Woodfuel resource assessed

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21 MARCH 2011NEWS RELEASE No: 14516

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A report published today (Monday 21 March) says that woodfuel could make a major contribution to renewable heat in Scotland – but only if best use is made of this important resource.

The Woodfuel Taskforce report assesses the pressures on woodfuel supply from a range of sources and states that here is currently the equivalent of around 432,000 oven dried tonnes (odt) of untapped wood resource.  It also suggests that improving timber production rates suggest this could at least double within the next ten years.

If used solely in heat only applications, this could make a substantial contribution towards meeting the Scottish Government’s 11% renewable heat target. The Scottish Government's update on renewable heat (published on Friday 19 March) shows that most of Scotland's renewable heat (2.8% of all of Scotland's heat) already comes from biomass.

It also highlights that there is insufficient resource available in Scotland to meet the projected 3.5 million tonne demand of large-scale electricity generation and Combined Heat and Power plants that are currently in development.

Welcoming the report, Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham, said:

“This is a very timely report from the Woodfuel Task Force that presents a clear picture of the pressures on wood supply. 

“Renewable heat use is on the increase across Scotland and this trend looks set to continue in the wake of the recently announced Renewable Heat Incentive.

“But we have limited biomass resource in Scotland and if we are to meet the target for renewable heat, it is vital that we make the most efficient, effective use of that resource in small-scale heat-only or combined heat and power schemes, particularly off gas-grid.

“This report clearly states that there is no capacity to support further large scale electricity generation biomass plants from the domestic wood fibre resource. With such plants already in development in England and Wales, I have initiated discussions with the UK government over the issues this raises for energy security and the risk of displacement of existing timber processors.”

The report can be found on the Forestry Commission’s Wood Fuel Taskforce pages at  www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/INFD-7APFXA

The report coincides with publication of a Scottish Government report on Renewable Heat demand and capacity, available at www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Business-Industry/Energy/Energy-sources/19185/Heat

Notes to Editors
1) Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate and manages the 660,000 hectare national forest estate.  Climate change is the biggest threat facing the planet and Scottish forestry is playing its part in helping tackle climate change. With trees naturally locking up carbon, they have a significant role in reducing the affects of climate change. The use of wood as a fuel will also help reduce harmful greenhouse emissions and the Commission is working hard to promote woodfuel developments across the country. Forestry Commission Scotland is continuing to protect, manage and expand Scotland’s forests and woodlands in a way which helps in the fight against climate change. www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland

2) The Woodfuel Task Force was set up in June 2007 to find ways of increasing the supply of wood for renewable energy production. It made 26 recommendations in 2008, and work is ongoing to implement these - such as further assessments of waste wood and arboricultural arisings; an annual wood fuel demand survey; development of energy forestry trials and pilot operations for brash recovery.

3) Ministers reconvened the Wood Fuel Task Force in July 2010 to assess progress against the first report and consider further issues of supply and demand.

e-mail: paul.munro@forestry.gsi.gov.uk