Monday, July 31, 2006

What would €3 billion a Year Extra do for Ireland?

Martin Cronin of ForFas has published some very interesting figures on the Internet regarding Ireland's dependency on oil.

It seems that in 2004 we imported 9,000,000 tonnes of oil much of it used by ESB for electricity. That figure has probably increased to well over 10 million tonnes by now.

Now please forgive my bone headed attempts at maths in this attempted guess of a figure for the amount of money we send out of Ireland every year for oil.

There are roughly 8 barrels per tonne of oil.
10,000,000 tonnes x 8 barrels per tonne = 80,000,000 barrels of oil.
Todays price for oil is approximately $74 per barrel and rising!!
80,000,000 x $74 = $5,920,000,000 worth of oil.
$5,920,000,000 dollars = €4,640,000,000 Euro per year.

Ireland Gets €3 billion a year Bonus?

We could save up to 65% of our yearly oil bill of €4.64 billion if we got the finger out and rushed in Biomass for heating, electriciity and ethanol, and lots more wind farms for electricity.

What would over €3 Billion every year extra cash Euros floating around in Ireland do for the economy? Plus we would have many thousands of extra sustainable jobs created as an extra bonus.

I stand to be corrected on my figures - but I think I am no too daft in my guess!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Wood Pellet Problems and Associated Anxieties

Wood Pellet Problems and Associated Anxieties

The possible problems affecting a wood pellet heating system, from what I have gathered so far, would seem to be based around the following:

1. Pellets jamming in the auger and feed system.
2. Ash building up in the boiler or burner.
3. Poor ignition of the boiler at start up, possibly due to pellets being less than totally bone dry.
4. Problems with poor draught or too much draught from the chimney.
5. Questions on the life expectancy of the stainless steel burner grate, which is approximately €90 plus fitting costs.
6. Questions about the life expectancy of the Igniter Unit priced at €35 plus fitting costs.
7. Problems associated with the quality and storage of wood pellets.

Plus there are of course the unanswered questions leading to worry about the long-term availability, in sufficient quantities and at reasonable cost, of wood pellets.

Problems - Problems
and No Answers from the Agencies!

How Successful Will the SEI Drive be?

How Successful Will the SEI Drive be?

The more people I speak to about investing in alternative energy, the more I pick up a sense of doubt and hesitation. The grants being offered are really fantastic. However, there is a very poor level of real information available to the public which is leading to many people, including myself, having some serious doubts. There are questions which need to be answered like:

1. What systems are good value, (lists with direct price comparisons to other EU countries)?
2. Which are the most reliable systems, (based on independent tests and customer reviews)?
3. Who will sort out the problems with dealers and installers if I have them?
4. Who will guarantee fuel supply?
5. Who will guarantee stability in fuel prices?
6. If I have paid RipOff prices for equipment who will help me get the excess back?

Few, that I have talked to, are in a hurry to fork out several thousand Euro on top of the Grant for un-proven and un-guaranteed systems. Many will wait out most of the 12 months of the Grant period to see what happens. SEI seriously needs to address these question and worries.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

How much renewable energy can we actually make?

A Biomass Plantation can look Really Nice

How Much Energy Can We Make?

I have been trying to find out how much of our total energy needs we could realistically provide by means of Biomass and Wind. The following is an aggregate of some of the masses of information, indeed some very technical, available on the Internet.

Biomass Energy How Much?

Scientific estimates vary but there seems to be a general indication that Ireland could meet 45% of its entire electricity requirements by planting just 15% of arable land with biomass. We could also be producing ethanol to run cars and other engines from biomass.

Jobs from Biomass Production and Processing?

I wouldn't have a clue how to go about even looking up that sort of a figure. Maybe some very clever people who read this blog could suggest some estimates? In the meantime here are a few thoughts; for starters 15% of our arable land in full-time production would keep a lot of farmers and farm workers busy and a good steady income.

It would take a hell of a lot of harvesters to crop that many acres, lots of truck drivers to transport it, many workers at processing and drying plants, and then the "New" Irish Electricity Board (which hopefully will replace the present dinasaur) would have several thousand new jobs at all the small ultra-clean, sweet smelling, generating stations around Ireland. All of these jobs would be fully sustainable in the long term, unlike most industries which leave after a few of years when the grant runs out!

Wind Power How Much?

Some estimates suggest that wind could provide as much as 20% of our nations electrical needs. Maybe with more scientific improvements this figure could go even higher in the future?

That's a total of up to 65% of all our power needs produced by clean, job producing, renewable sources. That is without considering some hydro-electric, geo-thermal, wave and solar power generation.

Money Stays in Ireland!

We would not be sending Billions of Euro to our Arab friends to buy a dirty, finite, and short lived fuel. How much would that benefit the ecomomy?

Can it be Done - or am I only dreaming?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Say BioMass for Ireland

BioMass Cropping

Renewable Energy

I was so depressed writing the last Blog - I just had to get into this one to break the state of mind.

Wind farms are sprouting up all over Ireland, and it is great to see this trend towards clean renewable energy. However wind farms while great, only produce electricity. Biomass for power generation will additionally produce lots of jobs and improve the countryside.

I don't know if the 'powers that be' actually take the time to consider the additional benefits of Biomass when calculating the investment. It is true to say that, watt for watt, biomass energy is dearer than oil or gas, even at today high prices. But with gas or oil we are sending our money away from the country, and the money provides no investment, no jobs and no sustainability.

Growing Jobs as well as Power

If we switched to biomass energy, for a modest increase in price per watt of power, we would generate thousands of long-term 100% sustainable jobs, improve the environment, and beautify the countryside into the bargain. In addition to burning biomass to generate electricity, it can also be used to produce methanol, which can be used to run cars etc. Additionally some forms of biomass, especially hemp can be effectively used to produce methane gas.

We need to make the decisions NOW. In a few years the energy crisis will be fully upon us and it will be difficult if not impossible to achieve much then.

A BioMass Electricity Plant Clean Energy no Smells

We need:
1. Many thousands of acres put to biomass production. Needs lots of Government incentives.
2. Localised cropping, processing and storage facilities. Again it won't happen without the BIG plan and incentives.
3. Lots of locally sited small electricity generating units, which will produce almost no pollution and can be made to look OK in urban settings. Won't happen if left up the outdated dinosaur the ESB!

