The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) closed its doors to new applicants on 31 March 2021 and the government has not announced a replacement. Without a doubt, the UK woodworking industry has received enormous financial benefits from the scheme, but besides the economic gains, have there been any environmental benefits? The answer is yes, in the form of better air quality due to increased industrial biomass boiler efficiency.
Hardly a day goes by without a reference to air quality in the newspapers or on TV, often with a keen focus on particulate emissions and PM 2.5 particles. The RHI imposed stringent restrictions on particulate and NOx emissions, which primarily stem from diesel engines and the generation and consumption of fossil fuels.
The strict particulate limits put the research and development department at Ranheat into overdrive. The limit went from 200mg/m3 to 60mg/m3. Ranheat’s design of choice featured ceramic filter elements to remove as many airborne particulates as possible. So successful was this design that the levels tested by independent test houses were consistently below 2mg/m3, almost totally removing particulate from the flue gasses.
The Renewable Heat Incentive effectively forced down the particulate emitted by wood burners from 200mg/m3 to 2mg/m3, which is a huge achievement.
What else did the scheme achieve? Well, it actively encouraged the replacement of older, more polluting boilers with newer and larger models that feature modern, low-emission and high-efficiency systems.
Once the RHI removed the varying tariffs based on boiler size, the woodworking industry began trending towards larger production capacities. Smaller hand-loaded units simply couldn’t achieve the low emissions possible with ceramic filters.
Not only did the industry receive a financial boost, the whole country also benefited from reduced air pollution and cleaner air to breathe, thanks to improved industrial biomass boiler efficiency.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 made installation more complicated, mainly due to social distancing and the related workplace restrictions. Nevertheless, Ranheat successfully adapted by implementing one-way systems, limiting access to specific areas, adopting a two-shift working system and constructing a new building. Despite the challenges, the company remained busy during the pandemic, installing nearly 7.5MW of boiler power, all equipped with ceramic flue filtration to minimise the environmental impact.
While the RHI is no longer accepting new applicants, installing an industrial biomass boiler is still a sound option. Not only will this help you reduce operating costs and promote sustainability, but it will also allow your business to contribute to a more environmentally friendly and energy-efficient future.