The market for woodfuel
Woodfuel and in particular woodchip has been the driving force behind the growth of the biomass market in the UK over the past 10 years. The opening of a market for chipped timber has allowed the offcuts and thinning’s from sustainable woodland management to be marketed as a renewable energy source that can provide heating for domestic and commercial buildings as well as power stations and which is going some way to relieving our reliance on fossil fuels.
The keys drivers of the market that we see are that the chips are renewable, emit less carbon than fossil fuel, and at 3p per kilowatt hour are half the price of heating oil and a fifth of the price of electricity, plus the product is locally produced leaving a low carbon footprint.
Nearly any species of softwood and poplar can be used to produce woodchips though it will inevitably be mainly pine from the East of England. Hardwood is normally too valuable as firewood. The material comes from low grade softwood and every time a tree is cut down about 20% of the volume is of this quality.
Distance is important because of the cost of transport, and a maximum of 80 miles would be the limit for chips because of its bulk and light weight. If timber is bought in the round it can be transported further to be chipped on site.
The drying time in the round is normally about 12 months before chipping, but it can take longer depending on the diameter. This period gets moisture content down to around 30%. We try to chip in the summer months when the surface moisture is at its lowest. We chip directly into our storage facility where we retain a constant supply of woodchip for any unexpected surges in demand; each tonne of roundwood will produce about 4m3 of chips.
The chips in a heap heat up almost immediately and within a few days can reach a temperature of up to 50 degrees C due to bacterial activity. However the heat itself starts to kill off the bacteria and within a couple of months the chips cool down. The heating drives off further moisture and the end result is chips which are very dry at under 25% MC.
We offer two sizes of Chip, G30 & G50 both at a moisture content of 25%.
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