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Friday, 24 October 2014 11:33

Posh Sussex school swaps gas & oil boilers for £1.2m wood heaters

Bede's, a day and boarding school located in East Sussex, has undertaken one of the largest biomass heating projects to date in the UK education sector to improve energy efficiency and cut energy bills.

Bedes 11The green investment saw the replacement of the co-educational independent school's 23 existing liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and oil boilers with three wood pellet biomass boilers. These will provide heating and hot water for the senior school and the three boarding properties.

The new boilers are fuelled by wood pellets sourced from sustainable British woodlands. Biomass from wood has come in for criticism recently from some who say importing it can cause more carbon emissions than what it replaces, and some in the UK's wood industries claim that large scale biomass energy use is driving up the price of their materials and putting their businesses in jeopardy. But at Bede's all pellets come from the UK, particularly from Verdo Renewables in Hampshire, and the wood comes from sawmills in the New Forest.

The UK Government point out that in Spring 2015 all biomass fuel used by households, businesses and other organisations claiming the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) must meet a lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target of 60 per cent GHG savings against the EU fossil fuel average.

Bedes 2Land criteria must also be satisfied, which for woodfuel are set out in the UK Timber Standard for Heat and Electricity. These points are outlined on the Government's Biomass Suppliers List website together with the suppliers who make the grade.

The biomass boilers at Bede's are predicted to achieve energy savings of £70,000 per annum, along with an annual reduction of carbon emissions by over 580 tonnes. In addition, the school also benefits from RHI payments as part of the implementation.

CPL Renewables, a UK specialist in renewable energy heating systems, was selected as the technology partner for the conversion project. As a recognised supplier of the Energy Efficiency Financing (EEF) scheme, CPL Renewables was able to offer affordable financing to Bede's to help realise the investment.

With a payback period of 10 years, the £1.2 million tailored financing package not only included the acquisition of the biomass boilers and their installation, but also the renovation of the underground electrical infrastructure as well as the installation of a Building Management System - a computerised temperature control and monitoring system.

The EEF scheme, a joint initiative between Siemens Financial Services Limited and the Carbon Trust, is designed to provide finance for energy-efficient equipment and renewable energy technologies for organisations, where the expected savings in energy costs and/or income from energy generation offset the monthly equipment finance costs, effectively making the investment zero net cost or even cash positive.

Bedes 9Mark Harper, General Manager at CPL Renewables, comments, "Given that a typical biomass installation can be much more expensive than a normal fossil fuel solution, specialist financing plays a particularly crucial role in enabling large-scale biomass heating projects. As Bede's chosen technology partner, we are pleased that we were able to offer the school an all-round solution encompassing both technology and finance, helping it achieve sustainability in both financial and environmental sense."

Dr Richard Maloney, Headmaster of Bede's senior school, said, "With the energy savings and the income from the RHI scheme, we will be cash positive from year one onwards. The accessibility and affordability of the EEF scheme has enabled us to finance and prioritise green initiatives using tailored financing designed to meet our environmental goals."

Bede's School
Verdo Renewables
Biomass Suppliers List
CPL Renewables
EEF Scheme