Leisure centre receives new biomass heating system

6th Aug 2012

A renewable energy project which could become a leader in sustainable public sector development has been installed in a leisure centre in Godalming, Surrey. Waverley Borough Council has contracted local firm L C Energy to supply fuel to the centre’s new biomass boiler, and with Surrey being one of the most wooded counties in the UK, there certainly won’t be shortage of woodchip for a while

L C Energy will deliver around 150 tonnes of woodchip annually over the next five years, representing about 20% of the boiler’s fuel requirements. The woodchip will be sourced from local sustainable woodland being delivered from Shere, which is about 8 miles away, creating one of the most efficient energy sourcing schemes in the UK.

Sustainably harvested biomass is one of the most efficient fuels in the world, as it is very close to being carbon neutral. Carbon is taken out of the atmosphere while the wood stock is growing and returned when burnt therefore the carbon footprint is created through actual delivery of the fuel. The more miles the fuel travels in order to reach its destination, the larger the carbon footprint, therefore it is in the best interests of total sustainability to reduce the distance travelled as much as possible.

“Given the short distance between woodland and boiler, it’s our understanding that this project represents one of most eco-friendly examples of public sector energy sourcing in the UK” said Mark Lebus, the managing director of L C Energy. “It’s a fantastic example of what can be achieved when we think locally, but act globally. Wood fuel boilers, such as the new one at Godalming Leisure Centre are a genuinely viable alternative energy source for organisations not only wishing to reduce their carbon footprint, but also reduce the region’s reliance on ever decreasing stocks of fossil fuels, and make savings that can be passed on to customers.”

According to a number of statistical sources, the South East is the most heavily wooded area in England with over 270,000 hectares of woodland. Only half of that area is managed effectively, therefore if sustainable woodland management practices were increased, the Forestry Commission estimates that the South East could supply an extra 500,000 tonnes of timber annually for conversion into wood chip for boilers.

According to L C Energy a domestic home requiring around 15,000 kWh of heat per year would pay around £530 per year for locally sourced wood chip compared to £870 per year for wood pellets from further afield based on an average cost of £281 per bagged tonne of fuel and 4,800 kWh of energy per tonne. The cost of fuel rises dramatically for other forms of fuel with gas being the next most efficient, above locally sourced wood chip, at £600 per year, oil at £885, electric at £1,900 and coal at £900.

“The biomass boiler will take advantage of Waverley being the most wooded borough in the most wooded county in the country” said Councillor Bryn Morgan, responsible for Climate Change and Sustainability at Waverley Borough Council. “We expect the income from this to be around £17,000 from the recently introduced government scheme known as the Renewable Heat Incentive. Thanks to excellent planning by Waverley, the new Godalming Leisure Centre will be reducing energy use and saving money at the same time.”