Pentland Biomass is a Scottish leader in the biomass energy sector. The company grew out of a respected garden centre and nursery located on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Pentland started off in 2006 with a single wood chip boiler providing heat to the plant nursery. Since then, they’ve gone from strength to strength developing their own expertise and supply chain in this growing field of renewable energy.
Renewable wood fuel services and products
Pentland Biomass has grown its operations considerably and focuses on three areas:
- Wood-based fuel alternatives to oil, gas and coal.
- Wood chipping infrastructure and services
- Biomass-fuelled boiler design and installation
Pentland Biomass acquired a powerful wood chipper that could process whole trees. They sited their woodyard near the Pentland Hills and started to bring in local timber to produce wood fuel, initially around 2500 tonnes for the Pentland Plants nursery and garden centre.
The success of that venture gave the company sufficient momentum to grow and establish itself as the premier Scottish supplier to both residential and commercial clients with biomass energy needs.
Their expertise in biomass-based boilers comes from the unit the company fielded for Pentland Plants. With a capacity of two megawatts, it was sufficient to meet the garden centre’s heating and hot water needs. This is pretty significant since the boiler needed to heat up and provide sufficient hot water for a six-acre greenhouse.
The parent company and client, Pentland Plants Ltd, now reports that the new boiler essentially recouped its initial cost within two years and now consistently halves their energy bill.
This DIY spirit has given the company the necessary equipment, skills and experience to offer biomass energy design and commercial wood processing services to clients all over the UK.
Wood chipping, pellets and other products
Pentland Biomass processes timber in a variety of formats suitable for both commercial and residential uses.
Wood chip orders are customised to meet customer biomass specifications. This means that the company is able to cater to a variety of clients including Combined Heat and Power plants (CHP).
The company is able to produce 10,000 tonnes annually while sourcing wood locally from the nearby central belt, earning the resulting wood chips a BSL accreditation.
In an industrial-scale drying facility, timber can be dried to meet customer preferences right after the wood chips are produced. Along with the floor dryers, Pentland Biomass has invested £2m in chippers and timber trucks.
How are wood chips made?
To begin with, sustainably-grown larch or spruce trees are cut down in local forests. The timber is collected from the side of the road by a timber truck with a specialised trailer-mounted grappling arm.
The timber is then brought to the wood yard to be processed. There it will either be stacked to be seasoned by the elements for 12 months, or force-dried in the aforementioned wood dryer for faster results. The dryers are actually installed in the floor of a functional outbuilding so it can dry two separate orders simultaneously.
Different kinds of wood chippers are used depending on the type of wood. Wood moisture levels can be controlled through the drying and seasoning options, resulting in wood chips that have a moisture level of between 10 and 60%.
The chippers operated by Pentland biomass make short work of wooden logs. They can turn up to 60 tonnes of wood into a pile of chips in just one hour. They are fitted with an array of screens that control the wood chip size output.
Pentland Biomass distributes both UK and European wood pellet brands. All the wood pellets the company sells meet the ENplusA1 standard, meaning they offer a consistent burn profile and produce a reduced amount of ash.
For example, they currently sell Woodlets-branded pellets that are guaranteed to generate 4800kWh per tonne, as well as being sourced exclusively from national sustainable timber suppliers.
Additionally, all pellets sold by Pentland have Biomass Supply List registration, which makes them compliant with Ofgem guidelines regarding the Renewable Heat Incentive.
What is the Biomass Supply List (BSL)?This is a government-led certification standard that ensures that woodfuel used in biomass boilers is both sustainable and legally acquired. Wood pellets, chips, briquettes and logs all fall under the BSL. The scheme simplifies compliance requirements for energy consumers participating in the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). All they need to do is show that they burn BSL certified fuels in their boilers or stoves.
Pentland Biomass is also able to provide kiln-dried firewood in a range of quantities encompassing retail customers and commercial clients. Their online shop currently lets you order anywhere between 1m3 of bagged logs and 8m3, all packed up in a trailer. That should be enough to keep the home fires burning.
Prices range between £90.00 to £550.00 per order and the trailer-sized orders include local delivery for convenience.
Biomass boilers and heating systems
Biomass boilers are designed to be durable and provide households with sufficient storage as well as the opportunity to be increasingly energy independent. While biomass boilers generate ash, this byproduct can be used or sold as fertiliser.
Pentland Biomass has extensive experience with both domestic and commercial biomass boilers. The company has successfully installed 250 biomass boilers over the past ten years. They have successfully scaled designs from small boilers with a capacity under 20kW all the way to 1MW facilities.
Biomass boilers can be designed to reach a specific capacity and burn a specific type of biomass-based fuel, whether those are wood pellets, chips or logs. They also have a significant ace up their sleeve: since they don’t need gas or electricity to operate, they are immune to power cuts as long as they are supplied with biomass fuel.
Pentland Biomass contact details
There are several ways to get in touch with Pentland Biomass.
If you have an initial product or sales query, their online contact form is the best bet
For questions regarding a current order or project, email or phone is preferred for a fast turnaround.
Phone: 0131 440 7949
Domestic boiler maintenance
Pentland Biomass no longer carries out residential boiler servicing. The company recommends you contact XKY Energy.
Phone: 07921 147034
The same applies to larger biomass boilers. With this in mind, Pentland recommends getting in touch with Mike Blakeley at The Wood Heating Company Ltd.
Phone: 01670 739197
Is burning wood carbon neutral? Our Verdict
Both Pentland Biomass and the recently opened Templeborough Power Station claim that their biomass burning methods are renewable, environmentally-friendly and carbon neutral. How can they make such a claim if burning wood releases carbon into the atmosphere?
The validity of their carbon neutral claim solely hinges on the fact that the biomass they burn is Biomass Supply List compliant, which ensures it comes from sustainable forestry and energy crop farming.
The idea is that the amount of biomass being grown in forests and fields is equivalent to the biomass quantities being burned in power stations, boilers and furnaces. This is supposed to result in a carbon neutral outcome because the trees and energy crops being cultivated capture the carbon being put out by the burning biomass.
It’s worth noting that a similar argument is used to justify the idea of clean coal as an environmentally-friendly option. While this idea works from a big picture perspective, it does not account for inefficiencies and human error in the biomass cultivation and combustion cycle.
For example, if a plant manager is faced with a biomass fuel shortage and flouts sustainability best practices; even if only for a short while, such a lapse would negate the renewable argument completely. Additionally, the carbon neutral argument does not necessarily take into account the local air pollution impact of biomass burning.