UK hotel turns to green fuel

Swinton Park, a luxury castle hotel in the UK’s Yorkshire Dales, is due to go greener with a wood chip boiler. This is the first installation of its kind for a hotel in the North of England, and is still a relatively new concept in the UK.

The boilers have been imported from Austria, where such technology is far more common - there are as many as 10,000 wood-fired boilers in Austria whilst there are only about 200 in the UK.

The installation of the boilers has been carried out by the specialist firm Wood Energy Ltd ( They are also due to complete a similar installation at the Eden Project in Cornwall within the next few months.

The installation of the wood chip boiler is part of the hotel’s drive to use alternative sources of energy which are renewable and sustainable. The new boiler will heat the whole hotel and supply hot water for all 30 bedrooms, treatment rooms, cookery school and kitchens.

The use of wood chip as a fuel source results in a CO2 neutral process, as the emissions equate to the CO2 absorbed by the timber when it is growing. Up to 300kw of heat can be generated by the boiler, and there will be a saving of approximately 275 tonnes per year of CO2 emissions, based on current oil consumption levels.


The forestry surrounding the hotel on the family’s estate is the source of the timber. In recent years the estate have not been able to find a market for the off-cuts and saplings cut out when the forestry is thinned, but what was once a waste product will now all be supplied to the hotel, and stored for up to a year in advance to dry before being chipped.

Oil costs at the hotel during 2005 were in the region of £42,000, whilst the anticipated running costs of the wood chip boilers are only £15,000 per year. The installation costs will be up to £180,000, but with a 50% grant from Yorkshire Forward and The Bio Energy Capital Grant and a 50% interest free loan from The Carbon Trust, the hotel expects to cover the installation costs within 4 years.