Reduction likely in biomass tariff

Act now to take advantage of small biomass tariff ahead of reduction in April, growers advised.

Biomass: uses in garden centres
Biomass: uses in garden centres

Growers should act now to take advantage ahead of the small biomass tariff possibly reducing by up to 15 per cent on 1 April. The Department of Energy & Climate Change will make an announcement on 28 February.

There was a 10 per cent reduction to its small commercial biomass tariff for the quarter starting 1 January.

Land Energy managing director John Westmacott said: "There's a window of opportunity to get 6.8p/kWh for small biomass projects on a 20-year contract."

Renewable Energy Association projections indicate that the small biomass tariff could be reduced by up to 15 per cent on 1 April, he added. "Our take is that the probability of a reduction is high."

VG Energy marketing manager Gary Craig said of recent Renewable Heat Incentive cuts: "We were expecting 20 per cent cuts and it was 10 per cent, so it's still appealing for businesses in a wide range of sectors. It pays back, depending on the boilers, in four-to-six years."

The firm installed 195 biomass boilers across the UK in 2014 and its installation schedule is operating at full capacity until March.

Craig said VG has installed half-a-dozen boilers at nurseries and garden centres, including Allensmore Nurseries and Bridgend Garden Centre in Fife, and has several others lined up for installations. VG Energy will be at Four Oaks in September for a second year, he added.

The company, which installs six boilers per week on average, uses technology from German and Austrian manufacturers such as Heizomat and ETA.

Biomass benefits Lower costs for centres

VG Energy installed a 100kW Heizomat HSK RA biomass boiler at Bridgend Garden Centre, reducing its carbon emissions by 36 tonnes per year.

"With oil prices soaring by 50 per cent over the past five years, heating a garden centre via oil is becoming increasingly expensive," said VG Energy biomass technical director Steven Rawding.

"Biomass heating is now becoming an attractive proposition for garden centre managers and owners as it helps to significantly reduce the running costs of the business. By switching to biomass heating, a garden centre could save up to 65 per cent on its fuel bill.

"The business will earn a guaranteed quarterly income for 20 years via the Government's Renewable Heat Incentive. The return is as high as 25 per cent, whereas the payback period is as low as 2.4 years to six years."

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