Derwenthorpe energy centre unveiled

The biomass energy centre will initially provide community heating to 65 new build homes, which will be extended to 540 homes over the coming years. Econergy, a subsidiary of British Gas, are responsible for the design, installation and first year of fuel supply for the complete community heating system from energy centre to the individual houses.

From conception, one of the key objectives for the developers was to achieve extremely high environmental sustainable standards with low carbon emissions achieving Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 and 5.

To achieve this a communal heating and hot water system consisting of a biomass (renewable wood chip fuelled) boiler together with standby gas boilers and thermal storage vessel, all positioned within a centrally located Energy Centre was chosen. Individual properties are connected to the Energy Centre via a pre-fabricated steel insulated heat mains system.

Heat interface units in each property provide heating and hot water services very much like a more familiar combi gas boiler and include heat meters to facilitate billing. Meter readings are collected automatically via a site wide wireless network allowing the automatic billing of individual customers from a remote bureau.

An underground fuel store to the rear of the Energy Centre accepts tipped deliveries of locally produced sustainable wood chip fuel. Importantly a dedicated access road and vehicle turning area ensures that fuel deliveries are safe, quiet and dependable.

Unlike most Energy Centers, the facility at Derwenthorpe is generously sized, this is because the developers viewed the energy Centre as the hub of the community, not just providing heat but also incorporating community meeting places to be enjoyed by the local residents.

As well as making sound environmental sense the system is expected to be cost effective and residents can look forward to making substantial fuel cost savings. It is anticipated that the potential cost savings per property will be approximately £500 per annum compared with the average home in the UK and with a carbon footprint of just a sixth of the typical average home.

In the first phase 64 houses are being connected heated by a single Turbomat 320 kW wood chip boiler and one Buderus GB402 620 kW gas boiler. The heating plant within the Energy Centre will eventually comprise of two Froling TM320 wood chip boilers and four Buderus 620 kW condensing gas boilers to serve the full 540 homes. In order to maximize the efficiency of the biomass boilers, reduce fossil fuel consumption and to maximize the income earned under the government renewable heat incentive, a 36,000 liter thermal buffer was specified to maximize the utilization of the wood boiler and minimize start-stop cycles for the best possible seasonal efficiency.

The Energy centre includes multiple heat meters to record heat production by wood and gas boilers and heat export to the mains, as is required for accreditation under the Renewable Heat Incentive which the scheme will qualify for.

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