Does Biomass Hold The Key to The Future of British Energy?
Back in July, Love Energy Savings published an article regarding Biomass boilers and how they could represent the next big thing for renewable energy. This week, the appliances have been in the news again having been given a huge thumbs up from areas of the media and even senior members of staff at power giants Drax.
For anyone who didn’t catch our last article or who doesn’t know what biomass involves, it is actually based on one of the oldest energy techniques known to man, the burning wood. Humans have been burning wood for more than two million years, which makes it all the stranger that we haven’t tapped into this source more although concerns obviously exist regarding the sustainability of the planet’s trees.
Could Drax Be Run Purely Through Biomass?
Modern biomass techniques now involve the use of all sorts of other matter from forest floors such as grass fibres and other unwanted materials. Drax’s chief executive Dorothy Thompson, seen by many to be the most influential woman in British energy has been extolling the virtues of biomass, suggesting that Europe’s largest power stations could run solely on the method.
Thompson has explained that more people need to get their head around the concept of burning trees electricity. Those who have been opposing biomass due to their aforementioned concerns over the rainforests also need to relax and rest assured that only sustainable forests will be used. She makes the excellent point that purveyors of biomass are not going to burn their way through depleted forest as, if they were to do so, they wouldn’t have a business for very long.
Indeed, less trees are being burnt to use for biomass and more fibre, so the energy used in the process is becoming more and more minimal.
Are There Environmental Risks with Biomass?
To date, Drax has been delivering around an 80pc saving when compared to power stations using coal and biomass has been imported from as far as field as Canada, Latin America and the Baltics. This is far more energy efficient than other power stations, really emphasising that the technique could be far better for the environment than other widely used methods.
Thompson has masterminded a remarkable turnaround for Drax since she took the reins back in 2005 and much of this has been down to dealing with carbon emissions. Upgrades to the facility and the burning of different materials such as biomass have propelled the power plant, which has set standards for the rest of the continent. This forward thinking should surely be emulated by other plants and biomass could play a huge role in boosting energy efficiency and the profits of UK power stations.
Biomass still needs more support from the government in terms of subsidies but the success Drax has seen from using the method surely cannot be ignored. It is no secret that energy market reform is needed and renewables such as Biomass could play a huge part in this, something Thompson also touched on in her recent interview with the Telegraph.
Drax has recently commissioned a report from think-tank Frontier Economics in order to establish where the biggest wins lie with regard to wind power and biomass, but they are expected to announce that up to £3.4 billion could be saved using biomass technology – figures which surely cannot be ignored. Thompsons next job is to convince the next government that renewables such as biomass do indeed hold the key to the future of British energy production.
Biomass Boilers - Key Info
- Biomass boilers generate the majority of, if not all, of a premises' heating and hot water. This reduces or even eradicates dependence on fossil fuels.
- They can pay for themselves within 36-60 months and there are systems available which are investor funded.
- Heat generated is covered by the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) for 20 years and is also inflation linked.
- Can be situated in a plant room or as is more often the case, a container or temporary structure.
- Biomass boilers run on pellets but you can also burn wood or any other organic waste, as mentioned above.
Biomass isn't just a fantastic method for mass power production, you can utilise them in your home or business to do your bit for energy efficiency. Read our key information on biomass boilers below and get in touch if you require any more information.
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