Burn more wood for the greater good

The idea of using wood for fuel might not be new, but, according to Government, we need to burn more to take full advantage of the environmental benefits.

Environment minister Joan Ruddock is pushing the potential of burning waste wood in an effort to divert the degradable material from landfill and make the most of its embodied energy.

The significant carbon and energy benefits of recovering energy from waste wood are detailed in a new information report on the sector that surveys the activities of producers, aggregators and users of waste wood.

Recycling and energy markets for clean, virgin wood have been growing in recent years but waste wood has been a largely overlooked resource.

According to Government statistics up to 10 million tonnes of waste wood is being produced in the UK each year, most of which goes to landfill.

Ms Ruddock, Minister for Climate Change and Waste, said: “It has been estimated that recovering energy from 2 million tonnes of waste wood could generate 2600GWh electricity and save 1.15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, with greater benefits available by recovering heat as well as power.

“This is a huge potential resource that is being wasted.”

Government acknowledges that the majority of waste wood is likely to be treated, painted or otherwise contaminated but argues that with more combined heat and power plants which meet the requirements of EU directives on the burning of contaminated waste, there is a huge potential for this waste stream.

A pdf of the report, Waste wood as a biomass fuel: market information report can be found on Defra’s website.

Sam Bond

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