3 months ago
Now Reading: Biomass and Energy Saving: a winning combination for your heating
3 months ago
It is often said that adopting a sustainable lifestyle requires considerable economic investment. However, in the case of biomass heating, you may obtain a double benefit: environmental sustainability and economic savings.
These two concepts are extremely important, the former arousing increasing interest among people and the latter always remaining relevant.
So let’s examine eco-sustainability and savings considering the installation of biomass stoves or fireplaces.
The image of burning wood and smoke coming out of chimneys is often associated with the idea that this type of heating is not environmentally friendly. Why do we state the opposite?
Firewood and pellets are both biomass, and this is a strong point for environmental sustainability.
Biomass is constantly regenerated through a process involving solar energy, carbon dioxide, water and dissolved mineral salts. This continuous reproduction maintains the balance of the ecosystem, attributing it an important property: renewability.
Biomass sold for stoves and fireplaces come from timber cutting, which is very different from deforestation.
Indeed, we must distinguish between:
Therefore, timber cutting is a fundamental activity to preserve the health of forests. Thanks to the stringent community, national and regional standards, obtaining biomass for heating is possible without compromising the growth of forests, which continue to thrive and embellish our territory with its lush vegetation.
This is a significant difference comparing to fossil fuels, which require the extraction of subsoil materials that have taken millions of years to form and will take just as long to regenerate again.
Furthermore, biomass does not release new CO2 into the atmosphere, as it is part of a natural cycle that continues uninterruptedly. As explained by FOEN (Federal Office for the Environment of the Swiss Confederation):
The combustion of wood, in fact, releases the amount of CO2 (carbon dioxide) that was previously absorbed by the trees during their growth. If wood were left to rot in the forest, the same amount would still be released into the atmosphere. The use of firewood, therefore, has a balance of zero CO2 emissions and does not fuel the greenhouse effect.
Therefore, the amount of CO2 released during combustion is the same that would be released in the decomposition process and does not contribute to global warming, unlike what happens with gas, petroleum and coal.
Today, the CO2 emissions of a pellet or wood-burning heating system are less than a tenth compared to those produced by diesel: for one Megawatt-hour of energy, diesel emits 326 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere, while pellet only releases 29 kg.
For transparency, we report that the emission of fine particles is often associated with biomass combustion. However, it must be considered that the levels of particulate matter emitted by stoves and fireplaces are increasingly reduced, both thanks to the technological developments of companies such as Piazzetta and to the application of more stringent standards.
In our laboratories, we constantly study new solutions to develop products that ensure increasingly higher efficiency and lower consumption levels, with the aim of reducing the emission of fine particles to the minimum possible.
The use of pellets and wood offers numerous advantages which contribute to savings. High energy efficiency, system flexibility that allows turning on the appliance only when necessary, lower cost of fuel and use of modern generators, all lead towards the same conclusion: when it comes to heating, you can save money.
Wood and pellet offer different advantages. The first is highly and readily available, it has a low cost, is easy to use and allows the stove to be used even without electricity. The second has very low humidity which allows for longer burning and more heat production (with the same weight as wood), it is easy to manage and to store, it allows you to program the stove switching on and off (this also produces savings) and to manage heat more easily by setting temperature and ventilation.
Can this savings be quantified?
The blog “Energia dal Legno” (Energy from Wood) presented an estimated calculation of the savings from a pellet stove integrated in the heating system in a 100 sq.m. house.
The energy requirement of a house of this size is estimated at 12 MWh. Assuming that the stove contributes to 50% of the total heating and considering a cost of € 65 per MWh, the cost of € 390 would allow for savings of 6% on methane, 25% on diesel and even 36% on LPG.
Some users might complain about biomass price fluctuations. However, at present, the price per kilo has returned to pre-Russian-Ukrainian conflict levels. Buying a good supply of pellets or wood right now can offer a significant advantage for next winter, avoiding possible unpleasant surprises that cannot be excluded.
Finally, it is important to consider that if there were a new simultaneous increase in both biomass and gas prices, the economic benefits would still be in favor of biomass, even though to a lesser extent.