Free biomass boilers

We are using two funds to help an environmental co-operative to install and maintain energy efficient biomass boilers in church and community buildings free of charge.

The free boiler scheme is being pioneered by Manchester-based Biomass Energy Cooperative supported by loans from Co-operative & Community Finance and The Co-operative Loan Fund.

This week the new biomass boiler at St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Birkenhead will be switched on, and the installation at St Theresa’s in Blacon, Chester, is well under way. Both churches were struggling with old inefficient oil boilers that they could not easily afford to replace. Now they will benefit from hot water and heating provided by boilers fuelled by renewable resources. There is no installation charge and no maintenance costs – the churches will just pay for the heat they use over the next 20 years at an agreed rate, which will be significantly less that what they paid in the past.

Biomass Energy Cooperative can afford to do this because it will receive payments from the Renewable Heat Incentive, a government initiative to encourage the use of renewable energy. The loans provided the initial capital needed to purchase the first two boilers.

Angela Davies, one of the directors of Biomass Energy Cooperative, said: “Our free boiler scheme is of particular interest to churches and community organisations that want the environmental and financial benefits of a biomass system, but who are unwilling or unable to invest capital in a relatively long project.

“It’s a great scheme for the customer, the co-op and the environment. I’d like to thank Co-operative & Community Finance for helping to make it happen.”

Biomass Energy Cooperative is a worker co-operative with four members. It was set up in 2011 by people with a commitment to co-operative values and a determination to do something practical to combat climate change. The Co-operative Loan Fund helped to finance some of the start-up costs.

Last year the Biomass Energy Cooperative became the sole UK distributor for Multibio boilers (made in the Czech Republic). Unlike most biomass boilers, which burn only wood pellets, Multibio boilers can burn a range of agri-fuels including rape straw, wheat straw and olive kernels.