With the onset of autumn and winter, many biomass owners will be turning their attention to replenishing their fuel supply in preparation for the months ahead. For those committed to long term contracts, this probably won’t require too much additional input, other than checking that your fuel is of the quality that you were expecting.
If on the other hand, you are in the position where you are finding a new supplier, then make sure you research the fuel that you are buying carefully. Cheaper fuels do not necessarily mean cheaper operation, as you may find yourself with a greater outlay through poorer efficiency and increased maintenance work.
It is imperative that your fuel meets the standards that have been set throughout Europe, namely through the ENPlus and EN-14961 schemes. These fuel quality schemes lay out the minimum criteria that the fuel must meet in terms of ash content, density, water content, length etc. A fuel with a higher calorific value and less water content will cost more, but will burn more efficiently, produce less ash, and reduce the likelihood of clinker build up on the grate. This reduction in ash will over time also improve the efficiency of the system, as the heat exchangers will not become so coated with ash dust that their heat transfer efficiencies diminish.
High water content is the hallmark of a poor quality fuel. Calorific values decrease, as energy is spent burning off the moisture rather than directed into your heating system. These pellets also tend to be poorly compressed and have a high proportion of dust. You can read more about the effects of this here.
Other aspects to consider when investigating a new fuel supplier are delivery areas and where the fuel is sourced from. Shipping large volumes of wood chip increases the carbon footprint, so try to find a supplier with locally sourced material. Good suppliers will be happy to give you a sample and tell you where their fuel is obtained.
We cannot tell you where to get your wood pellets or chips from, but we do regularly see the negative effects from poor quality fuels. If you would like to speak to someone about your fuel or any other aspect of your system, we are more than happy to help. You can contact us through our website or ring your local office to speak to one of our friendly team.
(…and yes, we do realise that we have a picture of wood pellets, not chips – but the alliteration just wasn’t right!)