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Biomass Community Heating and the RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive)

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The use of woodfuel and other forms of biomass is unique among renewables because it is based on harnessing stored solar energy in the form of a fuel, whether woodfuel from forestry and timber processing, agricultural by-products such as straw, or dedicated energy crops grown specifically as an energy feedstock. This has given it a much wider range of applications than most renewable energy (RE) technolgies such as wind, wave and photovoltaics.

Under pressure both to reduce CO2 emissions and also to secure our future energy supplies, our energy economy is on the cusp of major changes. Wood heating has the potential to play an important part in these changes and to grow rapidly, bringing with it a raft of potential benefits. These cut across many different strands and might be said to offer a model of sustainable development.

Community heating refers to use of a large biomass boiler house for supplying heat to a number of remote buildings. The five major components or such a setup are 1) A central energy center with biomass boiler and fuel store; 2) A network of pre-insulated heat mains to remote buildings; 3) Consumer interface units; 4) Standard radiators for space heating; and 5) Domestic hot water supply.

Through the RHI , the government is proposing cash back incentives to consumers and businesses who generate their own renewable heat. This should give a typical scheme an 8 year payback against gas and should be even quicker for oil.

Econergy ( is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of wood fuelled boilers, biomass energy services and district heating solutions. Econergy has sold over 450 biomass heating projects and received a substantial investment from Centrica plc (British Gas) in 2009.

Chris Miles MA Engineering (Cantab), MBA (INSEAD), CEng MIET has been working in the biomass energy sector since 2005 following nearly 20 years in a variety of business and engineering management roles in the international process and energy sectors.Chris is also on the board of the Renewable Energy Association and a director of Midland Wood Fuel Ltd, a leading regional wood fuel supplier. Working with the REA , Chris has played a leading role in the development of public policy for biomass heat over the past 4 years. This includes substantial input into the design of the Renewable Heat Incentive and air quality legislation.

18.45 for refreshments. Lecture starts at 19.00. Ends at 21.00 following questions and discussion

This talk is part of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (Cambridgeshire Area) series.

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