Oh God Save Us All - They are Insane

A Chernobyl child victim

An Irish Insane Answer to the Energy Crisis

A new Nuclear Energy Campaign group has been launched. It comprises a group of (MAD) scientists, moneymen and (ODD) bods. They are going to launch the Republic's first campaign group in favour of nuclear energy.

They are calling themselves Better Environment with Nuclear Energy (BENE). Their aim is to persuade the Government, industry and the public that a Chernoble future is good for us.

Chernobyl County Tipperary

They are saying that there are risks with nuclear power but claim they are 'manageable and acceptable'.

With Irish ways of doing things, and us Irish the inventors of "Murphy's Law" I know it would end up with Chenobyl looking like picnic. Ireland is rife with corruption and lazy ways of doing things, plus the political back-handers and brown envelopes.

Chernobyl Workers Most Now Dead from Radiation

Oh God,
they are stark raving mad.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Situation so far - Wait and See

The more I learn about Irelands wood pellet marketplace, the more unsure I become about investing in a home heating system based on such an ill-informed and unregulated situation.

I have spent over 4 month carefully investigating the following:

1. The types of heater available,
2. The prices, the "Special Irish Prices" or "Rip-Off Republic Specials", also know as "Post Grant Prices" which are between 33% and 100% higher than other EU countries.
3. The extraordinary cowboy and price gouger attitude of some SEI "Approved Installers"
4. The supply situation and prices of wood pellet fuel.
5. The storage and handling of wood pellets.
6. The reliability of wood pellet heating.

My Conclusions at this Time.

I have concluded so far that to invest at this time is not wise because:

1. There is no conclusive price information available for many manufacturers on their systems - some even prefer the gougers to set the price. However, the prices are starting to come down under the pressure of publicity.
2. The supply situation in Ireland for wood pellet fuel is anything but secure as yet.
3. Installation costs are still at the ridiculous stage. However, installers are multiplying and this will bring the installation price down in time.
4. The is no conclusive information on the long term reliability and value of the various heating systems.

I Will Wait and See

I will wait a bit longer and see some more before proceeding. I just cannot trust the Rip-Off Republic to do this good thing the right way. The Gombeen Men are thick on the ground taking advantage of every possible situation, not least the lack of clear information and unambiguous pricing.

What should happen?

SEI or another appointed agency should:

1. Demand that all manufacturers publish a recommended selling price. Also oversee spare-part availability and warranty arrangements.
2. SEI should publish it's own scale of recommended realistically based fees for installers. This to be done only after SEI consults some experts and gets it right. (Not like the sort of prices that SEI put out originally as being typical wood pellet heater prices of €7000 to €12000, whereas we all now know you can get a perfectly good system for under €5000)
3. SEI take on board a "price watch" and a "quality watch" and punish offenders by blacklisting.
4. SEI take on board a supply and price watch for wood pellets and inform the public on a weekly basis of the price and availability of the fuel.

Bottom Line?
Poor Information and No Regulation!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Manufacturers Playing Cards Close to the Chest?

Manufacturers Who Play the Cards Close to the Chest. What are They up to??

I have been attempting to contact manufacturers about their pricing policy, guarantee arrangements and the suitability of their product for wood pellet burners.

Some have responded and been very forthcoming and straight, while others have been remarkably shy and coy, to the apparent point of totally avoiding the issue.

Opop, Dor and Atmoz seem Shy

I have e-mailed several times to Opop, Dor and Atmoz, and so far, I have not received any direct or clear statements on the requested points:

1. Recommended selling price.
2. Guarantee arrangements.
3. Testing and Approval Standards for their products.
4. Stated suitability of their products for wood pellet burners.
5. Tested Efficiency rates of their products.

I also requested information regarding the manufacturers policies on prices, safety, selling agents, and guarantees.

Atmoz, Plain Stupid, Game Playing, or Being Coy?

After many attempts to contact Atmoz on half a dozen different e-mail addresses, I eventually got this "really helpful" (that me being sarcastic - in case you don't know) reply. Imagine what it would be like if you were trying to solve a real problem or get guarantee satisfaction?

Dear Mr. .....
For more information please visit our web sites on and choose English language.

Best regards,
Lukas Korel
Technická podpora Technical support
Jaroslav Cankař a syn ATMOS
Velenského 487
29421 Bělá pod Bezdězem, CZ
tel.: +420326706-516, fax:+420326706-526

Gerkross and Kunzel Seem very Open

Both Gerkros the Irish manufacturer, and Kunzel a German manufacturer, seem very open and willing to communicate on prices and other details. I see this as a big plus for these manufacturers.

Does Coyness Mean They are Hiding Something?

I will assume that a lack of contact and/or coyness about prices and other details is an indication that the manufacturer involved has something they would prefer not to disclose. In other words, that they are hiding something.

When will they EVER learn that we are in the Communication Age and that you can hide nothing for long!


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Criminal Insanity!!

Criminal Insanity??

Q. How many ESB executives would you need to screw in a light bulb?
A. None, they are all too busy screwing the customers.

I was reading over the weekend where the Chief Executive of the Public Irish Electricity Facility, the ESB, is expecting a pay raise of 17%. Gee that is a little less than he wants to raise the price of electricity for the customers.

This guy is getting a salary of nearly a half million Euro, €477,650 to be exact, a year for overseeing one of the most disastrous and insane companies in Ireland, if not in the world.

ESB Committing a Crime?

Quite apart from offering one of the poorest electricity supply standards in Europe, ESB is IMHO committing a crime. CORRECTION ESB is committing several crimes.

1. ESB imports 85% of its power in fossil fuels, adding to global pollution and taking away from the Irish economy thousands of jobs that could be made in the production and processing of Biomass fuels.

2. ESB is burning pages of the "Book of Kells" to generate electricity!!! Well this is not exactly correct; I said it to get your attention. However, ESB is doing something almost as INSANE. It is burning our, that's yours and mine and our children's, precious and irreplaceable bogs. A heritage once gone, can never ever again be replaced. 5% of ESB power comes from peat bogs. This is a crime in my opinion.

3. ESB is overpaying it's workers, and especially overpaying it's executives. It's average wage is more than double the average industrial wage. ESB then wants us the customer to fork out for this jobs-for-the-boys cozy cozy situation.

