The latest install figures show that the strong uptake of commercial biomass – particularly for farmers and landowners – has triggered a drop in some Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) rates, but the chief of the UK’s biggest wood fuel supplier says that this only highlights the strong opportunities that larger boilers offer.
“This week’s news is strong evidence that more businesses now recognise biomass as a reliable, long-term alternative to fossil fuels,” said Peter Solly, managing director of Forest Fuels, which has 17 biomass wood fuel depots throughout the UK.
“The 200kw+ tariff is unchanged, and there remains a large number of industrial and other heat users than could benefit from RHI-supported biomass at this scale.”
Forest Fuels has witnessed a number of businesses opting for smaller boilers or so called ‘cascades’ where multiples of 199kw boilers are used – often not appropriate for their requirements – in order to claim the most attractive RHI payments.
“We expect the mindset of businesses choosing smaller boilers in order to claim higher RHI payments to change in light of the upcoming reductions,” added Peter, “and we anticipate more businesses will seek solutions that specifically suit their heat requirements.
“In the early days of the RHI businesses have steered clear of bigger boilers, perceiving them to be more complex, expensive, and not as financially attractive. However, we now expect to see increasing numbers of organisations installing systems in excess of 200kWth. This makes perfect sense, providing the systems have been carefully and specifically designed for each business’s particular needs.
“Bigger systems require in-depth planning and independent advice – it isn’t simply a case of installers scaling up what they have been doing for sub 200kw boilers. As more businesses opt for larger-scale boiler it’s essential that they seek expertise at all stages of their project to ensure that, for example, the district heat main maintains a high level of efficiency and that there is a robust fuel storage and delivery design, which at this scale will most often be chip. Rigorous planning of the install is essential, as ‘bigger scale’ means mistakes can be more costly. Getting it right from the outset can not only save businesses huge amounts of money, but also it can help them maximize the return on their initial investment."
In addition to its wood fuel supply businesses, Forest Fuels has an independent consultancy arm, which carries out feasibility studies and advises organisations on the most appropriate and financially beneficial options to suit their needs. It handles the whole tender process for businesses, ensuring that they find the solution to meet their individual requirements.