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Think about storage and delivery access

Wood fuel storage and delivery access are key issues as the size of storage and delivery mechanism will affect the frequency and ease of delivery. If you are currently using gas, this won't be something you've needed to consider before. If you use oil, you will need more storage space.

Tractor delivering to wood fuel store

So, you need to assess how much storage you need, what space is available, and how accessible that space is to delivery vehicles.

Plan your fuel storage and delivery system at the very beginning of your planning process. Get your installer and potential supplier talking at the outset to make sure the two sides of the system marry up -failure to plan an integrated system can prove expensive.

 

Storage should be as close to the boiler as possible, to minimise the complexity of the system needed to transfer woodfuel to the boiler. The system should be designed to minimise fuel handling - poor design can add substantially to your fuel costs. It also needs to be a watertight space. Have a look at the types of storage available.

How much wood fuel storage space is needed?

You can estimate how much woodfuel you'll need to store based on:

The Biomass Energy Centre has produced a tool, Estimating Fuel Requirement, to help you do this calculation.

Some points to bear in mind when estimating storage space:

  • Fuel requirements will vary between summer and winter - the size of the store needs to minimise deliveries during the heating season. However, the maximum size will be mainly constrained by cost and the space available on site.
  • For wood chip and pellet systems, unless your delivery system is very flexible, you should be able to store enough fuel for at least 10 winter days.
  • For wood chip systems, your fuel store should be about 25% larger than the fuel it contains to reduce potential condensation problems.
  • With automated systems, approximately half a metre is required at the bottom of the store to accommodate walking floors or spring loaded agitators.
  • If you have limited storage space, wood pellets may be the best option.

Delivery access

Do you have convenient access for the size of vehicle your delivery needs? If not, is there the potential for delivery access to be part of the project design?

The tipping or transfer of wood fuel should be quick and simple to minimise your costs.

There are a number of fuel delivery options available. Delivery type will depend on:

  • The proposed fuel type for the wood fuel boiler.
  • The area available and any other physical access constraints at the site (e.g size of gate).
  • The area required for the delivery vehicle to access the fuel store.
  • The proposed delivery vehicles available from prospective fuel supplier

Generally the fuel supplier's vehicle needs direct access to the fuel store. However, wood chips can be blown a limited distance. Where access is problematic, wood pellets may be the best solution.

Health and safety information

The following table outlines the risks that may be associated with fuel storage/delivery and actions to minimize risk:

Risk

Action to lower risk

Fungal spores and carbon monoxide.

Good ventilation/No lone working/Wearing of masks when handling fuel (or else those moving chip should be in an enclosed vehicle)

Moving parts

No lone working

Slips and falls

No lone working

Structural failure due to swelling of wet wood

Protection from rain/water ingress, not storing wood chip above 30-35% moisture content to avoid risk of decomposition

Fire/explosion

Back fire prevention, earthing of pellet stores, fire alarms, minimize break up of pellets (dust) e.g through use of a baffle or rubber matting on back of pellet stores and use of straight delivery pipes

 

Further information

Next steps