Biomass halves heating costs for research laboratory

The cost of heating this high-voltage laboratory in Hebburn has been more than halved by replacing gas-fired plant with a biomass boiler.
The installation of a biomass boiler has more than halved energy costs at the Clothier Laboratory of NaREC, the New & Renewable Energy Centre, in Hebburn. Wood Energy supplied the 500 kW Binder boiler to replace a conventional gas-fired boiler to provide heat for the large 40 m-high test faculty. It uses locally sourced wood fuel supplied in standard ISO hook bins. This is thought to be the largest biomass installation in the north east of England and has reduced energy costs from £3200 to £1400 a month. NaREC’s high-voltage test laboratories are designed to facilitate the generation of high voltages in a controlled environment to test electrical components, typically for utilities companies. Maintaining a fairly steady temperature is essential for the tests, and the biomass system has proved itself successful during the last heating season. The 500 kW step-grate boiler is designed to use wood chips with up to 50% moisture content and is teamed up with a 10 000 l accumulator to prolong its life and maximise efficiency. The entire system can be monitored and controlled from designated offices in the UK, including NaREC and Wood Energy. Paul McLean, group facilities manager with NaREC, says, ‘It is important that we support renewable energies, and we want to become an exemplar for biomass in the north east. We have already had in excess of 300 people visiting the installation, many of whom are interested in investing in biomass.. NaREC is teaming up with The Engineering Support Partnership to create an energy company to sell biomass heat. The plan is to install boilers for free and offset this capital cost against fuel bills.
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