Stay ahead of the game and consider your fuel supply

Monday, 6 April 2020

As we enter the second week of strict restrictions on movement with many businesses working entirely from home, we are beginning to hear reports of difficulties in getting heating fuel supplies, both renewable and non-renewable.

This may be as a result of some businesses closing because of lack of staff, closing because they feel it the responsible thing to do to protect their staff and customers, or simply because some companies are not able to continue trading effectively. In addition, even if the fuel supplier continues to trade, some of the raw materials (for example for making woodfuels) are seemingly getting difficult to obtain.

To help reduce the risk of limited fuel supplies it makes sense to plan further ahead than you might normally do. Take regular fuel stock levels and start the ordering process early so that your chosen supplier can allocate fuel to you. Also, be prepared to be flexible about dates and times that the deliveries can be made. In line with government advice you should minimise contact with the delivery driver and ensure social distancing guidelines are observed.

Whilst fuel oils are relatively straightforward, with each supplier generally providing fuel of identical specification, this is not the case when it comes to sourcing fuel for your biomass boiler. If you are RHI accredited there is the added complication of ensuring you remain within the RHI eligibility of your accreditation. So, whilst it may seem practical to be flexible about the fuel you can burn, you should bear in mind the following:

  • Find your RHI accreditation application and pay close attention to the descriptions of fuels you can use. These will be in several places –
    • The application form itself online
    • Boiler documentation, including nameplate
    • Emissions certificate
    • Fuel Measurement and Sampling Questionnaire (FMSQ)
  • If necessary, talk to your boiler installer/maintenance team about the range of fuels suitable for the boiler.
  • If there are suitable alternatives not mentioned in your accreditation you will need to lodge an application amendment with Ofgem
  • If you have alternative fuel storage be prepared to use it, although this should be a covered area and have walls/floor suitable for receiving bulk fuels
  • Ensure all the paperwork is in good order – fuel volumes, moisture contents, BSL numbers origin, type etc.
  • When swapping fuels ensure the settings of your boiler are matched to the specification of the fuel to maintain efficiency and air quality
  • Maintain good records of when the fuels change, including all relevant meter readings (heat and input fuels)
  • Make sure your back-up heating system is operational and is ready to go in case you are unable to continue to operate your biomass boiler

The government has included fuel suppliers, including those supplying renewable fuels, as key workers within their guidance in order to minimise the disruption to UK business. Therefore these business are allowed to continue to trade and deliveries are essential journeys. We are hopeful that this is a short-term problem whilst we all adapt to the restrictions and as we come into warmer weather that there will be less overall demand which will free up supplies for those still needing fuels.

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