A lot of people out there are looking into alternative forms of heating more and more due to increasing energy costs and rising concerns over the environmental impact of fossil fuels. Two of the options that are on the market are GSHPs (Ground Source Heat Pumps) and Biomass Boilers. At JKN we like to focus on “Better Solutions” which is why we won’t touch biomass even with someone else’s barge-pole. Although it is considered a “renewable” form of heating it is hard to believe that the criteria that needs to be met for this classification is being met by all suppliers. For one thing I have never seen a tree that grows as fast as it burns and to be sustainable it means that for every tree felled for biomass use there has to be many others planted so that over a period of time the amount of live biomass stays the same. It is ambitious (or more like foolish) to think that the global forestry industry has managed to successfully self-regulate so I find it incredibly difficult to believe that trees are being replanted at an adequate rate. It is one thing for a small number of premises using locally sourced sustainable wood supplies but it is an entirely different thing when this gets scaled up (as with huge UK power stations converting to biomass and then importing large amounts of wood from the USA to burn and get paid for this being “renewable”). If everyone just in the UK converted to biomass then the amount of fuel required would be enormous and this would inevitably lead to rising costs as industry struggles to keep up with demand. The other side to this is even worse as there will be less well off regions of the world who are forced into growing biomass for the UK’s fuel demands and will have no room to grow food for their own people. A quick internet search of the word “sustainable” returns the following definition – “able to be maintained at a certain rate or level”. I’m pretty sure that biomass fuel supply won’t be able to meet this definition if global uptake continues to increase.
Aside from all this there are a number of other reasons why GSHPs are a Better Solution. Lower running costs and better RHI payments can easily be achieved with a GSHP which also requires much less maintenance and produces no on-site emissions. Cheaper bills, larger income, smoke-free environment, no sweeping chimneys/clearing ash, no large fuel stores, better control, better Co2 reductions and less deforestation are all reasons why a GSHP beats biomass pretty much every time.