4. ESB charge Irish customers more than 40% more than UK customers are paying, and this for a less reliable service.

The list is much longer but I dont want to bore you.

It's the Good Old Rip off Republic Again!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ireland, the Wild West of Renewable Energy

Ireland - The Wild West of Renewable Energy
Complete with Cowboys, Gold Diggers, and Snakeoil Merchants

We Irish are a bit slow to catch up on certain things, while we are ahead of most of the world on a few others like the smoking ban. But Ireland is certainly frontier land when it come to Renewable Energy.

Our policy makers were not informed or motivated early enough, in fact most of them still are not clued-in or in the least motivated. They know how to make a few of the right political noises, but that is about all they do.

ACTIONS speak LOUDER THAN WORDS. Our national actions are very miserable and mean compared to other countries. Only 2% of our energy is Renewable source. That is a pitifully small figure by any standard. I am sure we will come to regret this in time.

Leglislation was rushed through and government agencies were set up a bit hastily and without too much forward planning, structured analysis, or market research. SEI Sustainable Energy Ireland is basically a great idea. But it has ill concieved and poorly structured elements to it, none more so than the Grant Schemes.

Licences to Dig Gold

Licences to dig gold - started a GOLD RUSH in the US and Alaska in the past. New shanty towns grew up where Snake-oil sellers, RipOff Merchants, and Gougers of all types florished.

The "Greener Homes Grant Scheme" has had a somewhat similar effect.

Instead of shanty towns, read Bio Energy Consultantcy Firms etc.
Instead of claim staking, read SEI Approved Installers.
Instead of Gold diggers Licence, read Post Grant Price Gouging.
Instead of Gold Miner, read Gougers or Cowboys
Instead of Gold, read Grants and Uninformed Customers.

These new Irish territories have no sherrif, or if there is one, nobody know who he is. There are no laws in these new territories (that I know of).

SEI don't care about price gouging and ripoff merchants, all they do is "promote renewable sources". The Office of Consumer Affairs done care either, their job seems to be done by telling us to "watch our backs"

Yep there sonny- Ireland is sure is the Wild West of Renewable Energy Policy. And as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: it is the punter who pays!

Inspired by one of my supporters James B... Thanks James for the inspiration!!

Sir, Can I Interest You in a Wood Pellet Heating System?

Renewable Energy in Ireland is a Circus with Lots of Clowns!

SEI, or at least the people who set up the structure of SEI, must be clowns because the Grant Scheme is a disaster, which encourages all sorts of cowboy activity, and lets Joe Public largely unprotected.

(I wonder what level of salary do the directors of SEI get?) PPS. Are there any jobs going in SEI??

The ESB seem to be clowns - see the last blog. We could have dozens of small generating stations using willow biomass dotted all over the country and three times as many wind farms if someone was even half awake a few years ago. There could be thousands of jobs in this energy production, instead of sending our billions overseas to buy oil and gas.

The outrageous and often laughable behaviour of some Sellers and Installers would suggest, in addition to being gougers and ripoff merchants, that many of them are also "Clowns"

Poor old Joe Public is perhaps the Biggest Clown of all because he is being fooled by state agencies and ripoff merchants alike and ends up paying every time.

Only 2% of Irelands energy need are from Renewable Resources. We import 85% of our energy needs. We could easily have 50% home produced and renewable if the "clowns" had got the finger out some years ago when the writing was clearly on the wall about an energy crisis.

"Can we interest sir in a nice Wood Pellet Heating System for only €12,000, and sir can get a grant for €4200 - suits you sir - suits you!!!"

ESB Announce Price Rises due to NOT having sufficient Renewable Energy Capacity

Not Enough Investment in Renewable Energy

The ESB has announced a rise in electricity prices of 10% to 20% next year. The company has blamed higher oil and gas prices for the increase. In other words they say that they have failed to invest enough in Renewable Sources such as BioMass and Wind Generation.

The Customer Pays the Price Again.

The rise comes on top of 3% for 2006, 4% for 2005 and almost 9% for 2004. The average ESB bill is €62 a month, the price rise of 10-20% will add €6.20 to €12.40 to the average per month or double that for the 2 monthly bill.

Just to note: The ESB reported pre-tax profits of €240m for last year, up 31% on 2004.

By the way, which of the above pictures do you prefer?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

SEI Grants, Boiler, Installer Guidelines Suggestions

SEI Has lots of guidelines about Pellet Heating Systems, suppliers and Installers. I thought I would add a few of my own for you to think about.

Suppliers, Agents, and Merchants

1. Look to long established plumbing and heating suppliers. Avoid the new start-ups unless you really know who you are dealing with. Every new technology attracts the quick-buck merchants who come into town with trumpets blowing - like the circus - and leave soon enough - like the circus.
2. Go on reputation for honesty, value, and service. Ask around - ask a lot!
3. Look for merchants who show their prices very clearly. When I was a kid, I remember my mother saying that she would never go into a shop where they didn't display the prices. Ask yourself -why would a shop NOT clearly display a price? One reason is that they have something to hide. They might also even be a bit embarrassed by how high they have set the price and they then fudge the issue with a load of huff about service and quality.

Installers and Plumbers.

1. Same as with merchants look to the people who have been there a while and have a good reputation. Ask a lot of people and you will get answers.
2. The really good guys technically are usually NOT the most expensive - they tend to be fair and honest in their pricing.
3. Get lots of quotes. I recommend you phone about a dozen, as you will have to do a good bit of weeding in this process.
4. SEI registration is the least of what you are interested in with installers. Sure they need to be registered for you to get the grant BUT registration means NOTHING MUCH ELSE.

Good News about Wood Pellets

Good News about Wood Pellets

No sooner had I the last Blog published, than I received an e-mail from Briain Smyth of Irish Pellets Co. Meath which lead to an interesting conversation about a new 100% Ecological Wood Pellet Production Facility.

Briain tells me that his new factory is expected to be in production in December. I was very happy to hear that it will be using 100% Irish sourced wood to produce top quality 6mm pellets with a guaranteed 8% moisture.

The initial capacity of the factory will be 30,000 tonnes per year but this will be increased in time. By my calculations that would be enough to supply about 6,000 to 8,000 average domestic users per year on initial production capacity. Now that is good news!

