What is wood-fuelled heating?
Wood-fuelled heating systems, also called biomass systems, burn wood pellets, chips or logs to provide warmth in a single room or to power central heating and hot water boilers.
A stove burns logs or pellets to heat a single room – and may be fitted with a back boiler to provide water heating as well. A boiler burns logs, pellets or chips, and is connected to a central heating and hot water system.
Biomass is a renewable, low carbon fuel that is widely available throughout the UK. With efficiency over 90% and the ability to burn a range of readily available fuels, biomass boilers have become a realistic option when it comes to supplying heating and hot water on the farm or estate. With the cost of fossil fuels continually increasing more and more farmers and landowners are recognising the benefits of biomass boilers to provide a cost-effective heating solution.
Correctly managed, biomass is a sustainable fuel that can deliver a significant reduction in net carbon emissions when compared with fossil fuels.
The simplest way of using biomass for energy is by burning it. Doing so in an enclosed space in which the airflow is restricted is more efficient than burning it in the open. This enclosure can be used to provide heat for the room it stands in (a stove) or, by heating water and pumping it through pipes to provide heat to barns, grain dryers, poultry sheds or cottages. Heat can be provided to several buildings from the same boiler, this is termed ‘district heating’.
Benefits of wood-fuelled heating
- Financial support: wood fuel boiler systems could benefit from the Renewable Heat Premium Payment and the Renewable Heat Incentive.
- Affordable heating fuel: although the price of wood fuel varies considerably, it is often cheaper than other heating options.
- A low-carbon option: carbon dioxide is emitted when wood is burned; it is the same amount that was absorbed over the months and years that the plant was growing. The process is sustainable as long as new plants are planted in place of those used for the fuel. There are some carbon emissions caused by the cultivation, manufacture and transportation of the fuel, but as long as the fuel is sourced locally, these are much lower than the emissions from fossil fuels.