice for you.
With minimal human interaction required, except for checks and regular maintenance, these boilers suit virtually any type of application; from domestic properties to churches, hospitals to breweries, schools to transportation hubs.
The intuitive and user-friendly T-Control touch-screen control unit makes the Herz boilers even more manageable and, with remote monitoring options, can even be accessed via computer or mobile device.
MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) accreditation and Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) payment scheme approval are additional advantages that could see you financially benefit from opting for a Herz product.VIEW LESS
Austria-based Herz has been manufacturing plumbing and heating parts since 1896. With over a century in the industry, their ethos for producing quality products and dedication to innovation in order to meet the needs of their customers and partners is exceptional.
As a leading biomass boiler manufacturer in Europe for decades, the Herz product range is one of the most efficient, automated and safe. Tested to not just European standards but also UK and other individual country legislation requirements, Herz biomass boilers meet or surpass all current UK emission requirements.
Herz’s reputation in the European biomass industry is exceptional and the company has a long history of creating modern, fit-for-purpose products. The company has a proven track record of constructing biomass boilers, fuel feed systems and associated parts to the highest standards, and boasts some of the longest-running medium-sized biomass installations throughout the continent.VIEW LESS
If you are an MCS accredited company looking to expand your biomass offering or start up in the biomass sector, we would love to hear from you.Call 0203 189 0667 to speak to our Partner Network Team now, or look at the How to become a Partner page for more information.
There are numerous benefits to becoming a Partner and being Trained on the installation of Herz biomass boilers, which we will happily discuss with you at your convenience.VIEW LESS
In order to provide domestic and smaller-scale commercial customers (end-users) the best possible service and price, Rural Energy has a nationwide network of trained and approved Partners to deal with these projects.
One of the benefits of this is that you can deal with a company that is more locally based to you/your project, making it more efficient when site visits, meetings and so forth are required, even at early stages.
Another benefit is that, especially later in the biomass project timeline, travel costs will be much lower and engineer accommodation expenses may not even be necessary, saving you money.
A major advantage for you as the client is that most of Rural Energy’s Partners have a history in mechanical, electrical and/or plumbing industries. As such, many can provide you with a full turn-around solution that includes any pipework installations or upgrades, electrical wiring of extraneous parts and even some building work that Rural Energy, as a biomass installer, would not take on direct.
This excludes the need for additional subcontractors to be brought on and, again, keeps the cost of your project down whilst ensuring you deal with a single lead company: our Partner.
Contact Us today to find out who your local Herz biomass installer is and discuss your heating project.VIEW LESS
The uptake of biomass heating systems over the last few years has markedly increased and the Herz brand is an extremely popular biomass boiler product. By having qualified Partner companies with fully-trained engineers, Rural Energy can better meet the demand for clean, renewable heating in the UK.
The increase in large-scale commercial biomass roll-outs and public sector frameworks requires Rural Energy to optimise the use of its workforce. This is particularly true for the engineers and project managers who deal with the installation and overseeing of extensive biomass projects that can take several months to complete.
The resulting distribution arm of our business, with approved Partner companies looking after our end-user clients, results in a larger team of stakeholders able to look after the best interests of our customers.
Call our Partner Network Team for more insight on 0203 189 0677.VIEW LESS
Rural Energy has a range of Partners across the UK and will always endeavour to ensure the best-suited company deals with your particular project. Often this will be the Partner based closest to you.
Rural Energy will discuss your individual project requirements with the most local and appropriate Partners for your scheme before allocating the opportunity. This ensures that they have the time and resources to provide the support you require from start to finish. You will then be put in touch with that Partner.
To talk to us about your project and find out who your local Herz biomass boiler installer is contact our Partner Network Team on 0203 189 0677.VIEW LESS
All of Rural Energy’s partners are MCS certified businesses with a history in a relevant business field, such as alternative renewable energies or plumbing backgrounds. Partner engineers are required to go through Rural Energy's training courses in order to comply with the high Herz biomass installer standards.
Partners are selected, vetted, approved, trained and signed off only when judged thoroughly capable of installing and commissioning the Herz range of biomass boilers and dealing with customers professionally and courteously.
