Businesses with high heating costs can reduce carbon emissions and secure a reliable 20-year income stream by installing a biomass heating system under the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive. But how much will a commercial or industrial biomass boiler cost? Like any engineering project, it will depend on performance requirements and site-specific constraints.
Although there is no substitute individual advice, the following information can be used for initial evaluation.
Sizing the biomass boiler
If there is an existing oil or gas boiler, it will be specified to meet the maximum heat demand. An equivalent size biomass boiler can be installed in some cases, but it is usually recommended to install a biomass boiler sized at approximately 50% of the maximum demand. A biomass boiler that can meet half the maximum demand will supply up to 90% of the heat annually. It will also have a lower capital cost and operate more efficiently.
Another benefit of combining an oil or gas boiler with a biomass boiler is increased redundancy in the heating system. One boiler provides back-up to the other, reducing risk to business continuity and allowing boilers to be serviced without interruption.
Estimating biomass boiler Cost
For biomass boilers between 100kW and 1MW, and installed system typically costs between four hundred and six hundred pounds per kW. The cost varies within, and sometimes outside, these values.
Factors which increase biomass boiler cost
- A new building is required to house the plant room and fuel store.
- The plant room is not immediately adjacent to, or inside, the building where the heat is used.
- The boiler uses wood chip fuel. Although this will increase capital cost, it will reduce long-term running cost.
- A larger, or fully automated fuel storage solution is required.
- New radiators or other heat emitters are required.
Factors which reduce biomass boiler cost
- An existing space can be used to house the boiler and fuel store. Very approximately, the required floor area in square metres will be boiler size (kW) x 0.1 + 20, with a ceiling height between 3m and 5m.
- Wood pellet fuel is used. Pellet fuel takes up less space for a given amount of fuel so a smaller space is required, and pellet fuel handling equipment tends to cost less.
- Wood chip fuel is used, and a telehandler or similar loader is available to transfer fuel from a bulk store to the boiler fuel bin.
- The biomass boiler is complementing or replacing an existing oil or gas boiler, and the existing heat distribution system is in good condition.
The Carbon Trust guide Biomass heating – A practical guide for potential users is a useful guide to planning and procuring a biomass boiler system.