Biomass, is strictly defined as organic matter derived from living or recently living organisms. It is used as a low carbon source of energy, most commonly as wood or wood processed into wood chips or wood pellets. CO2 released by the wood fuel is absorbed by the trees or plants as they are growing.
The two main sources of domestic biomass heating are:
- wood burning stoves, which heat individual rooms, but can also be used to provide hot water;
- boilers, burning wood chip or pellets, which can drive a domestic heating system and provide hot water.
Biomass installations and their flues are subject to the Building Regulations. Planning permission is not generally required for installing a domestic biomass boiler, unless in a listed building, or your house is in a conservation area.
The cost of installing a wood stove might be of the order of £2,000 while an auto-feed boiler for a typical family house would cost around £10,000 – £12,000. The savings incurred will depend on the cost of your current supply. This can vary, for a 3 bedroom semi-detached home, from £100 per year if you are replacing mains gas, to about £700 per year if you are replacing LPG stored in a small tank. In addition, there are further reimbursements under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.
To qualify for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, installers must be registered with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).
Check also that your installer abides by the Renewable Energy Consumer Code, which covers contracts, execution of the works and support on completion.
An installer registered with a competent persons scheme such as HETAS, will comply with all the regulations.
Find out more:
Energy Saving Trust – Biomass.