Biomass Heating and Boilers

Burning woodWhy is it green to burn wood?

Wood is a reliable and established fuel and a modern wood fuel installation is highly efficient (at around 90%), convenient and low maintenance.

All fossil fuels took millions of years to form underground and it is now accepted that "peak oil" will soon be reached (the point where supply will rapidly decline and hence cost will escalate). Wood is considered renewable energy by virtue of the fact it can be re-grown in a matter of years.

Carbon released during the burning of fossil fuels has been locked in the earth for millions of years and cannot be recaptured, but wood burning in itself is considered carbon neutral. Carbon released when wood is burnt, will be recaptured by the new trees needed to replenish supply.

Processing and transportation required in the wood fuel supply chain uses a small amount of energy (typically no more than 2%) meaning at the point at which it is finally consumed it remains well above an 80% saving on green house gas over fossil fuel, often even over 90%.
If everyone converts to wood burning won't we run out of trees to burn?

With careful management of potential sources, there is sufficient fuel to support growth. Many UK forests are currently under-managed and could provide an increased supply of wood fuel. Left unmanaged, trees mature and growth slows; as does the rate at which they absorb carbon.  Fallen trees and debris will hinder new growth, so it is far better to manage the forests by growing, chopping down and putting to use,  then re-growing to maximise CO2 absorption. Opening space in new woodland allows sunlight in, enabling a wider range of plants, insects and animals to thrive and increasing biodiversity.

The Forestry Commission estimates* that an additional 2 million tons of wood could be harvested from currently under-managed UK woodlands by 2020, representing half of the available, currently unharvested, material in English woodlands which is at 4 million tons. Increased demand for wood fuel will offer a stimulus to landowners and the forestry industry to better manage UK woodland.

In utilising the natural resource we will create much needed rural community jobs in forestry management and fuel handling. Farmland is being converted to less-intensive energy crop production, further improving the environment.

Standards for sustainable forestry have been revised and cover the whole life cycle including cultivation, emissions from processing and transportation, environmental impact, workers and local residents rights, and a system of monitoring best practice. In general, this new industry associated with wood fuel is set to grow to cope with new biomass boiler fuel demand.

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