Your church and woodfuel

Burning wood releases heat which can be used to heat buildings and provide hot water.

Wood is the most common form of renewable heating in the UK, with a million tonnes of wood being used, mostly on log fires and log burning stoves.

There are now a range of well proven wood fuel based technologies available to run central heating systems. These are generally referred to as biomass boilers. Biomass has a wide definition, but in heating systems the most commonly used biomass is wood – in the form of logs, pellets or chips.

Things to consider

There are a number of considerations that need to be addressed, which may rule biomass out as a suitable option.

  • Concerns about air quality and the generation of pollutants;
  • Whether you have space for a large boiler and wood storage nearby - and how accessible these spaces are;
  • If you have a sustainable source of fuel, chips or pellets (Forest Research provide information including suppliers);
  • The DAC and any other permissions needed;
  • The costs (including fuel storage and delivery).

Forest Research has a useful guide to carrying out a feasibility study. A couple of churches which have biomass boilers are St Michael and All Angels Church, Withington, and St Paul's Church, Gulworthy Cross.

The Church of England Environment Programme webinars

The national series of webinars on getting to net zero contains helpful information on a range of topics, including whether or not to replace your existing heating system and choosing the best heating system for your church (starts at six minutes in). 

These will help you assess the suitability of options for your church and provides a list of things to consider as you develop a project. The Church of England also have a page of advice for churches on renewable energy, including biomass.

Further advice on woodfuel

You might find it useful to contact the Oxfordshire Woodfuel Programme who provide advice and support in this area.

The Energy Saving Trust provides lots of information on renewable energy, including woodfuel. Forest Research have a guide to medium-scale woodchip and pellet systems.  

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Page last updated: 7th January 2022 10:58 AM