Increase in woodfuel usage opens up new market opportunities

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With the demand for woodfuel in Scotland continuing to increase, turning currently underused sources of wood into a locally sourced fuel – and a new revenue stream – is becoming more and more attractive, according to Forestry Commission Scotland.

A report into woodfuel usage published this week indicates that by using the equivalent of over 1 million green tonnes of woodfuel in 2009, large-scale energy generators and local heat users saved over half a million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

This low cost, low-carbon option is proving particularly popular with small to medium businesses and community heat projects, which account for the largest number of woodfuel installations in the past year.

Environment Minister, Roseanna Cunningham said:

“This is excellent news for Scotland. The fact that businesses across the country are making the move to woodfuel shows it makes business sense and that confidence in this emerging sector is helping new, local suppliers to make a go of their woodfuel business.

“But the increasing demand for clean, green woodfuel means that we have to make the best and most efficient use of all our available resources.

“A recent study indicates that there could be over 400,000 tonnes of biomass material available from as yet untapped sources that could be recovered and processed into wood chips or pellets.

“This additional but finite resource is available at locations all over the country so it makes sense that we focus our efforts on using it locally, prioritising it for local heat or combined heat and power generation.”

Overall demand is expected to rise to around 1.3 million green tonnes (669,840 odt) in 2010 and current proposals could further increase demand in the future. The Scottish Government is starting work on a review of the blend of support for biomass, given its focus on supporting heat use.

Forestry Commission Scotland has also reconvened the Woodfuel Task Force to act on the findings of the study and explore ways of creating the infrastructure that will support and encourage efforts to capitalise on this material.

The Woodfuel Usage Study is at and the Arboricultural Arisings report can be found at

Notes to Editors
1) Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate and manages the 660,000 hectare national forest estate for the benefit of communities, biodiversity, the economy and to help in the fight to mitigate the effects of climate change. The use of wood as a fuel will help reduce harmful greenhouse emissions and the Commission is working hard to promote woodfuel developments across the country. The Commission continues to protect, manage and expand Scotland’s forests and woodlands in a way which helps in the fight against climate change.

2) The research on Arboricultural Arisings was carried out by Nevin Associates through the EU-funded RBAN project, managed by the Commission in partnership with the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise, with support from Glasgow & Clyde Valley Green Network Partnership.

3) Large-scale electricity and combined heat and power plants and heat use by timber processers currently accounts for around 90% of woodfuel usage.

4) Arboricultural arisings are material such as brash (thin branches where the woody material is generally less than 2 inches thick) and heavy timer/round wood (woody material more than 2 inches thick, which is the material which would have the most potential for biomass energy generation.

5) The Scottish Biomass Heat Scheme helped a 25% surge in the small-scale sector.