Prices have not yet been focussed but Briain assures me that they will be very competitive. Irish Pellets has a web site but there is not a great deal of information up on it just yet.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Just a Thought

The Supply and Price of Wood Pellets

Last year in the USA wood pellets went into short supply, and the price nearly doubled. Here is a link to one story:

The thought struck me that we are an island with only one big wood pellet producer and a couple of smaller ones. We import almost all of our wood. And additionally we have a history in government of ineptitude and lack of forward planning. The SEI Grant Scheme being one such example. (see several previous posts)

All of this does not give me reason for confidence about the idea of going over to wood pellet heating. What if the only big Irish factory breaks down. What if the wood supply to Ireland is cut off by transport problems? What if the price of pellets just sky rockets? Are there any SEI guarantees or grants for that lot?

We do not have an infrastructure sufficiently developed yet for the production of high quality home produced biomass wood pellets. Until such time as we do, is it wise to invest lots of money and lots of effort into an unproved situation. Can any government agency reassure us on this one??

Ask SEI and your public representatives these questions.

SEI Grant, Greener Homes, not, Greener People

SEI Grant, Greener Homes,
not Greener People

Savvy Customers = less RipOffs
No More RipOff Republic
"Information is the Enemy of Corruption"

Please pass on this Blog to a friend.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Gerkros Wood Pellet Boiler

A Look at the Gerkros "Woodpecker"

Ireland has only one Wood Pellet Boiler manufacturer at this time. It is Gerkros, well known for their oil boilers. The boiler comes with burner unit, small hopper, auger, and draught stabilizer. It also comes with a Gerkros commissioning visit.

It's a BIG Boiler

A quick look at the 20Kw model shows that it is much larger than the Dor or Opop boilers of the same output. This size may prove a problem for some installations where space is limited. Roughly 45" High by 45" x 31" its BIG and then there is a big Hopper going with it. It is not as easy to access for cleaning as the Opop or Dor boilers either. The boiler comes with 5 years guarantee. But the Burner has only ONE YEARS GUARANTEE!

The Burner Unit.

The Burner unit looks like it might be a modified Pellx burner, I am not saying it is one, just it looks like it could be. It is a top feed burner unit and tt has only 2 step modulation. That means it is either OFF, 60% running power, or 100% power. It does not have in between steps of heat output. This would mean it would stop and start a lot, which means it would put more wear on the burner, especially the ingiter unit. This might lead to the need for more maintenance in time.


The price for the 20Kw and 30Kw boilers are evidently the same, because they ARE the same size etc. The price difference is in the Burner Unit. The 20Kw combination is quoted at €5040 and the 30Kw at €5240.

You will have to have a plumber, ANY plumber (does not have to be registered with SEI AFAIK) to install this unit, then Gerkros will send out someone to commission it and sign the SEI grant forms.

Question: Is it value for money?

Answer: This is a complex answer. On the face of it it is expensive enough by German, Danish and UK prices for similar units. You could buy the bits for well under €4000 just about anywhere. The Woodpecker is nothing special. You get a BIG steel boiler with an ordinary 5 year guarantee. (some boilers come with up to 15 years guarantee) You get a bog basic burner unit with a rather mean 1 year guarantee!! (I wonder if they expect the burner to give trouble and hence the 1 year guarantee?)

You do get an Irish company with a fair reputation, you get a commissioning call which could be worth a couple of hundred Euro, and you get a draught stabilizer worth €60.

Does that justify the price? I really don't know, but I am inclined to think not. I think it is overpriced. Would I buy one? Not at the price, plus it is very awkward and big.

I think Gerkros need a bit more work on this one. At least 10 step modulation, a tidier boiler with earsier access, and a lower price.

SEI Grants, Good Fishing for Gougers!

SEI Grants for Greener Homes are only Encouraging Overcharging and RipOffs

Be warned if you are intending to install ANY renewable source heating project which attracts an SEI Grant check the price, the installation costs and the dealers and installer credentials. Then check again elsewhere and get at least three or four different quotes. Why, you may ask, should you be on guard?

Well, firstly this is the RipOff Republic full of ripoff merchants and price gougers made famous by Eddie Hobbs, and secondly, we have a history of Gombeen Men in Ireland since the Famine times. (see previous blog)

Many, many dealers, agents and installers have their prices hiked sky high. They rely on the fact that they are SEI Approved sellers and installers.

What Does SEI Agent or Installer Approval Mean?

What does that mean I hear you ask? Well it essentially means nothing much to you the customer, except higher prices from many of these "approved" agents.

An installer registered with SEI means ONLY:

* He/She is willing to participate in the scheme
* Has a valid tax clearance certificate
* Has agreed that in the event of a dispute that they will resolve it by means of arbitration.
* Has agreed to have installations inspected by SEI

(taken from SEI information)

The last of the above four statements is the only one that means anything at all to the customer. The only good to the customer is if SEI actually guarantee to inspect the installation. I wonder how many installations are fully inspected by SEI. Why not ring them up and ask what is the level of inspection and what are the inspection criteria.

Do you know a good and trusted plumber? Then ask him or her to get registered with SEI. With a bit of competition the prices will come down.

Get Savvy on SEI Grants.
Greener Homes.
NOT Greener Customers!

Some Interesting Biomass and renewable Links

SEI Grants, Wood Pellet Heating, Boilers, Burners, Installers, and Ripoffs, all meaning nothing without FUEL!

Here are some interesting links on Biomass Production, harvesting etc. Hope you enjoy them.
Biomass willow Link
Irish Bio energy Association link.
PowerPoint Presentation on Biomass NY

Please Keep the Information Flowing.
Copy a link of this blog to a friend.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Gombeen Men, and Wood Pellet,, Ripoffs

Gombeen Men

The mention of "Gombeen Men" will give most people a vague mental picture of individuals with unsavoury characters, but do we really know what are "Gombeen Men".

To illustrate what gombeen men are, I can do no better than quote from an account of the 1845 - 1846 Famine.

"Times were so hard we had to eat the seed potatoes we were saving to plant in the spring. My Da had to buy seed potatoes to sow for the 1846 crop. We planted them, as we always did, on St. Patrick’s Day. As the summer came to Ballincollig, we all hoped for a good harvest. The fields were green again, and every one in Ireland was hopeful.

