With Biomass tariffs (under the Renewable Heat Incentive, RHI) available to both commercial and domestic users, Wood Pellet boilers are attracting interest from all sectors of the market place. Commercial users, largely private businesses and public organisations, are able to obtain payments over 20 years based on the size of boiler fitted up to a tier break between two tariff levels. The higher tariff of 8.6 p/kWh is paid up to the tier break level of 1314 hours. Beyond this the tariff drops to 2.2 p/kWh in order to discourage the overproduction of heat for financial gain.

With these tariff levels business can easily recover the cost of their installation in a relatively short period of time (within five years) and earn a decent income for the remainder of the twenty year term. These payments are also fixed at the tariff on entering the scheme and index linked to inflation. For the proposed Domestic scheme due to commence in April 2014, homeowners can claim over seven years with tariffs designed to account for twenty years of heating. The domestic tariff has been set at 12.2 p/kWh. The payment will be based on the heating requirement as defined by a Green Deal approved home energy assessment as documented in the resulting Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Commercial installations will need to have fitted a RHI approved heat meter.

An account needs to be opened with Ofgem to register the installation and to administer the meter readings for the resulting payments. Installers wishing to offer their services will need to comply with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) for all installations (domestic or commercial) up to 45kW of capacity. For commercial installations additional rules apply for more complex installations, such as those which deliver heat to more than one building. Having understood the financial incentives on offer to migrate from fossil fuel based boilers, the installer should explain to the customer some of the requirements of operating a Wood Pellet Boiler. Firstly there will be similar requirements for the provision of an approved flue system. This is no different to any device that requires combustion for its operation.

The need to store the pellets is also no more onerous than locating a bulk storage tank for heating oil or LPG. Care should be taken however with the distance of the pellet store and how it is located in relation to the boiler. Ventilation is a consideration as wood pellets must not become damp and give off carbon monoxide when stored in bulk. Today’s modern Pellet boilers offer user friendly and low maintenance features such as self-loading, self-lighting and self-cleaning. On balance the case for Wood Pellet Boilers under the RHI schemes make this form of heating most compelling.