'Biomass' refers to burnable material from wood or other plants, which usually includes forestry residues, sawdust, straw, or fast-growing wood or grass plants. These can be burnt in a large boiler to provide heat for a district heating system, or to produce steam to generate electricity for a community (this is called 'combined heat and power' or CHP).

Things to consider:

Do you have a sustainable local supply of fuel?
You'll need a reliable source of good quality fuel, and the closer this is to the boiler, the lower the environmental cost of transportation.

Do you have space for a boiler and fuel store?
Biomass boilers tend to be bigger than conventional oil or gas boilers and the fuel needs to be stored on site, so consider if you have a big enough space.

Will there be someone available to arrange fuel deliveries and maintenance of the system?
Although the systems can be well automated, there will need to be someone available to provide help with deliveries of fuel. You will also need to have someone on hand to provide basic maintenance to the boiler on a regular basis.

For combined heat and power: can the heat produced by the system be used locally?
Combined heat and power systems produce significant amounts of heat alongside the electricity generated. If this is not used, the heat energy is wasted and the system is not as efficient.

For more guidance and resources about biomass and disctrict heating systems, check out the films, links and downloads to the right.