Then the unexpected happened. The blight returned and field after field turned black. People cried, “Heaven protect us!” A second hungry summer meant famine. There was an extreme scarcity of food. Oatmeal and other food became more and more expensive. Some shop keepers took advantage of the food shortage to raise their prices. Others gave us credit at a very high price. We called them gombeen men. The people hated them."

Thank God, Ireland is now one of the world's most prosperous countries, and the Famine is but a race memory - still alive in the sub-conscious of many. However the "Gombeen Men" are very much 'alive and well' in Ireland and have given the country a very bad name by overcharging for goods and services.

The TV series "Rip Off Ireland" did a good job of outlining many of the bigger rip-offs. There are plenty of gombeen men out there only to ready to take advantage of every possible situation. Since the famine people have hated them, they sour and degrade everything they touch.

The move of Ireland towards a greener, more self-sufficient, and more ecological future, is being interfered with by the present day "Gombeen Men". They need to be stopped.

Wood Pellet - Down by the Sally Gardens

Sally Trees and the Making of Wood Pellets

The Sally, Sallie or Willow tree (salix viminalis) makes a good Biomass crop grown especially to turn into fuel such as wood pellets. Sallies as a crop are not new to Ireland, historically they were grown in almost every parish in Ireland to provide baskets.

Ireland imports most of its fuel, including oil, coal, and timber products. We need to start growing our own NOW before it is too late, and we become dependent and at the mercy of world trends.

Sally biomass is harvested every three years, usually by contractors, and delivered straight to the nearest biomass fuel facility.

By growning our own biomass crops we will create thousands of jobs, improve the countryside and wild life, help the environment, and save the ecomomy billions over time.

The old turf powered electricity power stations in the Irish midlands could easily be re-tooled to burn sally biomass as a fuel. New power stations could of course be built also for this extremly clean burning fuel.

Why Sallies?

* Sallies are a good crop for farmers, once established take little tending.
* Willows are easily propagated from unrooted cuttings.
* High yields can be harvested in a few years.
* Willows vigorously resprout after each harvest.
* Sallies can be harvested six to seven times before replanting
* The amount of heat in a dry ton of willow is similar to other hardwoods.
* Willow cultivation uses fewer pesticides.
* Willow plantations will encourage wildlife and birds.
* Sallies enhance the landscape and can be visually stunning if wisely managed.
* Willow biomass products reduce the need for fossil fuels.

Irish, Wood Pellet, Investment Opportunity

Investment Opportunity for Ireland.

Ireland has a really great and significant opportunity for investment in its future sitting right on the doorstep NOW. If we do not seize this opportunity it will be diluted and dispersed over time.

What do we need to take advantage of the amazing opportunity ?

1. Some investment both governmental and private. (Not huge money and no high-risk investment)

2. Co-operation and Reciprocity from all sides. (This will be difficult in Ireland with a history of vested interests, gombeen men, over zealous unions, crooked politicians, and greedy capitalists)

3. Ethical and honest approaches from business and investors. (This is the most difficult to achieve)

4. Get the finger out and do something NOW - not next year or when ever. (as Paddy the Irishman said to Paddy the Spaniard about the Spanish word "Manana": there is no word in the Irish vocabulary that suggests such urgency)

What is this investment?

It is investing in alternative power sources. Including: Bio-Mass farming, Bio-diesel oil production, wood pellet fuels, Bio-mass powered ESB PowerStation, changing over our central heating systems to bio-mass fuels.

What is the gain from this investment?

1. We will save billions on oil, gas and coal imports.
2. We will create several new self-sustaining industries.
3. We will create thousands of jobs in these industries.
4. We will become partially independent of rising and ever less dependable imports of oil gas etc.
5. We eventually get cheaper electricity, bio-fuels, and heating.
6. We will greatly help the environment, our wildlife, and the ecology.
7. We will cut down greatly on pollution and help keep our water, soil and air clean.
8. We will gain in pride and stature as a nation.

What stands in the way of this opportunity?

Essentially greed. Individual and big company greed - the green eyed monster. The short-term gain and fast buck merchants will hamper this effort more than any logistic or lack of funds. Greed and one-up-man-ship have always worked diametrically opposed to Co-Operation and Reciprocity. Can we act in the general interest , can we be ethical and honest, can we act with co-operation and reciprocity, can we leave the spectre of the "gombeen men" behind us?

We have done this in helping the third world with our world-leading generosity and selflessness - can we do it to help our own future? It is primarily up to us all each individual and also to our political leaders to engender a national spirit into Ireland once again.

Wood Pellet Ireland Update

Wood Pellet Boiler Information a Synopsis and Update.

1. A boiler is a "kettle" full of water which is heated by flames. Oil boilers, Gas boilers or wood fired boilers are much the same basic idea.

2. A pellet boiler has a flame making unit ot burner fitted into it that is especially designed to burn wood pellets.

3. A "pellet burner unit" is what makes a pellet boiler a pellet boiler. Otherwise it is a wood-burning boiler.

4. Some pellet boilers on the Irish market, such as the Dor, are essentially log boilers with a pellet burner strapped on to it. These work just fine.

5. Other pellet boilers are integrated complete units, all designed to work together.

6. There are some very high-tech (and high priced) pellet boilers which are self-cleaning etc.

7. Pellet boilers work just the same as oil boilers - they turn on and off, or in some cases up and down, as the heat is needed. The more sophisticated ones 'modulate' the heat to the requirement with between 5 and 100 steps of modulation..

8. Also the better units are equipped with a "Lanbda" sensor unit. This is an electronic box that senses the flue gases and adjusts the burn process automatically. Some cars also have Lambda sensors.

9. SEI Sustainable Energy Ireland, the government agency set up to encourage alternative energy give a grant for pellet heaters.

10. SEI has an "approved" list of boiler - burner units.

11. Manufacturers or agents simply need to apply to SEI for approval of their units.

12. SEI approve the Unit NOT the agent or seller.

13. SEI has a list of approved Installers.

14. These installers are not actually trained or tested for competence - they are simply registered - no more. An un-registered installer might indeed be far better, and cheaper than a registered one - BUT you wont get the grant unless you are signed off by a registered installer.

15. Many registered installers take advantage of the grant scheme by charging OUTRAGEOUS prices for installing a boiler. Normal rates for a normal installation should not be more than €200 - €300.

