Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Surrey Hills Woodfuel Challenge Conference

This conference is about wood as sustainable, green, carbon neutral fuel. It looks at the question: Why would you choose wood?
And its panel of experts will explain: Why you should choose wood!
Organised by the Surrey Wood Fuel Group, this is the second October conference for people who are involved in upgrading old buildings or designing and building new ones, either in the public or private sector. The aim is to explain the business opportunities relating to the rapidly expanding woodfuel market.
Speakers will look at the potential for wood to heat housing complexes, institutions, office blocks and civic buildings and show why architects, designers, landowners, farmers, planners and builders should consider opting for wood fuel in a wide range of projects and how they can do it.
Speakers include Oliver More from Ofgem, Michael Baxter from the Albury Estate, Mark Lebus from LC Energy, Chris Miles from Econergy, Gary Battell (Woodlands advisor) from Suffolk County Council and Bill Biddell from the Hampton Estate.

The financial position has changed rapidly over the last year and speakers will explain the subsidies available through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and show the on-going cost benefits of switching from fossil fuel to wood, as well as being shown the nuts and bolts of wood heating installation.
Wood fuel heating is now established in this country. Surrey for example has 167,715 acres of woodland, and wood fuel is Surrey County Council’s official preferred heating source.
There are some high profile wood fuel champions already enjoying the benefits, including the University of Surrey and Birtley House. Delegates will be able to see for themselves how the woodchip system heats the Birtley House Nursing Home, inspecting both boiler house and chip store.
The conference will demonstrate the extent of the wood fuel supply chain in Surrey. This is a wooded county and wood is a sustainable resource with an expanding network of suppliers. Using wood for fuel enables woodland to be managed for biodiversity and conservation.

Booking for this event (which includes lunch) is essential and a conference fee of £25 plus a £2.50 booking fee will be charged at the time of booking.

This event is supported by the Forestry Commission and Birtley House.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

RSPB on woodfuel and bioenergy

Stevens Croft is owned and operated by E.ON Climate
and Renewables and is the UK’s largest wood fired
biomass station producing 44 MW of clean electricity
 The RSPB has released a report that looks at the impact on increasing domestic demand for woodfuel on overseas habitats.

The report highlights the number of biomass power stations currently in the planning process which, when built, could increase demand for fuel significantly and lead to an increase in the use of imported wood.

The RSPB's report is hot on the heels of the Renewable Energy Association's (REA) recently launched 'Back Biomass' campaign which calls for a long-term approach to the Government's commitment to biomass heat and power.

Whilst the RSPB and REA are perhaps looking at the biomass 'opportunity' from two different perspectives they both acknowledge the critical role to be played by 'sustainable' harvesting.  By this they mean that woodfuel can be produced, domestically or otherwise, at a rate that does not jeopardise the source woodland or forest.

The RSPB favour an "...an increase in the use of domestic wood fuel as a result of thinning out poorly managed and overly dense woodlands...".  However, they warn against the overuse of biomass energy generating technologies. 

Whilst the REA is far bolder in its support of biomass energy it acknowledges that sustainable feedstock is also critical:

"Carefully planned woodland management, carried out by experienced professional foresters creates healthier, better structured woodlands with greater growth and increased biodiversity. Woodland in England is often ‘unmanaged’ because no attractive markets exist for the wood products of a managed forest."

The REA also recognise the fact that woodfuel is a market-based opportunity for the forestry sector:

"By supporting the biomass industry, the real market value of sustainable biomass sources will be realised and the sustainability and biodiversity of the UK’s forests can be enhanced."

The Kent Downs Woodfuel Pathfinder welcomes both the RSPB report and the REA campaign.  The Pathfinder project has always promoted sustainable woodland management alongside biomass energy and is actively supporting woodland owners and users biomass technology to ensure that biomass feedstocks are sustainable.

For support with woodland management, woodfuel and biomass heating please contact Matthew.Morris@kentdowns.org.uk.