Wood heating for homes: a local feasibility study

Investigating a biomass heating scheme for households who live off the gas network

Project duration: July 2002 to June 2003

Examining whether it is feasible to operate a biomass heating scheme that enables households that are off the gas network to switch to high-efficiency wood-fuelled heating systems.

The general aim of the study was to examine whether it is feasible to operate a biomass heating scheme in Somerset and the former Avon area, and that enables households that are off the gas network, with inefficient solid fuel and oil-fired boilers, to switch to high-efficiency wood-fuelled heating systems.

The specific aims were:

  • to establish the size of the target group, and the scope for the installation of energy efficiency measures
  • to establish what information and incentives will be required to achieve a specific level of take-up and to overcome customer inertia
  • to review the technical issues relating to the installation of energy efficient wood-fuelled heating systems
  • to compile a list of local sources of wood fuel, including businesses disposing of wood as a waste product
  • to examine what information and advice will be required by the target household group and by wood suppliers, and the best method of providing this information
  • to develop an agreed methodology for calculating the carbon saving targets for the project

The methodology adopted to achieve the aims was as follows:

  • refer to a variety of sources, including census data, housing surveys and Energy Efficiency Advice Centre (EEAC) databases to estimate size of target group
  • liaise with suppliers on the technical issues of wood-fired heating appliances and appraise the current market
  • liaise with suppliers regarding the various forms of wood fuel available and appraise the current market
  • select three or four off-gas villages within the study area and conduct market research on households by means of interviews and questionnaires
  • conduct a telephone survey to establish local sources of wood fuel and its availability

The study was completed in June 2003. Overall, it concluded that significant levels of adoption are unlikely to be achieved within the target group under current market conditions, even with the availability of the Government’s new Clear Skies grants for renewable energy technologies.

The two main barriers were found to be the lack of an adequate wood fuel supply and distribution network and the higher installation costs to householders compared with existing systems. CSE’s study concluded that both issues need to be addressed simultaneously if biomass heating is to be a realistic option for the average householder.

For further information contact:

Martin Holley | 0117 934 1419

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