16. Prices being charges in Ireland for many pellet boilers are between 30% and 100% dearer than on the mainland Continent. Buyer beware.

17. None of the government agencies seem to be interested in the Rip-Off going on. It is up to the buyer to try and figure their way through a maze of facts and figures and avoid the crooks and gombeen men in the process.

18. There are moves afoot to form private buying co-ops to import these boilers.

19. There are a number of companies, that I have been speaking to, interested in selling pellet boilers and taking a fair and reasonable profit. If this happen, it will be the best solution to short circuit the gougers.

Please pass-on a link to this blog.

Wood Pellet - the New Oil

Wood Pellet - The New Oil

With the price of oil controlled by nut-case nations, and the world supply quickly dwindling, wood pellet fuel is fast becoming the New Oil, at least for heating and power generation.

Ireland has got it the Wrong Way Around

Ireland with the SEI grants for alternative fuel systems seems on the face of it to be doing a good job. However, it essentially has got the "cart before the ass". With more and more people switching over to wood pellets, and industrial power generation also close to moving over, the demand for bio-mass and wood pellets is quickly getting to the point where demand will outstrip supply.

What should have happened is that several years ago the government, reading the signs clearly on the walls, should have introduced a massive incentive to encourage farmers to move over to biomass production. At the same time there should have been investment and education in industry in wood pellet and briquette production. Instead we now have incentives that support the use of mainly imported fuels - Wood Pellets made from imported timber.

While some education and investment in biomass production has been happening, it is on far too small a scale as yet to make any great difference. We are now and will be still be for some time to come dependent on imported fuel, the difference being just more wood and less oil.

Still Time if we move Now

If we get the finger out now and move straight away, we can avert a really big future problem. But somehow my heart is seized with manifold pessimism when I consider the slowness of understanding and the vested interests that stand in the way.

You can help make the difference!

Lobby your politicians and tell your friends and associates. If the word spreads, something could yet be made to happen.

Spread the word: Send some friends a link to this blog please.

Wood Pellet, says Thanks!

Thanks so much for all the e-mails and posts of support

I just wanted to share a few of the supportive messages - and just the one bad mouthing from a poor guy who's mammy didn't love him:
"I was just looking at your blog there. Most informative, well done. I would suggest you contact the Irish Farmers Journal about it. Their stories are often picked up the mainstream press in Ireland and even in the UK."
"Alternative energy, has been of real interest to me for many years. Yet I despair at how our government appointed agencies have failed us, once again... Why is this, corruption and brown envelopes, is the only logical conclusion."

"Great thread, well done. Could this be linked to the green issues forum as well? I'm sure many there would be very interested in the info you have here."

And now from the Guy who's Mammy didn't love him, Or Maybe was it that I touched a Raw Nerve - that made him so sour!!

All you have done so far as I can see is prove the old adage :
"A little knowledge can be very Dangerous" . . . the gutless wonder has taken a photograph of a boiler in what appears to a Showroom that he (although I will remain within the bounds of equality and accept it could be She) admits is close to him. That means he has abused the access and quite possibly the knowledge of the staff of an expensive to run place of business, as all Irish business premises are.

The same person goes on to to give inaccurate information on products that can be purchased in the Czech Republic, a boiler system that is not what he claims it to be.

He then goes on and gives what could be dangerous information regarding the flue system because it is not accurate for the purpose of the thread being the installation of Pellet Boilers.

I see no reference to the fact that the poster was not going to apply for a grant under the SEI scheme because he had now sourced what he believes to be equal products at a substantial discount.

I also see no reference to the fact that he and his by now co-conspirators are going to return the balance based on what they save to the SEI. On the contrary he goes on to give partial advice about the requirements of SEI to be included on their installer list, he is even proposing organising a fraudulent installation team because he is using his own experience to act as the main contractor / overseer.

Another nice one

"Don't mind that ----- he just can't stand anyone having one up on him, he just likes taking through the roof of his arse! Nothing you have suggested is illegal in any way. It's the rip-off merchants who are the ones that need the law set on them for profiteering! Keep sockin' it to them. "

"Information is the Enemy of Corruption"

Scotte, Dor, Boink, Opop, BioComfort

Scotte - Dor -Opop - Boink - BioComfort - Boink Comfort

Pictured above is an Opop Boiler unit fitted with a Boink Pellet Burner Unit it has 100 step modulation. This is a common combination unit sold in Ireland. It is SEI grant approved. The 16Kw unit sells in Denmark. The price includes Boiler, Burner and Auger unit. It does not include a hopper unit.

Boilers and Burners

Boilers are the BIG thing, like a fridge, the Burner is a smallish unit bolted to the side or to the front of the Boiler. In Ireland there are various combinations of boiler and burner being sold as units.

The Opop Boiler (generally grey in colour) is very popular, as it the Dor Boiler unit (generally red in colour)

The Scotte and the Boink Burner units are very commonly fitted to either of the above boilers.

The Dor boiler is dearer than the Opop, as it can burn logs, and the Scotte burner is a bit more expensive than the Boink, though both offer 100 step modulation.


The Danish Retail price for the combination 16Kw unit is 20,400Dk plus tax. In our money thats €2734 plus 21% VAT. Now you will need to add a hopper unit to that price but hoppers can easily be built or locally made. The boilers are made in the Czech Republic and have to be shipped to Denmark. Shipping to Ireland would cost a bit extra so add say €200 extra to cover the longer shipping haul.

For fear I be accused of distorting the facts here is the site link:

Now lets add it all up - shall we? Combination Boink Boiler unit €2734, a locally made hopper unit say €200 and another €200 for the extra shipping. That gives us €3134 plus 21% VAT which is a total of €3793 inclusive of Irish VAT, transport and a locally made hopper unit.

There is no excuse for the price being much higher than this, other than there are cowboys, gombeen men, and gougers at work. If you are paying more you are being screwed!

A note on Hopper Units

A hopper is essentially a tin box with a tapered bottom end, like a funnel, into which the auger fits through an oval opening. Many of the supplied hopper units are way too awkward and big to fit into many boiler houses, and people end up modifying them anyway. The are also very over-priced.

A hopper would be a doddle for a DIY man with some angle iron and galvanised sheeting. The Hoppers generally supplied with the Opop/Boink or Opop/Scotte and the Dor/Scotte are square and tapered from the top, very wasteful of space and basically poor design. They are also not covered at the top. For safety it would seem to me to be a good idea to cover flammable fuel. A simple metal lid on the box would be a useful safety feature and not add much to the cost. It would also keep dirt, mice and other stuff out of the pellets.

