March’s talk came from Kristian Lloyd Davies & Tony Salini of Thermal Earth. Thermal Earth is a Heating and Electrical Engineering company established in 2006, based in Ammanford, which specialises in renewable energy.
In Wales wood boilers are the most popular option as there is more standing wood in the country now than at any time in the last 100years. The choice is between log biomass or pellet boilers. Log biomass boilers obviously require logs to burn which maybe either soft or hardwood which has been seasoned, i.e. split and stored bark side down, to a moisture value of less than 20%, moisture meter supplied with boiler. These boilers come in a range of sizes, 25kW to 95kw and run at 95% efficiency and are connected to a large,1500L to 5000L, accumulator tank from which heating and DHW are derived.
Pellet boilers burn preformed wooden pellets and are auto lighting and cleaning with automatic temperature control. The pellets are usually stored in a large hopper but may be supplied in small bags. They will burn approximately 1 tonne /month. The majority of the pellets produced are exported due to insufficient domestic demand. Both these types of boiler are usually installed in a separate building with ducted supplies to the home.
Other options include heat pumps which extract a small percentage of heat from a large thermal mass such as the earth, a large volume of water e.g. lake or river or from the air into a piped water supply to the heat pump. This energy is then transferred by the heat pump to the domestic heating and hot water system. This process uses electricity but in a well designed system can give a fourfold return. The Renewable Heat Initiative is a Government Scheme, (so expect red tape!) that enables people to move away from fossil fuels and use sustainable resources. It is part of the Green Deal so the property will require an energy assessment. Payments are then made over 28 quarters, 7 years, so that the costs of installation will be recovered. The tariff paid varies with the circumstances of the installation but Tony and his team excel at this. Rather crazily the RHI also applies to business but in this case payment is made over 20 years and the more you burn the more you get??!! Farms can be classified as businesses if they fit a fairly broad template. Unfortunately wood burners and multi-fuel stoves are not covered by the scheme.
Many thanks to Thermal Earth for this very informative talk.