Penrith Rugby Club commissions a biomass boiler

Penrith RUFC Ltd, incorporating Penrith Squash & Racketball, has installed and commissioned a 199kw biomass boiler, as part of its ongoing commitment to embrace renewable energy initiatives.

The supply contractor is Atkinson Renewable Energy, part of Atkinson Building Contractors Ltd and Chris Lilley, the club’s accountant, has managed the project from start to finish.

With specialist advice from Stobart Energy and finance support from the club’s parent body, the Rugby Football Union (RFU), the club is embarking on a 20-year project to switch from the fossil fuel to renewable and sustainable wood pellet fuel, in order to drastically reduce its carbon footprint.

The club has looked at numerous renewable schemes over the last four years, including wind turbines, solar PV, ground/air source heating, but the prospect of supplying all heating requirements for both the rugby clubhouse and squash courts with biomass, proved too attractive.

Stuart Mill, club president said: “This is an exciting development for the club. Over the last 12 months, we have secured £175,000 of funding and grants to improve the playing pitches, install second and third team pitch floodlighting, and now provide environmental friendly clubhouse and squash court heating.  This all contributes to our commitment to provide Penrith and Eden district with first class sporting facilities for both adults and youngsters.”

Detailed feasibility studies were entered into and five different suppliers were asked to quote. In the end, Atkinson’s overall professional package, competitive pricing and long term relationship convinced the club’s board of directors that the order should be placed with them.

The government’s renewable subsidies are being progressively reviewed and reduced so there was a deadline of 31st March in order to get the boiler installed, commissioned and registered with Ofgem.

With financing from the RFU, the project will create positive cash flows from day one, allowing the club to re-invest into community rugby with its 12 youth teams and three senior teams.  This comes on the back of a £25,000 scheme to renovate all three pitches and a Sport England £60,000 funded programme for the installation of floodlights for the second and third team pitches.

“Hosting the World Cup provides an opportunity to deliver a huge participation legacy for rugby union and alongside this the RFU is acutely aware of the increasing financial burden faced by rugby clubs as the result of the year-on-year increases in energy prices over recent years. Therefore the RFU is committed to supporting projects that will make a real difference to club’s operational expenditure and long term sustainability, such as Penrith’s biomass boiler,” said RFU area facilities manager Alex Bowden.

“Penrith is one of many clubs across England benefitting from investment through the Rugby Football Foundation”.

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Chairman of the squash and racketball club, Richard Utting added: “This is a brilliant development for the club as it will mean that our members will experience warm courts at all the times of the day. We believe we are the first squash club in the UK to have direct court heating provided by a biomass boiler, which is quite a milestone in squash club development”.

The official opening ceremony of the boiler complex will take place on Saturday 11th April, when the first team play their last home match of the season, with main club sponsor, AW Jenkinson Forest Products in attendance.