Some more prices

Danish retail price of the Opop Boink 24Kw unit is 21,400Dk or €2868 plus VAT.

The 30Kw unit for big houses is priced at 24,400Dk or €3272 plus VAT.

The Boink Comfort 16Kw high efficiency unit is 24,400Dk or €3272 plus VAT.

The Boink Comfort 24Kw is 25,400Dk or €3406 plus VAT. Do the same bit of math as for the unit detailed above adding in extra transport, a hopper, and VAT and if you are being charged muich more than this, you are being screwed!

Scotte Burners and Dor Boilers

Sometimes the Opop Boilers are fitted with a Scotte Burner or a BioComfort Burner. The Scotte burner units are a little bit more expensive - but not a lot. Sometimes a Dor boiler is sold with a Scotte Burner. The Dor Boiler is a little bit more expensive than the Opop boiler.

Excellent German Price for Scotte Dor

A German retail company are selling on Ebay a Scotte Dor combination with Auger AND a Lambda control unit a very good deal for €2815 plus VAT thats €3406 inclusive of 21% Irish VAT. Now you do need to add in extra transport and the cost of a hopper unit but that is a very good price. Considering the better boiler unit the Dor and the better burner unit the Scotte and a Lambda unit are all included. The site link is:
Tell him I sent you ;-)

Keep the faith!

SEI, Helps RipOff Republic manitain its title

SEI Helps RipOff Republic Maintain its Title

Ireland has earned the title of "The Rip-off Republic". This title is again being freshly claimed in the area of alternative energy.

SEI (Sustainable Energy Ireland) (unwittingly) gave a licence to overcharge for alternative heating products in Ireland. It did this in two ways.

1. Its literature suggests VERY high prices for typical installations. For instance it suggests that a lower end Wood Pellet Boiler might cost €9000 including VAT and a high end one cost €16,000 including VAT.

Now anyone can check prices for pellet boilers on the internet and see that a respectable make of boiler for an average house can be easily purchased for well under €4000 including VAT. Installation costs should be no more that €200 to €400 depending of the complexity of installation. But by suggesting such a foolishly inflated prices, SEI has opened the floodgates for overcharging.

2. By operating a system of "Approved Installers" SEI has again, unwittingly given a licence to print money to the less ethical installer out there, and there are plenty of them. As I explained in another post, the SEI "Approved Installer" actually means very little as it stands. Just about anyone could potentially become an approved installer. I was quoted €1000 for a simple installation that would take less than half a day. (I know it sounds like I am exaggerating - I have the e-mail to prove it)

Savvy Customers

What is needed to balance out the situation is (1) more information, (2) more competition and (3) more savvy customers. This is the reason I opened and maintain this blog - to pass on information and encourage competition by having more savvy buyers in the marketplace.

"Information is the Enemy of Corruption"

Dor, Opop, Baxi, Boink, Eco, Gerkross, Scotte, Viadrus

Viadrus - Opop - Dor - Atmos - Baxi - Roca - Scotte - Boink - Eco - Gerkross

I have explained the difference between a boiler and a burner unit in previous posts. The boiler
being essentially a kettle in which water is heated and then pumped to your radiators etc. The
burners is a fire-making device that uses gas, oil, or wood pellets, as the case may be, to generate a flame and thus heat the water in the boiler.

Integrated pellet Heating Units

I have also explained that there are "Integrated" boiler/burner/hopper units available, in other
words, specially purpose designed wood pellet central heating units with all the bits in one box
as it were. These tend to be much more expensive that the separates. The Kunzel is one
example of an integrated unit. The Gerkorss really is not, as it is essentially several unique bits
bolted together. You could bolt a Boink Burner to a Gerkross and get it to work - how well I
wouldn't know - but it would work!!

Boiler Burner Separates

In the separates, the boiler is usually an existing logwood burning boilers with a few
modifications so the "burner" can be bolted to the side or to the front. There are a number of
different makes around, Opop and Dor, Viadrus, Atmos. Baxi/Roca being five fairly popular

The Marriage of Boiler and Burner

Any one of the many boiler units can be married with most any one of a number of pellet burner units, with a few considerations for size, output, flame size, efficiency and the like. There are lots
of burner units on the market. They can be divided into a number of categories. You could
therefore have for instance a Viadrus boiler with a Scotte burner, or a Opop Boiler with a Boink
Burner, or even a Gerkross Boiler with a Scotte Burner etc. etc. Many variations are possible.
Some marriages will work a bit better than others naturally.

Feed Type.

1. Top fed. Where the pellets are dropped in from the top onto the burning grate.
2. Lateral Fed. Where the pellets are pushed in from the side.
3. Bottom fed, Where the pellets are pushed up from under the flame.


1. No modulation. There is only one rate of heat and when the boiler has enough it shuts down,
and re-starts again when the heat is needed - like an oil burner which stops and starts all the
time. Problem with a wood pellet burner is that each re-start takes maybe 20 minutes to
complete; it also puts a strain on the mechanism, especially the igniter element.

2. Two or Three Step Modulation. This is where the burner can cut the heat down to 50% when
no so much heat is needed, or turn off as necessary. The Gerkross Boiler/Burner uses this

3. 10 - 50 or 100 Step Modulation. On these burners the flame is controlled to the needs in
several small increments of need - like in a gas boiler.

Wood Pellet, Boilers, Burners, Installers, SEI Grants, Feedback

Call for Feedback on, SEI Grants, Boilers, Stoves, Installers, Plumbers, Flues, Prices, RipOffs, Boink, Scotte, Dor, Opop, Atmos, Baxi, Viadrus, what has been your experience

I have been asked by some readers of this Blog to ask you guys out there for your experiences.
I would be most obliged if some of you took the time and trouble to share with us answers to
some of the following questions:

What type of wood pellet system have you installed?
How does it work well?
What did you pay for it?
Are you happy with the price you paid?
Are you generally happy with unit?
Were you happy with the agents?
Were you happy with the installers?
Have you received the SEI Grant payment yet?

Please click on "View my complete profile" and you will find an email address, or you can use the "post comment" route.

