Photo of harvest on a farm

Biomass funding for farms

More than halving fuel costs by changing from fossil fuels to biomass is an attractive business proposition, but the capital cost required can be a major hurdle for many farm businesses – However, there are new schemes which put boilers on farms, which enables farmers to benefit from cheaper heat without the capital outlay of buying the boilers. In exchange for this, the developer or funder claims the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) payments.

Bernard Matthews turkey farms in Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincolnshire, are currently installing over 100 boilers using this type of scheme providing heat for 248 poultry sheds. The company is keen to replace fossil fuels with energy from sustainable sources over the next couple of years and it is hoped that other farm businesses could also benefit from the funded biomass concept in the future.

How it works

Funding worth £24.5m has been secured for the project from the UK Green Investment Bank’s Energy Saving Investments fund; the funder retains ownership of the assets throughout and also receives all Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) income for the length of the scheme (20 years).

While farmers never own the boiler or receive any RHI income they can expect to save 25-50% on heating bills by buying wood-chip instead of LPG or oil, with no capital cost for installing a boiler. This concept is also available for solar projects. “Whether it’s one shed or 1,000, we can provide a fully funded, bespoke solution, helping farmers to finance the scheme over a number of years”.

Are there any negatives?

Farmers must sign up for a 20-year term, but there is a break clause after 10 years, the fee for exercising this is linked to value of the equipment at the time of breaking the agreement. The leasing company must approve the fuel used in the boilers, but most kinds of wood-chip and pellets are approved.

Soon it is hoped that changes to the European Waste Incineration Directive will allow poultry waste to be burnt to further reduce bills and cut the cost of transporting litter for disposal.

Example of benefits – Poultry Farm

* Biomass heating systems improve bird welfare in poultry sheds as the dry heat produced means humidity is cut from 65% under LPG systems to nearer 35%, and CO2 emissions are also lower.

* Heat circulation is better than with LPG systems and there is reduced in-house ammonia, lower ventilation requirements and better litter quality. These all improve bird health and result in a higher feed conversion ratio.

Environmental Energies supply and fit Biomass community heating boilers suitable for district heating schemes, community heating and large heating systems nationwide.

Environmental Energies work with property developers, local authorities and social housing providers amongst others to design and supply complete biomass community and district heating schemes. Heating accounts for 73% of a typical homes energy use, which can be met entirely by biomass community heating. Biomass heating is the low cost renewable solution to cut C02 emissions and will help meet the governments Code for Sustainable Homes.

Biomass community heat is intrinsically low carbon and is substantially subsidised by the Renewable Heat Incentive for district heating schemes.

Community and District heating Community heating systems utilise a central boiler to provide heat for a number of buildings or parts of buildings such as communal hallways and staircases. Biomass boilers are ideally suited to communal or district use as they can be large and expensive to purchase for smaller projects.

The larger the district heating schemes required means that gas and oil boilers will start to be of a similar price, so biomass boilers become more economically viable. When the governments index linked RHI payments are included, biomass energy becomes highly attractive in terms of payback times, income and Co2 savings. Pay back of the initial investment is normally less than 4 years.

In summary community heating delivers economies of scale and the 20 year guaranteed index linked RHI payments from the government.

How it Works

From the central boiler, hot water is piped to each building, where the heat energy can be metered and charged accordingly. Our optimised system design minimises heat demand and system losses while ensuring a high level of resident comfort. Individual consumer interface units enable each tenant to control and be billed automatically for the heat they use.

There are significant administrative benefits of using one boiler installation to supply heat to multiple buildings such as:

* Social housing Blocks of apartments

* Schools

* Sports centres Factories

Communal heating is used widely in European countries, particularly Austria and Germany where we source our tried and tested equipment from. We mainly use Herz and ETA products. Centralised heat supply maximises reliability, minimises maintenance requirements within properties and is lower risk than individual fossil fuel boilers.

If you are interested in Biomass funding for Poultry Farms or any other industry Contact Environmental Energies Ltd on 01858 525 407 or mail to:

Posted October 18, 2015