Established in 1999, Econergy is the widely acknowledged UK leader in the design and supply of complete biomass heating solutions to the public and private sectors. Delivering commercial projects to end customers directly, or through third-party contractors, Econergy’s national service team, together with regional service engineers, provides UK wide support. In 2009, the company received a substantial investment from Centrica plc (British Gas), who now own 19 per cent of the business, and by the end of 2010 Econergy had successfully sold approximately 500 projects around the country: “As a company, Econergy is focused on the complete design and supply of biomass heating solutions,” explains Chris Miles, managing director of Econergy.
By working in close co-operation with consultants, architects, contractors and end users, Econergy defines and delivers solutions that meet the real needs of its customers, while delivering minimum life-time cost of ownership. Offering a complete turnkey solution, Econergy designs, manages, installs and commissions wood chip boilers, wood pellet boilers and log boilers as well as a full range of fuel reception and handling solutions. On top of these services the company is similarly able to offer biomass community and district heating, long-term heat supplies, service support, training and maintenance, financing solutions and has a national network of local installers for domestic customers. A low cost, low carbon, renewable fuel, biomass heating involves the combustion of wood chip, pellets or logs to provide heat and hot water. One of the biggest benefits of wood fuelled heating is that it reduces carbon dioxide emissions substantially compared to fossil fuels, even when transport and processing emissions are considered. According to the Environment Agency, locally sourced wood chip heating delivers a 95 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions when compared to that of a gas boiler. Furthermore, it is a legal requirement in the UK that new trees are always planted when mature trees are felled.
“The UK government has set itself a target to deliver 12 per cent of all heat from renewable sources by 2020,” Chris says. “The Government forecast that nearly 95 per cent of this heat is expected to come from commercial, industrial and community heating installations. The Renewables Roadmap published by DECC in July 2011 forecast that close to two-thirds of this will be delivered through biomass.” This market growth will be driven by the widely publicised Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) that is being introduced in September 2011.
As the use of biomass boilers in cities increases, closer attention is being paid to the emissions of particulates and NOX. Econergy has been leading the sector in working closely with regulatory authorities to minimise the impact of these emissions on air quality through tighter policies and improved technology. Only best-in-class products like Fröling and KWB boilers, which are offered by Econergy, will be eligible for use under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) once tighter emissions regulations are introduced in October 2012. Econergy also offers high performance ceramic filters to remove virtually all particulates, which are now required some inner cities like London where particulate emissions are already a critical issue.
Having sold hundreds of projects, a glance over the company’s portfolio highlights its ability to undertake a diverse range of tasks. An example of Econergy’s work in the domestic housing sector can be found in the award winning Rocks Green, Ludlow, a 91-house development by South Shropshire Housing Association. Here the company completed the turnkey design and supply for the biomass community heating system including energy centre underground heating mains, and 91 heat interface units. Another example of Econergy’s work in the housing market would be the retrofitting of Fröling boilers into a 147 flat complex in Barnsley over six years ago, the first of 22 public sector boiler biomass projects in the town.
There are a vast number of case studies that showcase the company’s work on small and large projects. In the education sector alone, Econergy has over 80 installations. These range from Shortwood primary School, Telford where a 150kW wood chip boiler was installed in 2008 to the Royal Agricultural College where Econergy commissioned a 500kW wood chip boiler and heat network earlier this year. The trust customers have in Econergy, and the services it provides, can also be seen in the 15 National Trust sites that are equipped with Econergy-supplied biomass boilers, with another one ordered this month. One of these can be found at Scots Gap, where the company has installed a containerised 85kW Fröling wood chip boiler package including fuel store, flue and all the necessary piping, mechanical and electrical work.
“One sector that is growing really quickly today is community heating,” highlights Chris. “This year Econergy has secured projects with the local councils of Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Walsall and Stockport to replace gas boilers or electrical heating systems, and retrofit biomass boilers for large community schemes. Where electric heating is replaced, these projects include the installation of a new ‘wet’ heat distribution system and new radiators in all flats. In Wolverhampton alone Econergy is in the process of installing a one-megawatt biomass boiler system to deliver 50 per cent of the heat being supplied to a complex of 1200 flats.”
Econergy’s long-standing knowledge and unique expertise sets it apart from similar companies within the industry. The company’s products are accompanied by turnkey design capabilities that cover civil, mechanical and electrical wood boiler fuel reception and a deep understanding of fuel supply and fuel processing. As the market leader in its field of business, Econergy continues to go from strength-to-strength; offering its customers and clients either the lowest total installed cost or total lifetime cost. “The single most important strength of Econergy is its ability to deliver complete solutions from conception through the whole life of the installation. This is a company that understands building’s services and controls, heating systems, district heating and the procurement and manufacture of biomass fuels. Unlike the big commercial boiler supply companies it is able to design, supply and commission custom-built systems that offer customers long-term heat,” Chris continues.
With the market for renewable heat growing substantially and the synergy between Econergy and British Gas at its strongest level to date, Chris emphasises that the focus for the company is now on growing a wider variety of business offerings optimised for different market sectors: “The company’s project business will continue to grow strongly as the RHI drives the market. Econergy predicts that over the next five years its service and biomass heat supply will become increasingly important to where it eventually represents between 30 and 50 per cent of the company’s total business. Being a relatively low cost, sustainable source of renewable energy, biomass has the full support of the UK government and will play a huge role in helping the country attain its 2020 renewable energy targets.”