"Information is the Enemy of Corruption"

Opop, Boink, Wood Pellet, Boilers, Burners, Irish Ripoff?

Wood Pellet, Boiler, Burner, Boink, Opop, Price Comparisons Ireland and Denmark, SEI Grant Gouging, Or Not?

A look at Boink Opop units and comparing the Irish Price with the Danish price. This is the marriage of the groom "Boink" Burner unit with the beaming bride "Opop" Boiler. It has 100 step modulation and 89% efficiency. It is a marriage that seems to work well enough. It has been tested by an independent Danish testing outfit and rates well.

In Ireland one Opop dealer who publishes his price is Kerry Bio Fuels who list the Opop - Boink 16Kw Boiler set consisting boiler, burner, auger and hopper at €4490 incl. VAT.

Danish company list the exact same set at 20,400 DK or €2735 plus VAT which is €3309 including VAT.


Irish price of €4490 less Danish price of €3309 equals price hike of €1181 thats a hike of 35.5%. Now shipping costs might account for 10% but the Irish price is still bloated by a minimum of 25%. Not as bad as the Viadrus hercules Eco disaster - but still an unjustified and unacceptable situation. So whats new in the RipOff Rebublic?


When will the Irish People, I speak for myself here, wake up and refuse to be bled on prices. Are we a bunch of sheep or what? With our history we should be razor sharp against gombeen men and price gougers, yet we seem to tolerate the situation more than most other countries. Why is that does anyone know?

Please send a link to this blog to your friends

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Ireland, Wood Pellet, Boilers, Burners, Burning Out?

Ireland, Wood Pellet, Boilers, Burners, Burning Out?

I have been getting some reports of frequent Burn-Outs in Wood pellet Boiler Units. At this stage of enquiring, I am not sure exactly what is burning out, possibly the grates, maybe the igniter units. I will be talking to some people soon on this matter and will let you know what I find out.

It is early days in the development of these units and none of us want to be the guinea pigs. Keep tuned for further news.

Meantine anyone out there with reasonable experience of the use of a wood pellet boiler, please let us hear your experiences.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Wood Pellet Grants Dealers Installers - Plank - Thick As or Slap Of?

Wood Pellet Grants - SEI - Installers, Agents, Are They as Thick as Two Planks - Or Do They Need a Slap of a Plank?

Today the mind is befuddled and jaded by the sheer scale and outrageousness of some the mistakes and the ripoffs in the Irish Wood Pellet Market, and indeed in the whole Alternative Energy Field.

So I leave you with the above picture to contemplate, (as an alternative to navel gazing or bog snorkeling).

Be good now!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

More on SEI Grants & Irish RipOff Pellet Heating

Viadrus Hercules Eco Boiler - Price Fixing? - Just Plain Stupidity in Business? Rip-Off? - or Not?

I have, in an earlier blog, discussed the outrageous price being asked by EnergyMaster Listowel for the Viadrus Hercules Eco.

I just wanted to say here clearly that this price has been ratified by the manufacturer. In other words they are essentially saying yes we know that EnergyMaster are charging nearly double the price BUT it is OK by us.

They also seem to be saying that you can only get the SEI Grant if you buy directly from their agent Energy Master. I wonder what SEI would say to that?

Copy of part of an email from Viadrus

... Regarding your question, I would like to inform you that it is not possible to buy our product directly from us, because as I wrote you earlier company Energy Master is our representative in Ireland.

Regarding the price, I would like to inform you that we know very well the price-strategy of company Energy Master and we are satisfied with their way of business. I would like to also inform you that you can get grant 4.200 EUR for our boiler if you buy it directly from Energy Master and I am sure that this is a very good opportunity how to get the boiler with a very good

I hope that you are still interested in our products and that you will buy the boiler from company Energy Master, because I am really sure that they are the best for our product.

If you have any questions, please don´t hesitate to contact me.

Best regards.

I of course indicated that if the Viadrus Hercules Eco was the last boiler in Ireland - I would not buy it at that outrageous price, as I have an allergy to being RippedOff. I would advise anyone interested in this boiler to get it in the UK at nearly half the Irish agent's price. Even if it breaks down you are still ahead by nearly the full price of a replacement boiler - eitherways the UK dealer would have to honour the warranty anyway. (see earlier post for details)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Is SEI Grant Causing RipOffs

Is SEI Grant, for Wood Pellet Central Heating Systems Causing RipOffs?

With plumbers bold enough to charge €1000 for a half day to install a wood pellet central heating boiler, simply because they are on the SEI approved list. With newly set up companies feeling justified in loading their price for a common boiler by 69% over the UK retail price. With many other business' loading prices by between 30 and 100% over mainland continental prices - I would say YES the SEI Grant as it stands is causing a big problem.


The only thing that seems to be keeping businesses honest is HONESTY and integrity. Unfortunately there is not too much of that evident out there. Or else I need some new glasses!

But I have found that, thank God, there are some honest brokers out there and I commend them.

Suggestions to the Wood Pellet Heating Market

I suggest to all people in this business. 1. Publish your prices OPENLY and HONESTLY. 2.
Show a SUPPLY ONLY price. 3. Show an installation charge seperately. And 4. Show a commissioning charge seperately. State all of the costs and charges OPENLY.

Remember we live in an information age and eventually EVERYTHING you do will be seen clearly for what it is.

If you have nothing to hide - THEN YOU HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE.

Viadrus Hercules Eco

Viadrus Hercules Eco, Irish RipOff or Not?

Energy Master Listowel offer the Viadrus Hercules Eco 24Kw Pellet Boiler combo at €6500 including 21% VAT the price includes commissioning and signing off the SEI Grant form. I could not find their price posted on their internet site, but I requested information and I received a printed leaflet with the price clearly stated.

Manco Energy Ltd. East Yorkshire UK offer the same Boiler combo at £2,200 plus VAT. Thats €3188 at todays rates. Add the 21% Irish VAT and that gives you €3858 rounded up to the nearest Euro. The link is:

Some Sums?

Irish price of €6500 minus the English price of €3858 gives an your the extra added on of €2642. That a HUGE 69% loading.

I think €2642 is an excessive amount for an hour or two's work in commissioning and signing off a form, an extended guarantee would also not justify that sort of price. What do you think that sort of price loading should be called? Excessive? Gouging? Outrageous?