Saving millions... GG Eco Solutions biomass energy partnership warms Culford School



Culford School's woodchip heat system will hit 3 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) by its first anniversary on 1 March. Designed, built and run by E equals' client GG Eco Solutions, the system cuts their heating bills by over 25% and saves CO2 equal to driving 6.3 million kilometres a year, using 100% sustainable biomass. The school also invests no capital.

Cambridgeshire's GG Eco Solutions are supplying extremely low carbon sustainable energy to Culford School in Suffolk, under a 15-year contract begun in March 2012. The installation is fast approaching its first anniversary and will have delivered well over 3 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of heat by then, replacing around 400,000 litres of heating oil. The CO2 saved  (versus Culford’s previous oil-fired system) is equal to a car driving 6.3 million kilometres a year  -that's more than three times around the equator every week! And with recent coverage about a 'double gas squeeze' in 2015-18, biomass-based energy independence has never made more sense. 

The school did not have to project-manage installation, and they pay out no capital: The energy is supplied to buildings throughout the campus from a newly installed biomass energy system, insulated underground pipe network and heat exchange system designed, installed, maintained and funded by GG Eco Solutions. The school pay only for heat used, via an accredited heat meter.The system suits any high-heat-use environment, from education to manufacturing.

GG Eco Solutions have recently signed a similar agreement with another school in Cambridgeshire: further details of this remain subject to planning and other approvals.

The wood chip for Culford is sustainably sourced from local forests and woodland, predominantly Thetford Forest. It is a by-product of the commercial management of the timber resource, with the high grade wood going into industry and construction, and the lower grades being available for energy generation. By providing a further commercial market for the outputs of woodland management, the use of wood for energy also supports the management of many thousands of hectares of woodland in the UK, which may otherwise be left unmanaged. This has positive benefits to the local economy, and also provides a significant improvement in woodland biodiversity.

GG Eco Solutions' Managing Director Greg Hilton, who has been working in biomass energy since 1995, commented: ''People perhaps don't realise how efficient modern biomass (wood) boilers are or how widespread it is in Europe already. For example, this system - biomass heating using a shared boiler - is the most common form of heating for houses in Sweden, has over 30% of the heat market in Germany, and is also widely used across the continent for larger premises like schools and hotels. We are fortunate to be partly Scandinavian owned, so we employ Scandinavian experts as well as UK engineers.'

The time is now
Greg was also keen to emphasise the timeliness of this decision. 'With recent coverage about the 'double gas squeeze' by 2015, current projections for all fossil fuel prices, and the various government incentives and emissions penalties in place, the numbers are compelling - it seems that many people have already realised that the time to go green really is now'. 

Culford School Operations Director Crispin Muir concludes: 'For Culford School, installing the biomass boiler has been absolutely the right thing to do and I would heartily encourage other schools to consider it as a viable option. We, as a school, take the issue of sustainability very seriously and as actions speak louder than words, I think everyone now knows we mean business!’

E Equals is a Network member specialising in marketing and PR for the energy sector. 

Contacts: E equals 01223 520 333

GG Eco Solutions: 01223 651415


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