UK's RHI Spurs Widespread Biomass Boiler Installations

I’ve seen a lot of progress in biomass heating applications in a certain region of England over the past couple weeks.
By Lisa Gibson | March 30, 2012

I’ve seen a lot of progress in biomass heating applications in a certain region of England over the past couple weeks.

Shropshire (I think saying that with an English accent is required, whether you normally speak with one or not) has a biomass boiler at its Whitchurch Community Hospital, and three schools in the region are exploring installations of their own biomass boilers. The surge in development and the fact that the U.K. has a very advantageous incentive to heat with renewable resources are undoubtedly related.

All of the projects in the region will benefit from the Renewable Heat Incentive, which offers long-term support in the form of tariffs to compensate for capital and operating costs of thermal technologies classed as renewable under the Renewable Energy Directive.

Shropshire isn’t the only area in the U.K. poised to install widespread community-scale biomass heating applications to reap the benefits of the program. Calderdale is looking at biomass boilers for six of its primary schools, which will share the RHI payments. And Anesco Ltd. announced this week that it’s offering free biomass boilers, installation and maintenance, recovering the cost through the RHI. Wow. I don’t think it’s possible for this program to be taking off any better than it is.

Once again, the cluster of Northern European islands is showing that it has more gumption when it comes to renewable resources than most of the world. Even co-firing of biomass, which U.S. large-scale coal utilities have yet to adopt, is commonly practiced. Just this week, a logistics researcher from yet another power giant in the U.K. called me to ask about wood pellet production and export in the Northeast U.S. He wanted to know whether it was viable to develop a mill there and ship product to the company’s U.K. power plants.

I do love to see the rapid development in the U.K. and read about how everyone seems to be jumping on the biomass bandwagon. I just wish all the positivity and willingness to do the work to make the change were a little more widespread around the entire world. The U.K. can’t carry all of us in the transition to a cleaner planet and future.