The standard training courses that are available from Rural Energy that Partners must complete can be found in the Training web pages.VIEW LESS
We would always, in the first instance, negotiate with the Partner to provide the best possible service to our clients and rectify any issues with the customer themselves.
Should there be an extreme case in which the client and Partner simply cannot come to a mutually appeasing conclusion, for whatever reason, Rural Energy will step in and deal with the client and Partner appropriately.
Complaints against Partners are taking extremely seriously and anyone experiencing issues with the company working on behalf of Rural Energy should complete the Contact Us form for the attention of the Partner Network Manager.VIEW LESS
The definition of biomass is: organic material from a living, or recently living, organism and in the case of ‘biomass wood fuel’ refers to plant matter.
Biomass contains energy and, when burnt in a biomass boiler, the combustion process raises the temperature of the water that flows through the heat exchangers to create hot water and heat through the distribution system.
Related to this, biogas is usually a mixture of the gasses that organic matter produces when breaking down in the absence of oxygen and is also used as an energy source.VIEW LESS
Burning wood and other biomass as fuel is classed as carbon neutral; plants and trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere when they are growing and release the same amount when they burn or decompose naturally on the forest floor.
Read more about this topic in our blog Why is it 'green' to burn wood?VIEW LESS
Depending on the wood fuel used (wood chip or wood pellet usually) and the fossil fuel available in your region, there can be significant savings by opting for biomass.
Wood pellets are more expensive than wood chips as fossil fuels are used in the manufacturing process and so the price traces any cost changes to gas and oil, to some extent. Pellets (at 8% moisture content) typically provide 1 kilowatt hour of heat for £0.04375 (4.375p/KwH) and chip (at 35% moisture content) is around £0.034 (3.4p/kWh).
LPG is almost double the wood chip cost per kilowatt hour at 6.4pence, domestic heating oil equates to 3.9p and electricity is at a whopping 12p! The financial benefits to heating your property with renewable biomass wood fuel are clear for anyone off gas!
Compared to domestic mains gas at 4p/kWh, biomass is still quite competitive. Commercial mains gas at 3.2p/kWh is still comparable with wood chip costs if extremely dry (50%) which is only 2.4p/kWh.
* Figures supplied by Forest Fuels and correct at time of publishing (May 2015).VIEW LESS
Biomass is the perfect alternative to LPG - If you are off-grid and reliant on oil, LPG or even coal, a biomass heating system could save you money.
It is an ideal alternative to traditional fossil fuel heating, with more affordable fuel bills and an additional payback incentive from the Government through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.VIEW LESS
Biomass wood pellets and wood chips are a highly affordable fuel resource due to the abundance of available woodland matter throughout the UK and Europe.
The average price of wood chip is around £110 per tonne (G50 W35 chip classification) and for wood pellet is £220 per tonne but can be as high as £250*.
* Figures supplied by Forest Fuels and correct at time of publishing (May 2015).VIEW LESS
Some biomass fuel is imported from Europe and Canada where the woodland matter is of extremely good quality. However, we do encourage our clients to find a local fuel supplier and in many cases they choose to chip their own woodland supplies from sustainably harvested coppice.
We also have a number of wood fuel suppliers that we are in contact with to assist in this process.
Contact Us today on 0203 189 0666 to discuss your requirements.VIEW LESS
Biomass is extremely sustainable when it comes from woodland that is sustainably harvested. The ideal biomass source is coppice as it is a small tree commonly harvested by cutting parts of the tree away rather than removing the whole tree. This allows vigorous regrowth from the plant.
Woodland management is a rapidly growing part of the British country life and is considered to improve ecosystems greatly, as was discovered by Rural Energy staff at a tree planting event at the end of 2014.VIEW LESS
Using the best quality wood fuel for your biomass heating system is the most efficient and cost-effective way of fuelling your heating system, whilst minimising possible issues that could arise from using lower-quality fuels.
This is dependent on several factors specific to you and your site. Check out our blog Wood Chip vs Wood Pellet for some of the benefits of each and further information if you expand this answer.
More information about wood fuel options can be found in the Fuel Types pages of this site but here are some thoughts to help your decision:
Although wood chip is cheaper (per tonne), wood pellets have a higher calorific value per tonne so the same volume of fuel will give more energy to the boiler when burnt. It also depends on the available storage on site as to which is a better fit for you specifically, as is the number of suppliers in your area.
