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Cloudhouse cafe interior

Cloudhouse Café and Gallery wood fuel case study

  • Location: Stow, Galashiels
  • Wood fuel usage: heating and hot water provision for café and exhibition space
  • Installation date: November 2007

Reasons for changing to woodfuel

Before being developed for its present use, the building was unoccupied and without heating. With no mains gas in the area, there was a strong impetus to find a financially viable means of heating the space.

The owners were also keen that the new heating system was sustainable. Biomass was considered the most suitable option given the geographic location and interior space.

System features and benefits

Cloudhouse_pageBody

The wood pellet boiler is situated in the main café area. To make it an attractive feature, a model with a glass door was chosen so that the burning chamber can be seen.

The boiler runs a wet central heating system which includes domestic hot water and under floor heating. Under floor heating has several advantages:

  • The large radiating area allows efficient heat retention
  • Pipe work can have a lifespan of up to 100 years
  • Under floor heating loops are practically maintenance-free if installed without any joints
  • Energy savings of up to 40% can be achieved over traditional radiators

The small internal pellet store holds 1-2 days of pellets allowing the boiler to be positioned in rooms with limited space.

The performance of the system has been good and the owners are very satisfied. Key benefits are:

  • Very economical solution for off gas mains areas
  • Carbon lean technology preferred by owners
  • Clean and easy fuel to handle
  • Added value to customers and visitors

Wood fuel supply

The first deliveries of pellets came from Argentina and Ireland but the café now has a secure, local supply of good quality pellets.

Installation issues

The heating system was part of a larger process of building development with the only significant structural change being the provision of a flue. Consequently planning constraints were minimal.

Lessons learned

  • Seek local fuel supply to maximise carbon savings
  • Installation and ongoing service package should be arranged together
  • Using an experienced wood fuel installer will help guarantee a good installation
  • If repeating the project, Cloud House Cafe would have installed radiators, since they find that when it is very cold it takes a long time for the Cafe to heat up through the floor.

Facts and figures

Note from editor: When this woodfuel system was installed, the UK Government Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme did not exist. The RHI is now available and commercial woodfuel heating installations can receive payments based on metered heat produced for 20 years.

If this project were eligible for the RHI, it could generate up to £1,860 of income per year, based on the maximum biomass tariff of £0.086 per kWh.  Assuming the boiler is run at maximum capacity for 800 hours of the year, this income could be combined with any savings made over displacing fossil fuels to give a potentially very attractive payback period.

Projects installed pre July 2009, or that have received public grants for their boilers from other sources (unless they have paid them back), are not eligible for the RHI.

Note: figures above and below are approximate

Building
Heated area 60 m2
Heated volume 145 m3
Fabric 16th century stone
Heating system
Boiler manufacturer/model Lucrezia Idro
Maximum boiler output 27 kW
Fuel type Wood pellets
Fuel specification Moisture content: <10% (M10)
Store capacity 1-2 days 0.045 tonnes (0.03 m3)
Back-up/top-up system Accumulator tank (700 litres)
Fuel consumption and cost
Annual wood fuel use 4.5 tonnes
Wood fuel cost £1,000 per annum
Installation cost and funding
Boiler system £7,600
Funding source Scottish Biomass Heat Scheme
Funding support rate 50% of additional costs of woodfuel system
  • Very economical solution for off-gas mains areas
  • Carbon lean technology
  • Clean and easy fuel to handle
  • Added value to customers and visitors