Springbok Sustainable Wood Heat Co-operative operates a wood chip fuelled district heating system on the Springbok Estate near Alfold, Surrey.



The Springbok Estate does not have access to the gas grid and prior to the installation of the biomass system the heating was supplied by about 20 oil boilers, some of which were quite old and which were in need of replacement as they were becoming expensive to maintain. In particular the main resident of the Estate, Care Ashore, a charity, needed to replace its ageing boilers.   Care Ashore runs a charitable home for retired and some serving seafarers so the heat load is high.  Affordable and reliable heat and hot water is not only vital but is a legal requirement. The Charity had already  explored installing a woodchip biomass system but had reluctantly concluded it could not afford it as it required a high capital outlay, was relatively expensive and the charity could not afford to pay for this itself from its reserves.  The social enterprise model therefore provided a good solution. In 2014/2015 the Springbok Co-operative raised a total of £425,000 through two community share offers and between November 2014 and June 2015 it installed a district heating system to supply heat and hot water to  various residential buildings on the estate which it now operates.  

Sachel Court and Radcliffe House

Sachel Court and Radcliffe House

To achieve this a new boiler house and underground fuel silo were built and three heat mains with a combined length of just over half a kilometre were buried underground.

Boiler house and fuel silo

The system is now fully operational and is successfully supplying both heat and hot water to the estate buildings. More details of the district heating system are available elsewhere on this website.

The heat customers including Care Ashore pay the co-op for heat and the Renewable Heat Incentive is also being claimed at the rate applicable for 1 April 2015 to 30 June 2015 as during this period the boilers were commissioned. 

Springbok Estate is a good location for such a project because as well as being off gas grid it is located in one of the most heavily wooded areas of England and the system is run on locally produced wood chip.  The Co-op is currently supplied with local wood chip by South East Wood Fuels.

Work is currently being undertaken in the hope that the Co-op can move onto a system where it can “self-supply” the wood chip it needs without always relying on a  commercial wood chip supplier. If some level of self supply can be achieved it will also help to create an increased demand for wood biomass from the immediate local area.  Woodland belonging to members of the Co-op next to the installation are in the process of being brought back into active management.  Creating a local market for wood chip and bringing unmanaged local woodland back into sustainable management also creates opportunities for local employment as well as contributing to improving the ecology and  biodiversity of the woods.  An exciting opportunity  to help both the endangered Wood White butterfly and also to improve the local habitat for nightingales through responsible woodland management has been identified in Springbok’s own woodlands and on adjoining woodlands.

More details of how the project has developed since planning was granted in July 2014 are available on the Blog which is written by one of the Co-op Directors.

Register your Interest

Register your Interest

Register your interest in other Energy4All projects

Find out more


Current Share Offers

Read our online Blog

View Blog

News & Blog


Energy4All Co-ops

Below are links to some of the other Co-ops in the E4A family.

Benefits of renewable energy Why Renewables?

Renewable energy will never run out, has low environmental impact and is available to everyone regardless of their location.

Find out more