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A drive to help hard-pressed businesses save cash and cut carbon footprints by using local firewood kicks off with a free event in Renfrewshire next week.
Hotel owners, farmers, tourism businesses and anyone else keen to explore the incentives and cutting edge technology for burning wood are invited to the information evening in Paisley on 27 June. The event is being organised by the Central Scotland Woodfuel Forum.
Until the 20th century, firewood was the most common source of fuel used by Scottish farms, hostelries and homes for heating and cooking.
As oil central heating ushered in a new era of convenience, the use of firewood declined, and on many farms trees were removed or left unmanaged.
However soaring prices of high carbon heating fuels such as coal and kerosene and huge advances in wood burning technology have recently triggered a steep rise in demand for woodfuel.
Sales of wood burning stoves have rocketed and firewood merchants across the country are struggling to keep up with the explosion in demand for logs to fuel them.
Meanwhile, as the drive to cut carbon emissions gathers pace and oil prices rise, biomass boilers are rapidly gaining recognition as a practical, efficient way of heating homes and businesses.
Dan Gates, from the wood heating specialists Uaine Limited, chairs the Central Scotland Woodfuel Forum and will be the keynote speaker at the free seminar at the Tannahill Suite in Paisley Town Hall from 6 - 8 pm.
Mr Gates draws on eight years’ experience in the biomass industry in asserting that the time is ripe for bringing woods into management for fuel.
“With the new and rapidly expanding market for woodfuel, and uncertainty over the future affordability of fossil fuel heating, the economic case for land managers to diversify into growing trees for firewood is getting stronger all the time,’ he said.
Figures and productivity rates will be explored during the workshop. Mr Gates says two to three hectares of well managed woodland would be enough for a medium to large farmhouse with a 25 - 50 kilowatt boiler to be entirely self sufficient in fuel.
“Support is available to help finance forestry projects and biomass boilers, and to help with marketing woodfuel produced on the farm,” he added. “The Scotland Rural Development Programme can fund boilers and specialist processing equipment, and encourages the creation of new woodlands with grants that will contribute to the cost of their establishment.
“Automated log, chip and pellet boilers are eligible for payments under the UK Government’s Renewable Heat Inventive(RHI), a cash back scheme for heat similar to the feed in tariff for solar or wind.”
Event organiser Amanda Calvert of Rural Enterprise Services said using woodfuel was one of the most environmentally friendly ways to heat homes and businesses.
“A tree absorbs the same amount of carbon dioxide when it is growing as is released when it is burned,” she explained. “Meanwhile burning fossil fuels like coal and oil releases carbon stored underground millions of years ago.
“Huge quantities of greenhouse gases are released through the refining, transportation and burning of oil, coal and gas. The emissions from biomass are well under 10% of those from fossil fuel.”
The Paisley evening is the first in a series of five free seminars being held across southern Scotland over the course of the summer.
Similar events will be held in Falkirk on 9 August; Falkland Estate on Fife on 23 August; Whitmuir near Selkirk on 6 September and Dunbar on 20 September.
Keith Wishart, Forestry Commission Scotland Conservator for Central Scotland said: "For farmers, developing their own woodfuel supply from under managed woodlands could be very beneficial. Trees can turn an unproductive area of land to a productive one.
“Developing their own woodfuel supply can be an opportunity for farmers to both to save money in fuel costs and to develop a new income stream from sales of woodfuel."
To book your place at the seminar or for details of future events contact Amanda Calvert on 07956622452 e-mail email@example.com . For more information on woodfuel as a source of renewable energy www.usewoodfuel.co.uk