Due to the calorific value and nature of pellets (they flow easily whereas gravity does not always have the same effect on chips due to their irregular shapes) smaller storage solutions can be opted for, compared to wood chip which requires a larger bunker.
If clients are intending on harvesting and chipping their own woodland to feed the biomass boiler, this is obviously not only beneficial to keeping fuel costs down, but also manages the woodland when reaped sustainably. Ensuring you have an alternative supplier is always recommended.VIEW LESS
Biomass boilers work in exactly the same manner as any other type of boiler, but use a biomass energy product as its fuel. As this tends to be woody biomass, there is ash as a by-product of the combustion process.
Biomass boiler heating systems are, as a rule, much more efficient than traditional boiler systems. The Herz range is up to 95% efficient compared to pre-2011 installed gas boilers which could be as low as 85%.
All boilers and brands vary, though, so it is worth looking into.VIEW LESS
Biomass boilers can be retrofitted into existing buildings, however there are a few constraints. These include the flue or chimney: A biomass boiler requires a natural draft flue or chimney to be constructed, and although it is possible to use a property's existing chimney stack, if it has one, it is required to be a correctly lined flue with a biomass flue liner.
Biomass boilers, due to the complex components, are slightly larger than gas or oil boilers, which must be taken into consideration early on in a new build project, as are several other factors....
The integration of biomass boilers into a heating system is very much the same as a gas boiler, except biomass boilers usually also have what is called a buffer vessel, or thermal store, which fossil fuel systems do not.
In a word, no.
As an appliance that combusts woody biomass fuel to operate, both ash and smoke are unavoidable side-effects of biomass boiler heating systems. Because of strict regulations and legislation, however, there are requirements for flues and chimneys to be of a certain height to minimise environmental impact.
Depending on the size and type of site you have, a storage solution can be found or tailored to suit your requirements. From underground or above-ground bunkers to farm animal feed-style silos or even flexible material silos for internal locations, there is an option suitable for you.
There are various pre-manufactured storage options available for your biomass fuel. Some options are suitable for either wood chip or wood pellets, such as octagonal hoppers, whilst others are specifically designed for pellet, such as flexible bag silos.
Take a look at our Fuel Storage options for more information.VIEW LESS
This depends on the type of fuel, output of boiler, site constraints and several other factors.
Our Fuel Storage pages will give you some indication of the options available to you and how much space might be required though you can always use no land space at all by opting for an underground bunker, or choose a built-in fuel store as with our packaged solutions.
To give you the best guidance, please contact our team on 0203 189 0654, so that our experts can discuss your options.VIEW LESS
This varies depending on your boiler output, heat and hot water usage and wood fuel type, to name just a few influences on how much fuel you are likely to use.
We will be happy to discuss some calculations with you; just contact our team on 0203 189 0654.VIEW LESS
Delivery is primarily an access issue (can a delivery vehicle get on to the site and up to the fuel store?) however delivery options may be linked to the chosen fuel type, how these can be delivered and the type of storage on site.
One of the quickest and simplest ways to get fuel into your store is by tipped delivery. Your supplier delivers the wood fuel by pneumatic lorry and, once on site, the lorry simply tips the chips or pellets into the fuel store.
Alternatively, still tipped, the fuel can be fed through a pipe to the storage area. Wood pellets can be blown through a pipe from as much as 20 metres away from the storage, which could work best for sites with obstructions between the access road and fuel silo.VIEW LESS
Although Rural Energy can recommend some suppliers, it is a good idea to do some research about wood fuel traders in your local area and there are websites that can help you with this.
We don't supply wood fuel direct ourselves, but have local contacts in the Leicestershire area and can make recommendations of where to find a suitable supplier in your vicinity.
It is worth looking into local wood suppliers as not only will likely keep the costs down for you, but it also keeps the carbon footprint of the wood down as it doesn't need to be transported long distances.
If the website lists in the FAQ "Where do I get biomass wood fuel from?" do not provide you with suitable suppliers in your area, give us a call on 0203 189 0666 and we will see which suppliers we may be able to recommend.VIEW LESS
There are regulations in place throughout the UK, including the Clean Air Act, that may influence the brand of biomass boiler you opt for due to the requirement to meet low emission targets. Our Herz biomass products are all thoroughly tested and have been certified, Clean Air Act approved and MCS accredited.
