Biomass boilers…often misunderstood

9 January 2015

So you’ve decked the halls with boughs of holly, brought out the mistletoe and wine, despite the weather outside being frightful while some of us nearly had a White Christmas and Santa Claus finally came to town. And after all that excitement, Christmas is over for another year. Why is the build-up always so long and the occasion itself so short?!


Now you’re lumbered with the task of taking down all the twinkling lights that outline your entire house, getting singing Santa and dancing Rudolph off the roof and packing Frosty the Snowman away. If you’re a traditionalist then you might have only taken your beautiful decorations down after the 12th day of Christmas – and so you should. Oh and if you think the kids are going to be as enthusiastic to help taking it down as they did in putting it all up, think again. I’m sure it’s a whole lot quicker without them anyway. Although, now you are left with a bare tree in the corner of the living room looking rather sorry for itself, and probably a whole lot less needles than when you first bought it still smelling pine fresh.


Aaah, the lovely smell of a pine tree…the lovely smell of Christmas. There’s just something about that beautiful pine smell that a lot of us crave for to make our homes, and ultimately Christmas, complete. All six million of us in the UK to be exact, according to the Forestry Commission.


Speaking of trees, we do tend to come across a lot of people with burning questions like how is a biomass boiler good for the environment when it uses trees to run. This debate, and misconception, on the issue usually comes from people who are unable to see the wood for the trees. Sorry, I just couldn’t resist that.


Let’s put it into context. Going back to what I was talking about earlier, Christmas trees. Imagine that, approximately six million trees are sold each year in such a short space of time. The average weight of a tree is 24.5kg so that means approximately 147,000 tonnes of trees are bought every year. 147,000 tonnes?! I don’t even know what that looks like! Do you?


Swiftly bypassing both our inabilities, let’s talk about boilers instead. Biomass boilers to be exact. So let’s say on average, you’d use 40 tonnes of wood per 100 kW. This basically translates to mean that 147,000 tonnes of trees would run 3,675 boilers! Now that’s a number I CAN imagine.


So you see, it’s very much swings and roundabouts, six of one and half a dozen of the other. There are some of you who would condone, why even partake, in the buying and supplying of trees to perfect your Christmas (nothing to feel ashamed of, we do too!) and yet be ever critical of the benefits of a biomass boiler. And to these few, we hope our little math lesson today has put some of the misconceptions into context and who knows, even shown you the light.


However you want to look at it, as long as we’ve helped educate the masses so more of you are switching to biomass in order to save our little planet and ultimately reach the target set in the Climate Change Act 2008 to reduce carbon emissions by 80% in 2050, that’s all that matters to us. Oh, and of course the quicker you switch sides, the higher the RHI payments will be. That’s obviously not the main reason to install a biomass boiler, is it? Tut, tut, tut. Don’t worry, we won’t tell. Although, RHI payments is a topic for another day and truth be known, trying to imagine all 147,000 tonnes of trees has wiped me out.