Questions and answers at Forest Fuels

group of school children with note pads and teachers
Forest Fuels work site cutting down trees

Frequently Asked Questions

Is wood fuel clean?

Unlike oil, gas or LPG, Wood fuel presents no risk if accidentally released into the environment and there are no harmful by-products. The flue gas is smoke free and the ash content of between 0.5% and 1.5% by volume is minimal. 

Why is wood as a fuel carbon neutral?

As it burns, wood produces carbon dioxide - one of the main greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. But this CO2 is absorbed by new growth. This means that no extra carbon is put into the atmosphere - which is why wood fuel is carbon neutral. Although, during processing more CO2 is released to the atmosphere, this is negligible. The 'embedded' carbon in woodchip is very small indeed, and in wood pellets is relatively, although more than in wood chip.

Woodland in the UK is a renewable resource and therefore as trees are felled new trees are planted or re-grow as coppice. During the process of photosynthesis carbon is stored in the growing tree and the woodland soil. In the UK woodlands are managed in line with the UK Forestry Standard and all felling is controlled by the Forestry Commission. The standards ensure that woodland is managed sustainably and to the best environmental standards.

Does using wood fuel for boilers damage woodland?

On the contrary, a demand for logs and woodchip creates a market for timber - which can make the difference between woodland management being financially viable and not. 

Where does Forest Fuels source its wood?

Forest Fuels supplies woodchip and logs from a series of depots around the UK. We purchase timber as close as possible to each depot from a wide range of suppliers including local farmers, co-operatives, woodland management companies, sawmills, arboriculturalists. Wood fuel is beginning to show its potential for unlocking the numerous under-managed woodlands and the consequent benefits to biodiversity.  

Can wood fuel benefit the local economy?

A growing wood energy industry benefits the local economy because it generates income for owners, contractors, processors and suppliers. The increased forest management improves future productivity and asset value. Woodland management activities increase local employment, as well as improving habitat and biodiversity.

Is there enough timber in the country?

The Forestry Commission have a calculated that there It is estimated 2 million tonnes per year of timber which is being produced by our unmanaged woodlands every year.  Managing these woodlands will have significant benefits in terms of employment and biodiversity – and wood fuel is believed to be a way of facilitating this.  This additional timber is enough to produce c.5million MWh of heat.

In addition, many hundreds of thousands of tonnes of timber are sent to landfill every year, mainly from the construction industry.  

Many of the large biomass electricity generating plants and CHP units which will take large volumes of timber will be located on the dockside, so that they can use imported timber.  There is certainly sufficient timber to supply a vast increase in the number of small to medium scale heat-only boilers.

Further information

For further information on wood fuel  you can download the following guidance documents:

Woodfuel Standards

Woodfuel Supply Contract Options

Woodfuel Processing

Woodfuel Storage

Woodfuel Distribution and Handling