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Biomass Boiler Monitoring for Nottinghamshire Woodheat Project

The Nottinghamshire Council launched the Woodheat Project in 2003, with the goal of promoting energy efficiency throughout the county while reducing carbon emissions.

So far, more than 60 locations in Nottinghamshire have been equipped with renewable heating systems.

The energy source of choice has been biomass, specifically wood pellet, which is burned in specially designed boilers to meet water and space heating needs. The total fuel consumption of all boilers installed so far exceeds 2,500 tonnes of wood pellet per year, and by replacing oil and coal boilers the total reduction in emissions amounts to approximately 6,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. The following are some hallmarks of the project:

  • Initial funding came from Government grants, but the Nottinghamshire Council has provided additional capital to continue with the installation of biomass boilers.
  • Many of the existing coal and oil boilers are reaching the end of their service life, so it is an excellent change for an upgrade to biomass.
  • Design, installation and maintenance have been carried out through a public contract with British Gas Energy Services.
  • There is a contract for wood pellet supply as well, ensuring constant boiler operation.
  • The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) from the UK government, which offers payments based on total heat production, offers an extra profit on top of the normal savings achieved.

The RHI has been very effective in driving the adoption of energy efficient and renewable heating sources in the UK, by offering performance payments based on total heating kWh output. This shortens the payback period of any heating equipment upgrade that reduces the carbon footprint of the building in question.

Wood pellet offers two great advantages over fossil fuels: it is widely available locally as a waste product of lumber milling operations, and its price is lower and more stable than that of fossil fuels. For the end user, this translates into a more reliable heat supply, considerable cash savings and predictable heating expenses.

Monitoring Solution by Logic Energy

Measuring the output of a renewable heating system is key in order to assess performance, and also necessary in order to claim RHI payments. Logic Energy monitoring systems have been installed at several Nottinghamshire schools for this purpose:

  • Healdswood Infant School
  • Hollywell Primary School
  • Intake Farm Primary School
  • James Peacock School
  • Langold Dyscarr School
  • Queen Eleanor School
  • Stanhope Lower School
  • Stanhope Upper School
  • Walesby School

The Logic Energy monitoring system is equipped with a web dashboard from which the management staff of each school read key performance metrics. Individual dashboards can be configured according to client preferences, and the data displayed includes:

  • Total heating kWh, including a bar chart for the most recent measurements – it can be configured to display specific time periods such as 7 days or 30 days.
  • Current and historic water level.
  • Boiler fault notifications.
  • Current and historic fuel level – useful for planning new wood pellet deliveries.
  • Current and historic flow temperature – a useful metric to analyze the energy demand profile of the biomass boiler.
  • Electric energy consumption in kWh, if applicable.

BG Biomass Woodheat project

Example of a Web Dashboard – Queen Eleanor School

The main advantage of having web dashboard to complement the monitoring system it that data becomes readily available for budgeting and educational purposes:

  • Historic energy consumption records serve as a basis to budget future energy expenses. Projections are reliable because wood pellet has a more stable unit price than fossil fuels.
  • The web dashboard can be shown to students in order to teach them about renewable heating and carbon footprint reduction.

A complementary Woodheat Education Pack has been developed by the Nottinghamshire Council, and it includes audiovisual material dealing with the process of obtaining energy from wood pellet, as well as picture cards and posters.

Concluding Remarks

Two renewable energy sources are currently dominating the UK market: solar photovoltaic systems are the technology of choice for clean electric power generation, while biomass is being used to meet heating needs. Equipping these renewable energy projects with remote monitoring systems ensures their performance can be assessed continuously, based on reliable data.

Since the UK is located to the north of Europe, where temperatures are low on average, heating represents a considerable portion of energy expenses. Therefore, energy efficiency and renewable energy measures focused on heating can be very effective for achieving savings and reducing carbon emissions. With the adoption of wood pellet boilers, homes and businesses are guaranteed a more reliable and affordable heating source.

Derwent Hydroelectric Power Ltd.

Derwent Hydro began in 1988 with a passion for water power. We run our own hydropower schemes and have been involved in around 30 more as installers and/or consultants.

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