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Woodfuel increasing in popularity
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More people are turning to biomass as fuel according to a new green energy survey from Forestry Commission England. The Forestry Commission is supporting the use of biomass through its woodfuel strategy, which aims to develop this growing market. The survey has identified almost 2,000 biomass heat boilers in England - an increase of 455 from 2008. The Yorkshire and Humber region has the most biomass heat boilers in England, with 290 installations out of the 1960 identified.
Woodfuel increasing in popularity

The North East's boilers are also some of the most powerful in the country, capable of generating 25 per cent of England's biomass boiler heat.

Angela Duignan, the Commission's head of woodfuel implementation, said: "More businesses and communities are choosing biomass as source of heat. Locally-grown woodfuel is a low carbon alternative to fossil fuels and will help the environment locally, by improving wildlife through woodland management, and globally, through cutting carbon emissions."

She said that England had more than one million hectares of woodland and forest but 60% were currently undermanaged. By managing these areas for woodfuel production, landowners could generate an income and improve biodiversity.

The commission has a team of regional woodfuel co-ordinators who are supporting the supply chain, from woodland owners, foresters, hauliers and fuel suppliers. They can also advise on the range of grants available for woodland management through to boiler installation.

Duignan added: "Woodfuel boilers are suitable for a whole range of larger, commercial and community buildings, and we want more people to consider this traditional fuel as a future energy-source. It is also providing a boost for the rural economy as jobs are being created, from foresters, hauliers, woodfuel suppliers and boiler installers."

An additional boost to the desirability of woodfuel is the announcement of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, due to start in April 2011. The government hope to see a rapid increase in the number of homes and offices heated by woodfuel, biogas, solar thermal, heat pumps and waste-to-energy technologies. This will be driven by the RHI guaranteeing that the average household will be paid well over £1,000 for the renewable heat they generate themselves.

Today, renewable heat technologies meet just 0.6% of UK heat demand, but by 2020 the government aims to meet 12% or more of the UK’s heat demand through renewables. Demand for heat dominates energy use in the UK and is responsible for 47% of the UK’s Carbon Emissions.

Renewable Energy Association Policy Director Gaynor Hartnell said; “The UK may be languishing behind the rest of Europe on renewable heat, but the proposals launched today are an important world first. The industry is confident these proposals give the UK pretty much the best chance of generating over 10% of its heat from renewables by 2020.”

The scheme, known as the “Renewable Heat Incentive”, offers long-term, fixed payments based on the type of installation.

Hartnell said; “Renewable heat is the sleeping giant of renewable energy in the UK with a major contribution to make. The sooner we invest and build capacity in the renewable heat industry, the better value and energy security this will bring the UK - and the more jobs will be created.”

The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.

The Biomass Heat Boilers in England 2009 survey was commissioned for the Forestry Commission, by the Renewable Energy Association Ltd. The survey was based on the responses from 35 installers about non-domestic biomass boilers.

The Biomass Energy Centre, which is owned and managed by the UK Forestry Commission, via Forest Research, its research agency has more information on all aspects of biomass at http://www.biomassenergycentre.org.uk/



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