More about the current UK regulations on emissions, including the Clean Air Act, can be found in our article Biomass Emissions - Regulation and Legislation.VIEW LESS
Rural Energy is able to offer tailored finance packages for biomass projects that aims to remove the up front cost from your biomass solution.
An Energy Supply Contract (or ESCO) is essentially a financial arrangement with a company which can help you significantly reduce your heating and energy costs whilst also achieving long-term energy security for your client or business, removing the capital investment costs.
Essentially, the ownership of a biomass heating system remains with Rural Energy and the user makes payments for the use of the biomass heating system, thus avoiding the initial capital cost. Arrangements can be customised for the client's needs and can include the supply of wood fuel with payments being made on the basis of heat purchased.
Rural Energy is able to provide ESCO arrangements for certain biomass heating projects and your can read more in our Finance Packages pages.VIEW LESS
Other than providing your property with lower-cost, sustainably-fuelled heating and hot water, cutting carbon emissions and being an environmentally-conscious decision to implement, there are financial incentives to installing a biomass boiler system, including:
The Renewable Heat Incentive is a scheme that allows those who invest in biomass heating technology to earn payback on the heating they generate for 20 years. This is on each kilowatt hour of heat used and metered, that is generated using a renewable technology and a sustainable source – such as biomass boilers and wood fuel.
Payments for registered installations are guaranteed for 20 years on the Non-Domestic RHI scheme and 7 years on the Domestic RHI scheme. New registrations are expected to be accepted on eligible renewable heating systems until at least 2020, though this is subject to change.
For a more detailed review, click to read our blog article The Nitty-Gritty on the RHI.VIEW LESS
Both the Domestic and Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme tariffs are subject to change - expand this answer for a table showing the current rates.
Maintaining your biomass boiler and other system parts is vital for its continued efficient operation.
Maintenance is as much about preventative measures as keeping your system running smoothly. There are requirements to maintain systems associated to incentives also, such as the RHI. You can read all about why in our blog 5 Reasons to Properly Maintain Your Biomass Boiler.VIEW LESS
If your biomass boiler shows a fault, this should be dealt with by the trained system operator.
As with fault issues, if your biomass boiler is non-operational when it should be, the trained operator should try to establish what the fault may be through interrogation of the system using the control panel. Any fault codes should be recorded to provide to Rural Energy’s technical team when you call to report the break down.
There are numerous variables that must be taken into account when looking to answer this question, such as the kilowatt output of the boiler, whether it will be located in an internal or external location, whether separate mechanical and electrical services will be needed on top of the boiler installation, the type of fuel storage and fuel feed being used, etc.
To tell you how much it costs to install a biomass boiler we will need to understand your requirements and expectations. Because these are different for every customer and site, speak to Rural Energy so that we can understand your needs better.
Please call 0203 189 0654 so we provide you with an estimated price once we understand more about your individual requirements.VIEW LESS
There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ biomass heating installation.
Until we understand the scope of your project – including if any plumbing, mechanical and electrical work is likely to be involved, whether the existing heat distribution system is suitable for a biomass boiler and if external storage or accessories are needed – even a ball-park figure could be misleading.
We want to ensure you are given as accurate a price for the equipment and work your project will involve, so call us to discuss it on 0203 189 0654.VIEW LESS
Once the biomass boiler has been delivered to site, depending on the size of the equipment, location of the fuel store and complexity of the project, installation usually takes only a few days.
Of course, the size of the biomass boiler influences the time it takes to complete an installation also, with Herz Firestar, Pelletstar and PelletFire boilers often completed in a day. Many other influences can effect the amount of time a project takes and often the installation, commissioning and operator training of the biomass system are the least time-consuming aspects of a renewable heating project.
As with most biomass queries, speaking to an expert to assist in your project planning is must. Reach our team on 0203 189 0654 to get started!VIEW LESS
Again, there are many varying influences on how to size a biomass boiler, including the age and insulation standard of the property/properties being heated, heat load requirements and so forth.
Call 0203 189 0654 to speak to an expert about sizing your boiler.VIEW LESS