Commercial Biomass Boiler Systems: Top Pros and Cons

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Perhaps since the 1960s, Americans have been fascinated by the concept of the coming future, developing technologies beyond our wildest imagination—from solar-powered airplanes and electric vehicles to the modern-day smartphone. Making the switch to renewable energy systems generally takes a leap of faith on the part of the investor, as it’s not yet the majority or the norm—but along with the courage it takes to dive into the unknown often come financial, practical, and ecological incentives, whether you are looking to equip your home or business with a new power setup. In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of commercial biomass boiler systems, including some of the basic fundamentals of biomass energy!

What Is a Biomass Boiler?

Well, we can only answer this question if we first know what biomass is. Biomass fuels are typically described as “organic matter” that can be used to generate electricity through various means; these fuels include rotation crop debris and other plant material like compost, wood components from forestry work, mills, and urban waste, and even animal feces like cow poop.

However, many property owners tend to opt for the wood chip or wood pellet boiler systems, as wood scraps are relatively easy to come by (you can even forage for your fuel!) and the whole process has a neutral net carbon output. This is because the trees collect carbon from the atmosphere during their life, which is then released during the process of burning—no extra carbon is created.

Which Types of Fuels Are Considered Biomass?

By nature, biomass fuels are abundant, renewable, and typically would otherwise end up as waste or in a landfill—so there are a number of different types of material that can qualify as a biomass energy source. In general, these fuel types can be broken down into the following four categories: alcohol fuels like biodiesel, landfill gas or biogas, organic waste products, and agricultural and wood products. For the purposes of this article, we will be talking about biomass boilers that run on wood byproducts that are a natural result of forestry work, wood production, construction, and other endeavors.

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Are Biomass Boilers Suitable for Commercial AND Residential Spaces?

Of course, if you’re thinking of installing a biomass boiler, you’ll likely have certain questions about their efficiency, carbon footprint, costs, and more. While many individuals make the leap to biomass boiler systems within their private homes, there are a few entrepreneurs that are looking to take this step to heat their businesses and corporate offices as well. But is installing a commercial biomass boiler worth it? In this section, we will look at the pros and cons associated with this process, so you can decide for yourself if making the transition is the right move for your space.

Pros of a Commercial Biomass Boiler System

Even if you don’t believe in investing in technologies to “save our planet,” most business owners can get behind a smart financial investment—regardless of any connotations, political or otherwise. Here are some of the benefits associated with making the switch to a commercial biomass boiler:

1.     Tax credits: Regardless of how you personally view the problem of climate change, it’s hard to argue with tax incentives for your business. In fact, new biomass systems with high-efficiency ratings will be offered a 30% tax credit capped at $2,000 as of the first of January in 2023! Isn’t it refreshing to find new ways to save on taxes?

2.     Low cost of fuel: Just because high-tech biomass boilers happen to be a “newer” technology doesn’t mean the fuel for them is expensive. In fact, a common fuel for many biomass boilers is wood waste products—which can cost as much as natural gas, or even less. This low-cost fuel would otherwise be destined for the landfill and does not have to be painstakingly harvested like other fossil fuel resources.

3.     High efficiency: Wood chip boilers nowadays usually offer an efficiency level of 80% or more—with new technology developing every year for better ways to harness this energy. This puts them about on pace with regular, fossil-fuel-powered boilers, which tend to operate at around 90% efficiency. This means you are spending less on fuel over time while keeping your energy bills as low as possible!

4.     Serves two functions: Wood pellet biomass boilers not only space heat your home or business, but they can also double as a hot water heater. This can save you from installing redundant hardware or energy systems by covering two basic human needs at once.

5.     Self-sufficiency and independence: It’s not necessarily a bad thing to rely on existing electricity infrastructure to power your home or business—however, garnering your own energy can protect you in the event of an emergency or natural disaster while also providing a sense of autonomy and capability as well. That way, if the larger system goes down, you still have heat and fuel to keep life moving forward—and even keep the doors of your business open longer.

6.     Relatively simple maintenance needs: While there are some amazingly mechanized boiler systems out there, fortunately, they tend to require little weekly maintenance from the home or business owner. Typically, all that is needed is for the property owner to sweep out the ashy byproducts of the combustion process, provide a quick clean to the unit, and refill the wood chip hopper to keep things running at peak efficiency.

7.     Neutral ecological impact: If you are interested in conserving natural resources and leaving behind a habitable planet for our children, biomass boilers come with the added perk of being carbon neutral. Fewer carbon emissions mean a cleaner atmosphere in the present while setting future generations up for the best lifestyle possible.

Cons of a Commercial Biomass Boiler System

With developing technologies, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows; in fact, there happen to be a few downsides associated with biomass boilers in a commercial setting in addition to the many reasons to love this tactical business step. Here are the cons of installing a commercial biomass boiler:

1. Boilers, thermal tanks, water heaters, and wood chip containers take up space: Wood chip boiler systems may be able to compete with fossil fuel-powered boilers in terms of efficiency while also offering dual-purpose benefits—but they do tend to take up a significant amount of physical space. Especially if you operate in smaller quarters, the physical dimensional requirements of your desired boiler system are something to consider before making this change.

2.     Initial cost of investment: Alas, nothing in life is free—so changing your inherent power systems naturally does come at a cost! The range of costs for the systems themselves and their installation spans from about $7,500 to as much as $20,000 for the most advanced boiler systems capable of heating the largest spaces. Keep in mind you will also have to annually have your equipment serviced, and monthly bills will be about the same as they are for a natural gas-powered boiler—typically between $35 and $50 per month for the cost of utilities.

3.     Requires annual maintenance: As we mentioned earlier, wood chip boilers do require annual maintenance to keep running their best. While this can sometimes come with an annual touch-up fee, given the fact that keeping your boiler system running at peak efficiency optimizes your fuel-to-energy output, taking care of your equipment once a year is not a bad price to pay.

4.     Fuel must be kept in the right conditions: It would be hard to get the most efficiency out of contaminated or faulty fuel. Anyone who has ever experienced water leaking into their car’s gas tank knows the truth about this! Likewise, biomass fuels must be kept in the proper condition in order for the best energy production. For example, wood pellets must be kept dry and ready for combustion.

5.     Hassle of switching from “the grid” to autonomous power sources: It can be a hassle to try new things. Making the switch from “regular” power sources to renewable ones can come not only with an initial cost but also with a transitional period where your new boiler system is being installed. For some business owners, this is valuable time their company could be serving customers and collecting revenue, which causes them to reflect on the timing of this type of investment.

Best Commercial Biomass Bioler Installation Near Me

You don’t have to feel like the world is ending to be interested in renewable sources of energy. In fact, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that by the year 2050, nearly 45% of the nation’s energy will come from renewable sources. As more and more Americans invest in cheaper energy alternatives, furthered independence, and a better future for their grandchildren, these numbers are only expected to increase—especially as technology continues to develop and improve.

Are you interested in the most competitive commercial biomass boiler system offered in Burlington, MA, and beyond? Contact the professionals at Caluwe, Inc. today to talk with a representative about how we can set you up for a better future!