Biomass Boiler helps Rookery Farm go ‘greener’

Things are hotting up at Rookery Farm with our Biomass Boiler

You might be wondering what goes on in the large building behind the holiday accommodation. Well, here we reveal all!

It is our Biomass Boiler, which has been up and running for more than a year now. It is helping us to create a sustainable energy source and reduce our impact upon the planet.

The Biomass Boiler provides hot water and heating to all six of our holiday properties. This is such a great step forward in producing a sustainable energy source. It is very much in keeping with the ethos of both our agriculture and accommodation businesses.

Why biomass fuel?

People ask why we have gone down this route. Well, there are some very simple facts about Biomass energy that gives the whole initiative viability.

The first is the cost effectiveness. Wood-fuelled heating systems – in our case wood chips – have been proven to save a great deal compared to electricity or gas heating.

It is also a low carbon option. The carbon dioxide emitted when wood is burned is the same amount that was absorbed over the years the plant was growing. The process is sustainable as long as new plants continue to grow in place of those used for fuel. Some carbon emissions are caused by the cultivation, manufacture and transportation of the fuel but, as long as the fuel is sourced locally, these are much lower than fossil fuel emissions.

Thirdly, we wanted to use a sustainable energy source. Debates rage about climate change, and the undeniable fact that fossil fuels are fast running out. We wanted to do our bit to ensure an energy supply in the future.

Rookery Farm Biomass boiler - wood pellets

What is biomass fuel?

Biomass fuel can be sourced from a “closed carbon cycle” system, where the amount of carbon emitted during the burning of fuel is balanced by the planting of trees.  This is an environmentally friendly way of harvesting fuel to provide heating. It therefore cancels out the harmful effects of  releasing carbon into our atmosphere. Trees need carbon dioxide to grow, making this a symbiotic partnership and one which is environmentally friendly.

The term biomass refers to a type of fuel sourced from living/non living plant matter, which, besides wood chips, can be derived from either wooden logs or wood pellets.

The techy-bit

Our Biomass Boiler is German 200kW Maximum Output HDG Bavaria Biomass Boiler. It comes matched with a 6,000 litre buffer tank. It is a relatively simple piece of machinery – it runs on wood chip. This is delivered in 24 tonne batches on a walking floor artic lorry. It has a fully automatic feed with automatic de-ash system

You can see our Biomass Boiler behind Rookery Farm. By necessity, we house it in a large building, a 12 metres by 18 metres, purpose-built steel portal building.

A system known as the Underground District heats the main pipe. This delivers hot water to each of the properties. This in turn is connected to the houses via plate heat exchangers and hot water cylinders which supplies heating and hot water to the houses.

How does the boiler work?

A biomass boiler works in a very similar way to conventional boilers. It combusts fuel to produce heat that then heats the water. For a number of reasons biomass boilers are normally substantially bigger than their fossil fuel-burning brothers. Firstly, since they burn wood pellets as opposed to gas, the boiler needs to be larger to hold the larger volume of fuel. The automatic feed requires additional room and we also keep a supply of wood pellets handy to maintain the hot water supply.

And for any guests concerned that the boiler might ‘pack up’ (a very unlikely occurrence) we have a contingency plan. Backup heating is provided from two of the old oil fired boilers from the houses plumbed into the buffer tank while backup hot water supply is via immersion heaters in each of the houses’ hot water cylinders.