Angus-based renewable energy company Earthfire Energy has become the first supplier of straw-fuelled biomass burners to attain emissions standards required for RHI compliance.
Earthfire Energy Ltd – owned by Robin and Olga Leslie Melville with Campbell Baxter – has had to address increasingly stringent air quality measures to meet the surge in demand for biomass systems as an alternative to conventionally fuelled boilers.
Biomass boilers were brought to the attention of DEFRA and Ofgem as the level of adoption took off, having allowed the sector to mushroom to a point where there were no checks and balances on impact to air quality.
The advent of the Renewable Heat Incentive – funded by the public purse – has led to a rapid growth in the biomass boiler sector, and increasing need for regulation of pollutants.
As sole supplier to the UK of EKOPAL boilers, Earthfire Energy believes it is leading the field for clean energy in this sector, having set itself the hardest challenge by setting the standard with the most polluting fuel source available.
Robin Leslie Melville, co-owner of Earthfire Energy, said: “We took the view that we should seek to achieve the emissions standard using the most difficult fuel type – straw. And we have achieved that goal. Many of our competitors are attempting to achieve the standard utilizing wood which is much easier to do. We have also tested on wood.”
“As far as we are aware, we stand alone in this achievement, having had our batch boilers independently tested and approved as coming within the standards as set by the UK agencies. The delivery time for our range of boilers has unfortunately lengthened due to the significant increase in demand but this was always inevitable.”
Campbell Baxter added: “With our boiler manufacturer our investment in developing a filtration system to achieve this standard has been significant but worthwhile and, whilst the cost of a boiler unit has increased as a result, our straw burning boilers appear to be the only ones on the UK market that meet RHI emissions standard. We achieved the standard in May and have been inundated with enquiries ever since!”
Legislation addresses particulate matter (PM10) and oxides of nitrogen (NOX) from the combustion of biomass and the greatest challenge Earthfire Energy found with straw-burning boilers was PM10.
PM10 levels are not allowed to exceed 30g/GJ while NOX is limited to 150g/GJ.
Non-compliant boilers will not achieve RHI accreditation nor will boilers utilizing fuels other than those on which they have been tested and approved by Ofgem.