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Biomass in action

MGA were recently commissioned to convert an existing saw mill to a residential property at Rise Farms Estate in East Riding, Yorkshire. As part of the project, the estate owner asked us for advice on how best to heat the mill and several other estate properties efficiently and cost-effectively. As mains gas isn’t an option locally, the existing properties were being heated using oil-fired boilers which were old and in need of upgrade.

Initially, Mason Gillibrand Environmental carried out a feasibility study to assess all potential heating options, along with associated running costs and the availability of government incentives. After careful analysis and discussions with the estate owner, we proposed a biomass district heating system.

We worked closely with the local council and gained planning permission to utilise an existing single-storey joiner’s workshop as the new boiler room. Gaining planning permission required a sensitive approach, as we carefully considered the aesthetics of the building in keeping with the estate. Two 101kW biomass pellet boilers were proposed - sized to serve six properties, with potential to serve an additional three properties.

Hot water is linked to each property from the boiler room via an underground insulated heat main and tenants now have their own discreetly located external heat exchanger unit. The estate owner has agreed a price per kilowatt-hour of heat with each tenant and bills them quarterly based on kilowatt-hours used. The boilers are supplied by two 7-tonne pellet stores so that pellet deliveries only need to be scheduled every few months.

While the system required a considerable initial outlay, it will pay for itself in eight or nine years – thanks in part to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Scheme – after which the estate will continue to benefit for many more years. The biomass system is now smoothly up and running, with lower tenant bills and the estate owner benefiting from the RHI Scheme which will be paid over the next 20 years.

This is our fourth district heating scheme; others have included Levens Hall, Cumbria and the Calvert Trust in Keswick.

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