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Biomass Heating – Is it Suitable for You?

Biomass heating is defined as the production of heat or the process of heating spaces from the burning of organic materials, such as, virgin untreated wood, certain energy crops and clean industrial and agricultural residues fit for burning. The key characteristics of a biomass fuel depend on its moisture content; this affects its calorific value, and its particle size and grade. The smaller the particle size the faster your biomass fuel will burn.

Heat is produced by the combustion of the biomass fuels to heat your home’s water or air. Biomass systems can be as simple as small manually fed systems with a thermal capacity of a few kW to large systems capable of 5MW which are fully automated with advanced controls. The system perfect for you depends on your requirements.

Although carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere from the combustion of the biomass fuel, biomass heating is still considered as “carbon neutral”. This is due to the absorption of carbon dioxide by the original growth of the organic biomass. Therefore, the net carbon dioxide throughout the lifecycle of carbon emissions are negligible compared to a fossil fuel fired boiler system.


Biomass considerations:

–       A biomass heating system is more expensive than fuel fired system of the same capacity. Therefore, it is important that the correct sized biomass boiler is installed to suit your heating requirements.

–       You need a well-designed space for the biomass fuel delivery, storage and handling.

–       You need to use a fuel that is available, reliable, accessible and appropriate.

–       You need to research the fuels available to you that will be the most cost effective. Your costs will vary for each fuel depending on the market availability, quality, form and proximity of the fuel source to point of use in your home.

–       In Britain there are some ‘smoke control areas’ where only authorised fuels can be burnt. You need to check whether you are in a smoke control area on the DEFRA website as this will determine which biomass fuels you can use.


Despite the list of considerations needed for a biomass system, there are many benefits to having one installed.


Biomass benefits:

–       Biomass is a widely available source of energy that is a renewable energy source.

–       Reduces carbon emissions compared to fossil fuels.

–       Biomass boilers are eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive, so home-owners can enjoy income and savings based on returns of 10-20% guaranteed for 20 years.

–       Payback time is generally 5 to 12 years; this can be shortened dramatically if free waste wood is available.

–       It can be fitted to your existing heating system with very little or no disruption to your premises.

–       Biomass heating is considered to be carbon neutral so a biomass boiler is environmentally friendly.


Biomass heating is suitable for many houses and there is government funding available to help with the costs of installing this environmentally-friendly, renewable energy system and will be eligible for further payments when the RHI scheme is rolled out with a typical payback of 7 years.

Article written by ecoNRG Ltd, award winning experts in the design and installation of renewable energy systems in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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