Oohs & aahs at Guide Dog charity biomass Talk & Tour

Oohs & aahs at Guide Dog charity biomass Talk & Tour
On Monday 29th September the National Breeding Centre for Guide Dogs UK opened its doors to a Talk and Tour for delegates to learn more about the centre’s biomass boiler installation and the hard work undertaken daily at the site.
The National Breeding Centre is located near Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. The modern buildings and facilities opened in 2011 and the increased capacity allows for up to 1,500 service dogs to be bred annually. The staff, volunteers and animals benefit from improved welfare thanks to the new facilities, which are heated by a 500kW Herz BioMatic biomass boiler. The boiler runs on wood chip which is stored in a steel framed building with a hydraulic opening lid and front doors to provide easy access for tipped fuel deliveries.
National Breeding Centre guide dogs and building
There was an impressive list of delegates attending from businesses such as mechanical and electrical (M&E) contractors, main contractors and construction companies, consultants and local councils.
The Talk and Tour started with a presentation by Rural Energy Business Development Manager Phil Hunt and covered aspects of biomass heating systems that people considering the renewable technology might want to keep in during the development stages of a project. Plant room space requirements as well as fuel delivery vehicle access to site, types of fuel stores, flue heights and, vitally, boiler output sizing to meet heating and hot water requirements were covered.
Biomass boiler and RHI sizing graph
Phil also gave some good insight into the financial side of heating using biomass which was clearly a topic of interest to the delegates. Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) payments, initial monetary layout and running costs were all discussed.
Mark Hyatt, Facilities and Sustainability Manager at the National Breeding Centre ran a couple of videos showing the importance of the work carried out by Guide Dogs UK, its staff and volunteers.
Next, the Guide Dogs UK fuel suppliers, Forest Fuels’ Howard Towns, presented on some general points of fuel supply for the biomass industry and then gave specific information about the wood chip used by the centre.
Howard covered subjects including the basics of different fuel types, their storage and delivery, quality standards and quality issues. Did you know that over-sized chips and higher than expected moisture content can cause issues with a biomass fuel feed system? Larger chips can cause fuel transport augers to jam, for example, and wetter fuels can cause a boiler to work much less efficiently as it tries to get the same amount of energy from a type of fuel that it is not commissioned to deal with.
Liz Hinckley, Centre Operator, gave tours of the facilities, including a walk through a sensory deprivation corridor to highlight how those affected by sight and hearing loss would have to deal with everyday situation without the assistance of a guide dog. Guide Dogs UK try to ensure that puppies bred to be service dogs are born within their fosterer’s care so that they are immediately in a home environment and can get used to daily activities, noises, smells and activities.
Phil Hunt led the tour of the biomass plant room and fuel store with input from Howard and Mark when specific questions arose, such as how many deliveries of wood chip does the centre receive over the winter months (the answer is 3 to 4) and what happens if the biomass boiler breaks down or requires servicing (to which we were told that the back-up oil boilers take over heating the facilities).
All the delegates left with a better understanding of the realities of biomass heating and the various aspects that they need to consider for their own projects.
Guide Dogs UK biomass boiler Talk & Tour
If you are interested in attending a Rural Energy Talk and Tour, or would like to request a biomass CPD seminar, please email marketing@ruralenergy.co.uk or call 0203 189 0666.