Biomass is a renewable energy source that is generated from burning wood, plants, and other organic matter, such as manure or household waste. It releases carbon dioxide when burned, but far less than fossil fuels. The carbon dioxide released during the combustion was absorbed while the tree was growing, so they are essentially carbon neutral.
Biomass boilers are like conventional gas boilers that provide space heating and hot water for the entire home, but instead of using gas or oil to produce the heat, they combust sustainably sourced wood pellets, chips, or logs. Biomass systems burn wood pellets, chips, or logs to heat a single room, or to power central heating and hot water boilers.
If a biomass boiler is too big for your home, a smaller standalone wood burning stove may be used to heat one room by burning logs or waste wood. These wood burning stoves can be fitted with a back boiler that uses the heat produced when the wood is combusted to heat water, that can then be used for either space heating elsewhere in the home or for hot water only. A wood-fuelled biomass boiler could save you up to £1,100 a year compared to an old electric heating system.
You need to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home when you burn any form of hydrocarbon resource like biomass, natural gas, or coal. It’s impossible to burn all fuel, and the combustion will produce dangerous gases like carbon monoxide, which can be fatal if inhaled.
Each year, approximately 8.5 million tonnes of wood go into landfill in the UK. This waste wood could be used in either biomass boilers if converted into the pellets or burned in wood burning stoves. This would not only provide heat and hot water, but it would also ease the pressure on landfill capacity.
How does Biomass boilers measure up against natural gas, heating oil and electricity? Using the kW per tonne it’s possible to work out the pence per kilowatt-hour (p/kWh). This makes it easier to compare biomass fuels with gas, oil, and electricity.