Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Small Woods Association - Skill Sharing weekend 12-14th September 2014

The Small Woods Association has just released details on its 2014 skill sharing weekend.

The event will take place at the Woodland Enterprise Centre at Flimwell in East Sussex from Friday 12th to Sunday 14th September.

The event will include:

  • Two keynote speakers
    • Alison Field (Forestry Commission Regional Director for the South East) who will talk on the future for woodlands in the region, the impact of tree diseases and the changes in grants.
    • Tim Rowland (Future Trees Trust) will talk about their work in improving the planting stock of broadleaved trees so as to enhance the social, economic and environmental benefits that they offer.
  • Lectures and workshops on selling timber, woodland management problems, tool sharpening and a range of greenwood and coppice crafts
  • A session on woodland first aid
  • A tour of the managed woodlands at Flimwell
  • Foresters Question Time
  • Lunch on the Saturday, with a barbeque and social in the evening
  • A quiz and film show on arrival on the Friday.
  • Camping space is available free of charge, or we can advise on accommodation locally.
  • And last (but not least!) the Small Woods Association AGM.

The cost for the weekend will be £42 for Members, and £48 for members guests.  For more details and to book please visit the SWA website.

Members are welcome to attend for the AGM business ONLY free of charge - please contact

Friday, 22 August 2014

Lucas Mill - Fuelwood Case Study & Video

Those lovely people at Fuelwood have just created a new case study and video for the Lucas Mill - a portable saw mill that can be set up around a felled tree.

More videos can be found here.

Whilst on the subject of machinery Fuelwood has an interesting selection of ex-demo and second hand equipment - take a look here.

Finally, we should draw your attention to APF2014 which will take place at the Ragley Estate (Warwickshire) on the 18th to 20th September.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

RHI - biomass sustainability and Biomass Suppliers List (BSL)

Over the last few weeks we have received several emails from DECC regarding their policy for biomass sustainability that it applies to renewable energy subsidy schemes including the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and Renewables Obligation (RO).

Given the volume of reading required to keep up with all of the recent announcements we have attempted a summary to enable readers to locate some of the important documents.

First up is the Biomass sustainability policy Q&A that was released following the consultation workshops that took place in London.  This is well worth a read as it neatly summarises some key questions as well as confirming the following:
  • Introduction of the greenhouse gas and land criteria in the RHI/RO biomass sustainability policy will now be introduced from Spring 2015.
  • Non-domestic RHI participants will have two methods of demonstrating compliance with the forthcoming sustainability criteria:
These 'criteria' are:

  • GHG criteria: Biomass fuel used by RHI participants must meet a lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target of 34.8g CO2 equivalent per MJ of heat, or 60% GHG savings against the EU fossil fuel average.
  • Land Criteria: For woodfuel the criteria are outlined in the UK Timber Standard for Heat and Electricity.
Woodfuel meets the Timber Standard for Heat & Electricity if it "...originates from an independently verifiable legal and sustainable source and appropriate documentation is provided to prove it."

Currently this documentation is obtained via one of two routes:
  • Category A: Evidence that the woodfuel originates from a legal and sustainable source can be provided through the use of independent certification of the wood by a recognised forest certification scheme (e.g. FSC, PEFC).
  • Category B: Evidence that the woodfuel originates from a legal and sustainable source can also be provided in the form of alternative/bespoke documentary evidence that provides sufficient assurance that the source of the wood is legal and sustainable (e.g. via a supplier registered on the BSL or via self-reporting - for more details click here).

Summary of post consultation decisions

Some changes have been introduce following the consultation and feedback received during workshops.  These changes are as follows:

  • New requirements to report on the proportion of ‘hardwood’ and ‘softwood’. There will be an additional requirement to report on whether any of the wood used was likely to have come from threatened or protected species.
  • Arboricultural residues will be deemed sustainable under the Timber Standard for the RO and RHI.
  • Not to exempt wood from diseased trees from the Timber Standard.   
  • To “deem sustainable” under the Timber Standard, trees removed from non-forest land for ecological reasons.
  • Not to exempt wind blow from the Timber Standard at this stage but to keep the evidence under review.
  • Not to exempt non-waste residues from sawmills from the Timber Standard.
  • To add ‘highly biodiverse grasslands’ to the list of protected land types in the land criteria for non-wood solid and gaseous biomass.
Copies of the original consultation document and Government Response can be can be viewed on the DECC website.

Further reading:

BSL guidance and Q & A 

UK Timber Standard for Heat and Electricity

DECC February 2013 Government Response document, announcing RHI sustainability criteria 

DECC December 2013 Government Response document, providing an update on RHI sustainability criteria

Ofgem Renewables Obligation sustainability guidance

EU 2010 Report on biomass sustainability

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Ancient Woodland Restoration - FREE workshops

Monday, 11 August 2014

Renewable Heat Incentive - latest uptake figures from DECC

The latest RHI figures continue to demonstrate how successful the scheme has been at increasing the rate of renewable heat generation in Great Britain.

Biomass heating remains the clear 'winner' of the RHI and account for 94% of all installations, 99% of the installed capacity and 85% of the payments made under the scheme.  

Whilst the number of biomethane installations is small (just 3) they are starting to account for around 5.6% of the total payments made (which is great than the 'large biomass' category).  As I stated before this seems to demonstrate the enormous potential of biomethane production from anaerobic digestion.

Of note, particularly to those considering installing a biomass system, is the recent acceleration in applications seen in June.

Whilst the precise reasons for this dramatic increase are not clear (backlog?) it is possible that it might lead to additional tariff adjustments later in the year (on top of the 5% reduction for small biomass implemented on July 1st).

In terms of geography the South West region continues to lead the way with 19% of all installations. 

In the South East, where this blog lives, Kent has the most accredited installations.

The top 10 business types benefiting from the RHI are shown in the table.

Will there be more tariff adjustments in 2014?

In simple terms - yes, quite likely.

The results of the next tariff review will be  the announcement on 31 August 2014 (with any changes commencing on 1 October 2014).

The data suggests the expenditure thresholds for the overall RHI budget are starting to be exceeded.  The cause of this is 'small biomass' tariff which is now well over its  expenditure threshold. 

This situation has been tolerated for a while because uptake of the non-biomass tariffs was, and still is, well below forecast and the overall budget was within its limits.  The difference now is that uptake of the 'small biomass' tariff has accelerated so fast that it has now impacted the finances of the overall scheme.

Given the scale of the current overspend it is possible that a 10% reduction in the 'small biomass' tariff might take place on October 1st.  This would reduce the tariff from 8.4 p/kWh (tier 1) and 2.2 p/kWh (tier 2) to 7.6 pence and 2.0 pence, respectively.

The impact of this reduction for a 199 kW biomass boiler is around £2,000 a year (although this depends heavily on the heat load and of course the actual meter readings).


There has been a large 'spike' in applications in June - whether this develops into a 'trend' is yet to be seen.  Regardless of this the scheme overall is starting to overspend and as such the rules for degression are clear.

Any decision to reduce tariffs (in October) will most likely affect the 'small biomass' tariff.

Any sub-200 kW installations that are currently in progress now have a clear signal to complete as soon as possible.  New projects, with an expected commissioning date post-October 1st, should probably factor-in a lower tariff for feasibility and business planning purposes.