As a direct result of the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), Worcestershire beef farmer, Jim Farrant, has chosen a biomass boiler solution, from nationwide renewable energy specialist Ecovision, to reduce the cost of providing heat and hot water for his five bedroomed, approximately 500m2 farmhouse, farm office and separately located farm meeting room.
“Our previous heating and hot water system ran on an expensive oil fired boiler and we found ourselves only having it on for a couple of hours in the morning and again at night. The cost of oil meant that we really only heated part of the farmhouse,” said Farrant. “When it was cold we put on another jumper!”
Keen to cut his energy costs at the same time as improving the heating of his farmhouse, farm office and farm meeting room, Farrant first talked to Ecovision as a result of a Renewable Energy Exchange event.
“My decision to look seriously at a renewable energy system was driven by the tariffs, or subsidies, available from the Government’s RHI. Without the RHI, I would not have gone ahead,” added Farrant.
“The total cost of installing the biomass solution was in the region of £48,000 which seems like a large amount,” explained Farrant. “But when you take into account the installation and running costs and calculate the potential savings I will make from no longer having to buy oil and the all important RHI payments, my renewable energy solution, which now allows me to heat the whole of my farmhouse, will hopefully, pay for itself in five and a half years. Plus I will continue to receive approximately £6,000 a year in RHI payments until 2034 so, overall I am looking at return on investment of around 19% over 20 years!”
Farrant initially looked at a ground source heat pump solution (GSHP) but was not convinced that this was the best form of renewable energy for his farmhouse. With an abundance of timber on the farm, Farrant and Ecovison discussed a biomass boiler solution and Farrant talked to several manufactures to evaluate the best in the marketplace.
“Having to maintain the wooded areas on the farm it made perfect sense to use our own timber as heating fuel,” continued Farrant. “We decided to use the timber as logs rather than woodchip, as logs could be more easily stored in our existing older farm buildings.”
Working closely with Ecovision, Farrant settled for a 40kW Froling dual fuel biomass boiler which was commissioned at the end of May utilising the existing radiators. The biomass boiler, housed in an old garage which now serves as a plant room, is fuelled by ½ metre long logs cut from timber from the farm backed up by wood pellets which Farrant buys in. The pellets are stored in an especially constructed pellet store within a small shed behind the plant room.
Using two types of fuel for the biomass boiler means that if for any reason logs are not used, for example, if the Farrant’s are going away the boiler continues to burn pellets. The boiler’s automatic ignition is initially fired via the pellet burner but, if the boiler has been loaded with logs, they will automatically burn until they have all gone. The boiler then automatically switches back to burning pellets.
The Froling biomass boiler’s remote management capabilities enable Mr Farrant to control his boiler via the Internet through the Froling Connect’s website. He can turn the boiler on or off, adjust the heating temperature, turn the hot water on, etc., from wherever he happens to be, just as if he was in the plant room standing in front of the control panel.
“I would recommend that any farmers looking at the options around installing a renewable energy system consider talking to Ecovision. Its professional team took a consultative approach and there was absolutely no hard sell tactics,” commented Farrant. “An important factor for me was that Ecovision is completely independent so together we could decide on the best biomass boiler for my requirements, regardless of the manufacturer.”