Grade A Woodchip for a biomass boiler
Thursday 19th of August 2021 | Posted In: News and Views

Using waste wood in your biomass boiler

For many, burning recycled waste wood is a great choice, as it is a low cost and readily available biomass fuel. However, it’s important to make sure you’re properly permitted before you even take delivery. There are three grades of waste wood: A, C (which now includes B) and D.

These grades, established by WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) and the British Standard institute in BSI PAS111:2012 were adopted by the Wood Recyclers Association as the industry standard for grading used woods. The Environment Agency have since issued a Waste Wood quick guide (2017), which utilises information from BSI PAS 111:2012, whilst adding additional advice in regards to environmental permitting.

Does burning waste wood affect my RHI payments?

If your boiler manufacturer and RHI emissions certificate confirm your boiler can burn waste wood, you must still apply for the relevant environmental permit before doing so. Obtaining an environmental permit is part of maintaining your legal obligations beyond simple compliance with the RHI. If waste wood is not listed on your boiler’s emissions certificate, an appropriate environmental permit can be used to demonstrate compliance with RHI regulations. Once you are appropriately permitted, you must declare to Ofgem that you have changed fuel type to maintain your RHI compliance and to continue receiving payments. There may be more record keeping necessary and, in most circumstances, fuel testing may also  be required to meet RHI regulations.

Which grade should I burn?

The simplicity and lower cost of burning Grade A mean it’s often the best choice. Many commercial boilers accredited to the RHI can burn this grade of wood without any equipment modification, although settings may change. In order to legally burn Grade A wood, you will need to obtain a Part B environmental permit for plants less than 1 MWth input (or a variation to an existing virgin EA permit for plants over 1 MWth input), and carry out regular monitoring of emissions, reporting the results to your regulator when requested.

The regulations regarding burning Grades C or D waste wood are more stringent and therefore expensive to implement and maintain. In many cases, boiler modifications will be needed to ensure the boiler is unharmed by burning this fuel. Additionally, the more contaminated grades fall under the Waste Incineration Directive regulations, which require specialist boiler plant. Grade B wastes have also now been integrated into Grade C definitions.

How do I get a Part B Permit?

By applying to either your local authority or the Environment Agency, depending on your existing situation and size of plant. You will need to submit the following:

  • Application forms
  • Site plans
  • Design details of the boiler
  • Fuel specifications
  • Details on your management system
  • Supplier details
  • Emissions calculations

It normally takes around a month to complete the process, but sometimes it can longer, depending on the complexity of the permit. You will also need to provide air quality dispersion modelling if you are proposing to burn Grade A waste wood near a vulnerable habitat site (Ancient woodland, Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI), or similarly classified area). In some cases, a site visit by your local authority or a local EA regulatory officer is required. More stringent permitting regulations apply if the combined thermal input of all boilers on site, which burn waste wood, exceeds 3 tonne/hr fuel consumption.

How can NFU Energy help?

We will oversee the entire application process, liaise with your regulator on your behalf to ensure that your submission is straightforward and that the permit is issued as quickly as possible. We undertake all the calculations, provide the required supporting documentation, and advise you on the necessary changes to management practices. Once the permit has been issued, we can also provide advice on your on-going monitoring responsibilities and undertake these for you.

What we do:-

  • Identify which organisation/authority to apply to.
  • Check for any local SSSI’s and other local protected areas, which may affect your application.
  • Discuss your application with your regulator to ensure all requirements are met.
  • Determine if a site visit is needed and represent you during the visit if required.
  • Complete the application form.
  • Complete the paperwork required including process descriptions, fuel specifications, air quality assessment, stack height calculations, site plans, location plans and additions to/implementation of an environmental management systems etc.
  • Advise you on the procedures and requirements you will need to implement on-site to adhere to the regulations.
  • Ensure you pay the correct fees to the regulator.
  • Describe your on-going monitoring requirements.
  • Provide you with documentation to enable you to comply with ongoing monitoring requirements.

Find out how we can help you with all your energy needs by giving the team a call on 024 7669 6512.