John Richardson & Son Ltd sought the support of environmental specialists from the Cumbria Business Environment Network (CBEN), who are funded by the ENWORKS resource efficiency programme.
As a result of an on-site review by the advisers, a biomass boiler was installed at the Scotland Road depot last summer, to replace the mains gas that had previously been used for heating in the winter months.
The site processes large volumes of timber and most of the work is done in a large, open workshop, which had always been difficult and expensive to heat.
It also produces a lot of wood off-cuts and saw dust, which had been collected for re-processing into briquettes and sold on for use in wood burners elsewhere. However, this involved a lot of manual handling and skip transport.
The company’s CBEN advisers recommended an energy-saving biomass boiler, to make use of the sawdust and wood chip as a raw material and to provide a renewable source of heat on site. More efficient extraction systems were also fitted, to make sure that all available sawdust is used.
The unit now processes about 48 tonnes of waste wood each year.
The whole project, including the 80 kiloWatt-hour boiler, a sawdust and chip processing unit, the ducting, a storage hopper and a small workshop extension to accommodate the equipment, cost about £60,000.
CBEN also helped the company to access support from the Government’s non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, which offers regular payments to businesses generating their own renewable heat on site.
It has cut annual energy and waste disposal bills by £2,270 per year, reduced the workforce hours required for waste wood handling, and saved almost 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) annually.
Workshop manager, James Taylor, said: “The efficiency of the biomass boiler is awesome, really. Over Christmas and New Year we needed to keep the building heated and the 10 cubic metres [m3] hopper of sawdust and chippings fed the boiler for 11 days, producing only half a bin of ash.
Additional benefits of the system include significant improvements in the workshop environment, because the dust is safely extracted from the air, and it is much warmer, with consistent temperatures throughout the day. This has also had a knock-on impact on the quality of painted work on site, which can dry more consistently.
Mr Taylor added: “This investment is a real win-win for us as the boiler should recoup its costs, through gas fuel savings and RHI payments, in about five to six years, and our working environment has improved as well.”
Thanks to the success of this initial project, John Richardson & Son is now looking into recommendations for a second biomass system at its Roper Street facility, which houses its trade and retail outlet.
CBEN is also advising the company on energy-saving LED lighting systems for both premises, which could save about £500 a year on electricity bills and further reduce CO2e by two to three tonnes a year.
Other recommendations include the potential for roof-mounted solar photovoltaic panels. CBEN has found scope for generating up to 8,000 kWh of capacity per year, per site.
Case study published on 15 May 2013.