BTEC to release draft of thermal efficiency test method

By Biomass Thermal Energy Council | July 29, 2015

The Biomass Thermal Energy Council has announced plans to release a draft of the first thermal efficiency test method designed specifically for commercial-sized boilers that utilize solid biomass as a fuel stock (including pellets, chips, briquettes, and cordwood). The project responds to concerns that a lack of reasonable testing standards for biomass systems can make it difficult for specifiers to provide the owner of a biomass system with a clear distinction between the performance of high-efficiency, low-emission equipment and less satisfactory performers. BTEC plans to hold a series of regional scoping meetings to gather public feedback on the standard in the fall of 2015 and spring of 2016.

The project has already garnered $175,000 in committed support from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund, and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.

Once drafted and tested in an accredited lab environment, the efficiency test procedure is slated to be published as a voluntary BTEC document and made publicly available. Continuing work will then be undertaken to gain formal acceptance of the protocol by a respected national standards organization. BTEC will promote the efficiency testing procedure beyond the biomass industry to the HVAC industry, government officials and testing laboratories as well as consumers and businesses. The protocol will closely examine boiler performance at partial load and facilitate the evaluation of the benefits of properly sizing biomass boilers, including methods for multiple-boiler systems.

The final goal of the project will be evaluation and adoption of the new standard by industry, federal agencies and regulatory bodies, as well as state governments. It is anticipated that the existence of this testing method will enable the inclusion of commercial boiler systems in policy and tax incentive legislation at the state and policy levels, which often requires reliable efficiency markers to ensure that highly efficient systems are incentivized.

An overview of the project and information about biomass energy systems can be found on the Biomass Thermal Energy Council’s website,