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Biomass for Bede's

A bespoke financing package has enabled the East Sussex independent school to switch to wood pellet biomass boilers

Posted by Dave Higgitt | January 08, 2015 | Sustainability

Bede’s School has undertaken a £1.2 million biomass heating project. With the aid of a tailored finance package from the energy efficiency financing scheme (EEF), the co-educational independent day and boarding school in East Sussex is seeking to cut energy bills and improve energy efficiency with what is one of the largest biomass heating projects undertaken in the UK education sector to date.

The green investment saw the replacement of the school’s 23 existing liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and oil boilers with three wood pellet biomass boilers, which will provide heating and hot water for the senior school and the three boarding properties. CPL Renewables, a UK company specialising in renewable energy heating systems, was selected as the technology partner for the conversion project.

As a recognised supplier of the energy efficiency financing scheme, CPL Renewables was able to help Bede’s realise its investment through a financing package tailored to the school’s needs and circumstances. With a payback period of 10 years, the £1.2 million tailored package included the acquisition of the biomass boilers and their installation, but also covered the renovation of the underground electrical infrastructure as well as the installation of a building management system (BMS) – a computerised temperature control and monitoring system.

Fuelled by wood pellets sourced from sustainable British woodlands, the biomass boilers are predicted to achieve energy savings of £70,000 per annum, along with an annual reduction of carbon emissions by over 580 tonnes. In addition, the school also benefits from renewable heat incentive (RHI) payments as part of the implementation.

Dr Richard Maloney, headmaster of Bede’s senior school, says: “At Bede’s, we pride ourselves on our proactive pursuit of a green strategy and seize every opportunity available to us to optimise our energy consumption and reduce our carbon footprint. We are really delighted with the installation of biomass boilers. With the energy savings and the income from the RHI scheme, we will be cash positive from year one onwards. The accessibility and affordability of the EEF scheme has enabled us to finance and prioritise green initiatives using tailored financing designed to meet our environmental goals.” 

The EEF scheme, a joint initiative between Siemens Financial Services Limited (SFS) and the Carbon Trust, is designed to provide finance for energy-efficient equipment and renewable energy technologies for organisations, where the expected savings in energy costs and/or income from energy generation offset the monthly equipment finance costs, effectively making the investment zero net cost or even cash positive.

The successful implementation of the renewable energy project was underpinned by a bespoke EEF funding package which took into account the specific circumstances of the school as well as the working capital needs of its equipment supplier. The flexible financing arrangements allowed Bede’s to fund the VAT element of the project which enhanced their cashflow. The financing arrangement also allowed staged payments to CPL Renewables within the six-month implementation period, providing the equipment supplier with ongoing liquidity for the running of the project.

Mark Harper, general manager at CPL Renewables, comments: “Given that a typical biomass installation can be much more expensive than a normal fossil fuel solution, specialist financing plays a particularly crucial role in enabling large-scale biomass heating projects. As the chosen technology partner at Bede’s, we are pleased that we were able to offer the school an all-round solution encompassing both technology and finance, helping it achieve sustainability in both financial and environmental sense.”

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