Get paid to keep warm – using miscanthus and SRC to heat your building

Farmers and landowners that grow their own energy crops and use them to heat their own buildings can make a triple whammy of savings. Firstly, there’s the savings on fossil fuel use. Secondly theres the savings on bought in wood. Thirdly, if you install a biomass boiler you’ll qualify for the Governments Renewable Heat Incentive. The aim of the RHI is to increase the amount of renewable energy production in the UK by encouraging domestic and non-domestics users to install renewable energy technologies such as biomass boilers. Farms are excellent candidates for biomass heating as they generally have a relatively high heat demand and typically have space to accommodate a boiler and fuel store.

The way the RHI works is that a non domestic user will be given an annual rebate from the Government based on the biomass boiler meter readings. The RHI payments are guaranteed for 20 years and will go up in line with inflation. Below are several scenarios showing the returns that can be made from the RHI.

  Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3
Boiler Size (kW)      70     150     199
Annual heat requirement (kWh/yr)    100,000    200,000    320,000
Annual heating hours       1,429       1,333       1,608
Annual RHI Income (£/yr)  £   7,143  £  15,629  £  21,828




Woodfuel Price (£/t)  £   50.00  £   90.00  £   85.00
Woodfuel Moisture content 35% 30% 30%
Annual woodfuel demand (t/yr) 37 67 107
Annual Woodfuel Cost (£/yr)  £   1,834  £   6,040  £   9,126
Net Annual Revenue (RHI-fuel cost in £/yr)  £   5,309  £   9,589  £  12,701




Displaced fossil fuel oil gas oil
Displaced fossil fuel price (p/kWh) 5.9 3.9 5.9
Annual fossil fuel cost (£/yr)  £   6,941  £   8,667  £  20,978
Total Annual Savings (£/yr)  £  12,250  £  18,256  £  33,679

Annual savings achievable from replacing fossil fuel boilers with woodfuel

(Source: Biomass Energy Centre )

By growing your own wood fuel you can insulate yourself from future price rises. Once established your only costs will be harvesting and storage. As the crops will be growing on your doorstep you won’t have to worry about any increase in transport costs.

A farm using 10,000 litres of oil per year (~100,000 kWh) for heating would require about 37 tonnes of woodfuel per annum. This could be produced by growing just 3 hectares of SRC willows or miscanthus. 

Below are some examples of farmers we’ve helped get maximum benefit from the RHI by using their own miscanthus. 

Case study 1: Poultry farmer, Somerset

Crops for Energy produced a feasibility study on the potential of a biomass boiler for a small poultry producer. Based on the advice provided a 130 kW boiler was installed which uses miscanthus grown on the farm. The new boiler should provide annual savings of over £20,000/yr and generate a net profit of over £350,000 over a 20 year period (Based on current LPG prices). 

Case study 2: Farm Cottages, Cornwall

Crops for Energy are project managing the installation of a biomass district heating scheme and the planting of 5.5 hectares of miscanthus to provide the fuel. The 199 kW installation should provide annual savings of £33,000.  Based on current oil prices the system should generate a net profit of over £500,000 over a 20 year period.

Crops for Energy are your one stop shop for helping you grow and use your own woodfuel in order to get the maximum benefit from the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive.

Here are some ways we can help:

Free and discounted consultancy support for SW Farmers

Crops for Energy are involved in the Resource Efficiency for Farms (R4F) scheme delivered by Business Link. This support package involves a free visit to the site during which an action plan is drawn up. Following the completion of the action plan the client can request two further days of discounted technical support costing £150 per day. The technical support can be used to provide help with a boiler feasibility and getting quotes from installers etc. You can find out more about the scheme and arrange a visit by phoning 08456 047 047 or logging on here.

Making the right decisions

We produce feasibility studies on the practical and economic potential of biomass boilers for your buildings and can project manage the installation for you. We know all the boilers that can work with miscanthus chip and can get our customers a discount on thepurchase price. By using Crops for Energy you can get all the benefits with the least hassle.

Growing your own

We can look at the best energy crop option for you, your land, your boiler and your customers. We can also provide turn key management options – Energy crops scheme application, land preparation, plant supply, contract planting, site walks, scrupulous agronomic advice and harvesting. By using Crops for Energy you can be sure you’ll get the best yields.

Understanding your resource

We can help you quantify your own woodfuel resources from tree management and apply for funding through the Woodfuel Woodland Improvement Grant. This will help you provide woodfuel for your own use and perhaps sell the surplus on to others.

Getting people up to speed

Our training courses cover all aspects growing and using woodfuel. Our Woodfuel Self Supply is being rolled out across the SW. The course looks at how to estimate the amount of woodfuel you need for your premises from a variety of biomass resources (e.g. existing woodland, straw, energy crops and short rotation forestry) and provides insight into the best types and makes of boilers for the different fuels covered. You’ll get all the information you need to DIY.

Whatever your biomass energy needs Crops for Energy can help!

For more information call Crops for Energy on 0844 249 2901 or email