Why wood heating?

South East Wood Fuels Ltd

A leading supplier of high quality wood fuels

Wood is a sustainable fuel | Advanced heating technology | Managing woodlands | Is there enough?

Modern wood heating (using wood chip or wood pellet) is a tried and tested heating technology which provides substantial savings against most fossil fuels and additionally attracts significant government income as an incentive to encourage more organisations and institutions to invest in it. It has been in continuous use in many countries including Austria and Germany for over 40 years and is increasingly popular now in the UK.

The key benefits are:

  • Significant savings against oil or liquid petroleum gas.
  • Income from the government’s renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme which pays you for generating heat from wood.
  • It’s Green! Using wood as a fuel reduces carbon emission and reliance on fossil fuels, improves the biodiversity of our local woodlands and generates local jobs for local people.

Advanced heating technology

Biomass energy technologies are well established and have been widely used for many years in mainland Europe; they are now the subject of increasing interest in the UK. Contemporary biomass boilers are technically advanced, achieving up to 95% efficiency. However, to operate effectively and reliably they require a consistent supply of wood fuel that has been prepared to an appropriately high standard.

Wood is a sustainable fuel

Wood or ‘biomass’ is a sustainable fuel which provides heat, hot water and energy on both a large and small scale. Moreover, woodfuel is considered to be ‘carbon lean’, meaning that each tree absorbs the same amount of carbon dioxide when growing as it releases when burned. It is only the minimal amounts of fossil fuel used in processing that makes it carbon ‘lean’ rather than carbon neutral. When a woodland is managed in a sustainable manner new tree growth will be absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide, offsetting that released by the woodfuel produced from the woodland. The overall contribution to atmospheric CO2 levels is minimal.

Is there enough wood and isn’t it bad to cut down trees?

Common concerns, often raised are whether the UK has sufficient woodland stocks to support a sustainable supply of woodfuel and also after years of being told to “plant a tree’, whether it’s beneficial to cut down trees? There is extensive capacity for wood fuel in the UK. Studies by groups such as the Forestry Commission indicate that much of the UK’s woodland is under-managed or not managed at all. Unmanaged woodland is actually unhealthy woodland, to the detriment of vigorous tree growth as well as overall biodiversity.

Managing Woodlands

Bringing these woodlands back into sustainable management offers many benefits in addition to opening up a significant renewable woodfuel resource. This includes encouraging the growth of more woodland areas, generating income and jobs for hard hit rural economies and creating localised energy security. Furthermore, it has been shown that ‘arboricultural arisings’ (the wood from tree surgery and pruning) currently lacks a market. Some figures suggest that over 68% of this material is simply going to waste (Woodfuel Resource Study). Using this by-product of woodland management would create value in this waste wood, if it can be used as biomass fuel. Other sources have also been identified, such as recovered wood. As the market for wood fuel grows economic projections indicate the creation of new woodland areas.

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