Biomass & Biomass CHP

Biomass & Biomass CHP

Vital Energi is one of the UK's leading developers of biomass-fuelled energy systems that produce energy by burning plant and animal matter including wood pellets, wood chip, animal by-products, and general waste. Wood remains the most commonly used biomass fuel and is used to power systems that typically convert the energy into heat for water and space heating.

Biomass can be used to power a range of systems including boilers and energy generating engines which can bring about significant financial savings and reduced COemissions.

These systems produce both electricity and heat, at the same time, using biomass eg. plant and animal matter, food waste or more commonly, wood, in the form of wood chips or pellets, as the fuel source.

There are two established processes for delivering biomass CHP in small to medium-sized applications in the 200kWe – 2.5MWe range: the Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) and gasification technology. 

The ORC is named for its use of an organic, high molecular mass fluid with a boiling point occurring at a lower temperature than water. The fluid allows Rankine cycle heat recovery from lower temperature sources such as biomass combustion. Gasification is a process involving partial combustion of a portion of the biomass fuel in the reactor with air, pure oxygen, oxygen enriched with air or by reaction with steam.

The suitability of either process depends on the individual circumstances of the project and would be established during design.  The different technology options need careful consideration. Systems need to be precisely specified based on the ratio and extent of heat and power requirements. The energy within the biomass fuel that is being used also needs to be taken into account along with fuel storage and delivery capacity.

Business benefits

Biomass-fuelled energy systems can have the lowest installation costs of all renewable energy technologies.  They are also often eligible for financial support from regional, national and European funding programmes, which Vital Energi have experience of successfully accessing.

Biomass schemes are also included in the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) programme which provides financial support to assist with the payback period of installing a biomass scheme and the cost of running it. 

Vital Energi has designed and installed several RHI schemes and therefore has the expertise to help clients maximise these benefits. This has been done through meeting the stringent requirements of the scheme including placement of meters, assessment of designs and installation.

Environmental benefits

Biomass is considered a significant tool in the battle against carbon emissions and wood fuel, in particular, is a carbon neutral resource and can make a significant contribution to meeting the UK's commitment to reducing COemissions. 

A huge benefit from biomass community heating schemes is that its boiler results in cheaper energy for residents. After the installation of a wood-fuelled biomass community heating system at Riverside Dene in Newcastle, residents saved an average of £288 per year on bills.