Biomass - all plant and animal matter - can be used as a very low carbon fuel. As trees and plants grow, they absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) to form complex carbohydrates, which are the building blocks of their cells. When they are burned, the equivalent amount of CO2 is released, so no additional CO2 has entered into the atmosphere. And when they grow again, the cycle is repeated as the CO2 is re-absorbed. When fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) are burned, on the other hand, the CO2 they release was absorbed millions of years ago in a very slow cycle that may never be repeated, so they contribute directly to climate change. Generating heat and electricity from renewable and local sources of biomass can help protect natural resources where they are managed sustainably, and also increase our energy security. The biomass industry supports fuel suppliers and the rural economy. As a source of heating on a variety of scales, biomass boilers are now proven to be reliable and cost-effective.
To supplement the low grade heat from the solar thermal system, the biomass boiler at Beaufort Court burns wood fuel to provide high grade heat. Hot water is delivered from the boiler to three plant rooms on the site to warm the incoming cold air that is then circulated around the building. Whilst it could be fuelled by either wood chips or pellets, at Beaufort Court pellets are used, since they are easier to transport, more compact to store, and more consistent in their moisture content. The fuel is delivered by an eight-wheeled tipper lorry which blows pellets direct in to the pellet hopper (the size of the lorry is constrained by the height of the bridge on Egg Farm Lane - an important consideration!). Our 9 tonne hopper will hold enough fuel to keep us going for approximately 2 months at a time or possibly for 1 month during a very cold spell.