If you own a wood pellet boiler, you are likely to have run into problems finding an adequate supply of wood pellets at a decent price this winter. The reason for this is that the unseasonably warm winter across Europe has restricted timber harvesting. This has had a knock-on effect, causing the residues produced by sawmills (e.g. sawdust, slab wood and offcuts), which are typically used to produce pellets, to be in short supply. As a result, European wood fibre prices have risen and so has the price of imported pellets.
Back in September last year, together with the NFU we responded to the Renewable Heat Incentives (RHI) Consultation on eligible heat, demonstrating strong agreement with other trade associations such as the Renewable Energy Association.
The NFU has said “Drying is a legitimate part of the agricultural processing of food and animal feed products, where it may be required for reasons of food safety, quality and to meet contractual obligations on moisture content – sometimes under challenging ambient environmental conditions.”
In the UK many of our heathland and wetland sites are routinely managed to preserve these unique habitats. This provides a big opportunity for the biomass sector as the harvested plant material could be used as a renewable fuel. This material, termed conservation arisings, is potentially a huge resource as there is currently over 4 million hectares of this type of land in the UK and much of the biomass is burnt in situ.