Beware biomass heating, warns Calor

Beware biomass heating, warns Calor

New sustainability criteria for biomass fuel before users receive RHI payments, and doubts about the future viability of this market means that potential users of this technology should consider other options, according to Keith Higginson, Marketing Manager for Calor Gas.

Says Higginson: “For the last few years, a number of businesses have opted for biomass heating systems because the RHI payments appear to offer a good return on capital.

“There has always been a debate about the sustainability of fuel used for biomass, both from outside suppliers and for those supplying their own fuel. This has now been recognised by the government. It means that from October 5th, both domestic and business users will need to source their fuel from the approved Biomass Suppliers List or register as a self supplier on the list and provide evidence of sustainability.

“Claims will be audited by Ofgem, with the potential penalty for non compliance of RHI payments being withheld, plus other sanctions.

“When you add in other concerns such as compliance with the Clean Air Act and the general economic climate of cost savings from the government, it would be a brave business or consumer who specified biomass as a heating source for the future.

“These new requirements mean users could end up with higher fuel bills or no RHI payment.

“For those considering a new heating system, we would suggest exploring other options in the face of such uncertainty. Some businesses in the biomass market may offer what appear to be good deals in the face of these issues, but there is a danger that you will be left with an underspecified system that will leave you or your business with high maintenance and service costs in the future.

“There is also a number of businesses to which reliability of supply is vital – losing heating could be disastrous for country hotels or poultry farmers for example, with consequences for revenue and reputation.

“I believe that the new supply sustainability criteria for biomass, coupled with ongoing degression of future RHI payments could see the beginning of the end for this market.

“Of these alternatives I would argue that LPG offers the cleanest, greenest and most cost effective answer.”

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