Bio Energy Updates

There are a number of local and regional examples and initiatives underway to promote the sustainable use of bioenergy sources for heat and electricity generation.

The greatest focus appears to be in the wood energy sector where there is already good potential and enthusiasm within the region to expand the wood fuel sector.

Bio Energy: is it for you?

What sorts of fuel can I use? Is it all logs? There are a variety of fuels available: Wood Chips, Wood pellets, Logs, Straw, Miscanthus and grain.

What is a wood pellet? This fuel is made from the same kind of clean sawdust that is used for pet bedding. The sawdust is heated and compressed into hard pellets and should be dust free. No binders and glues are added. If any water gets into the pellets, they fall apart very quickly so suppliers take great care to keep them dry.

Is there some form of standard for the fuel? A new British standard has been published (number CEN335) we expect this to become an ISO standard in 2012

What are energy crops? Energy crops are species, which are grown specifically to burn for energy. They include willow and poplar trees, which are grown as a "short rotation coppice" (SRC) and cut every three years to provide wood fuel. Other energy crops include oil-seed rape which is crushed to provide the raw material for Biodiesel and Miscanthus

What is Miscanthus? Miscanthus is a species of elephant grass grown for biomass. To picture what it looks like imagine a cross between pampas grass from the front garden and bamboo. This species grows to about 15ft high when it is left to dry, cut and baled. Power stations involved in co-firing are the main users of Miscanthus and grants are available to plant it under the energy crop scheme

Reverse Auction: Part of this management includes entering your energy bills into a reverse energy auction. This works the same way as a normal auction, but the bids get lower, not bigger! The top 800 energy companies bid for your energy contract and you decide which one is best for you.

Apollo Energy Tech can also help you become CRC compliant and ISO50001 accredited.

What does "arboricultural" mean? "Arboriculture is the selection, planting and care of individual trees, shrubs, vines, and other perennial woody plants, and the study of how they grow and respond to cultural practices and the environment. " It is usually used in reference to urban tree surgery work, as opposed to "silviculture" which is the management of whole woodlands.

BioEnergy FAQ's

Isn't there a lot of smoke? What If I live in a smokeless zone?

Wood fuel boilers typically run at very high efficiencies (90%+) this means that the fuel is converted into heat very effectively and very few smoke particles are produced. In a properly installed and fuelled boiler most of what comes out of the chimney is steam.


The vast majority of wood fuelled boilers are fine to install in smoke free areas. Legally though they need to be on a certified list held by the council. Boilers which do not appear on this list are not legal to install at the moment, though councils are able to make one off exemptions. There are also recommendations that have been submitted for the law to be changed. So watch this space.


Are there any grants available?

Grants are available to install biomass boilers. Different grants are available depending on your situation. Contact us for more information or look at out links page.


What about the ash? Will I be emptying it all the time?

Wood fuelled boilers typically produce less than 1% ash (it is often much less than this). In real terms on a small-medium sized system this means emptying a bucket once every two weeks or so. Wood ash isn't hazardous waste, in fact it is a low nitrogen fertiliser so instead of throwing it away you can put it on the roses.


What about planning permission?

Planning permission depends greatly on your location, though the benefits of a biomass system mean that is easier to get permission than many other renewable systems.


Wood fuelled boilers can be sited outside the building they serve and connected either to one or several buildings by a hot water main.


If boilers are installed within a building, the existing chimney can often be used instead of erecting a new one. If done correctly then the impact on the outside of the building is negligible. This means that wood fuelled systems are often a really good option for listed buildings.


Isn't the fuel really dirty?

No! Fuels are kept dry and free from contamination. Good quality wood chip is dust free and completely un-rotted. Suppliers take great care to provide clean, un-contaminated fuel, as this affects the selling price.


Wood pellet is formed from the same clean sawdust that is used for pet bedding, no binders or glues are used to make them and they should be dust free. If any water should get into a pile of pellets they disintegrate very quickly which means that suppliers take great care to keep them dry.


Who fits it?

With an renewable energy system there are many local companies to you that will be able to carry out the installation process. If you are wanting a renewable energy system installed on a commercial level, we highly recommend Enviko, award winning renewable specialists.


Isn't this an old fashioned system? Inefficient and dirty?

Wood fuel is the oldest form of heating. Modern wood boilers however are extremely efficient and clean. A typical pellet boiler could be expected to run at over 90% efficiency. Very small amounts of ash are produced which is non-hazardous (in fact the ash can be used as a low nitrogen fertiliser on the garden)


Will I have to spend lots of money?

This largely depends on the type of system. Wood boilers tend to be more expensive than other systems in terms of initial outlay, but tend to work out cheaper over the full lifetime of the system As a rule of thumb, the larger the system the cheaper it is in terms of ? per kW.


Are there any training/ introduction events so that I can speak to an expert?

There are a variety of demonstration events going on throughout the region. Have a look at out timetable here or contact us to find out more.


Quick Facts

What are "arboricultural arisings?" Arboricultural arisings are material that has been produced as a result of arboriculture. They consist of tree prunings, hedge trimmings and other woody and green waste. The wood component of this potentially a valuable resource for conversion into wood fuel.


How much do Wood Pellets cost: Unlike other forms of renewable energy such as wind or solar power, biomass systems require you to pay for the fuel. Pellets typically cost between £120 - £180 /tonne and pellets cost less at £50 - £80 /tonne. Fuel costs also depend on the distance from your supplier and whether you can buy in large quantities.


Thinking about going Bio Green?

Unlike other forms of renewable energy such as wind or solar power, biomass systems require you to pay upfront for the fuel. Pellets typically cost between £130 - £190 /tonne and pellets cost less at £60 - £90 /tonne. Fuel costs also depend on the distance from your supplier and whether you can buy in large quantities.


Bio News



A much needed update to the links section - We've removed some and changed others. Please let us know if you find anything still broken


We have changed the location of the "supplier search" function to the header bar. This should make it a bit easier to find. We have also fixed a bug which has been affecting the homepage formatting. As ever contact us if you have any problems.

We are now revised, updated and also available in a text only format. We've also changed the way the supplier search function works so it should now work if you have a pop-up blocker installed.

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