The newly formed Wood Heat Association (WHA) will unify the 700-plus companies across the UK’s wood heat supply chain; from equipment manufacturers and installers to fuel producers and distributors. It will benefit from the REA’s back-office support much the same way as the Solar Trade Association (STA) did when it became affiliated to the REA in 2011.

The launch of the WHA comes at an exciting time for the industry. Wood heat is the fastest growing source of low carbon heating for UK homes and businesses under the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Biomass accounts for 56% of investment and over 90% of energy generation under the scheme between 2010 and 2012, demonstrating its value for money.

“Wood heat is rapidly becoming one of the major players in UK renewables,” explained the WHA’s interim chairman Julian Morgan-Jones. “As the industry grows, it is increasingly important to establish a clear identity and a strong voice to Government and stakeholders. The REA is already doing great work here so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, which is why we are very happy to be working with them.

“Our number one focus is securing the future of the RHI beyond 2016. Beyond that, we are also working to professionalise the industry so it is well equipped to tackle the challenges ahead. An important first step is to raise awareness and standards across the wood heat supply chain; from boiler design, manufacture and installation to the safety, quality and sustainability of wood fuel. Together we’re seeking to encourage more joined up thinking between fuel suppliers and equipment installers.”

All corporate WHA members will automatically be given membership to the REA’s existing Biomass Heat Group (BHG), and vice versa, with the two groups set to run in parallel until at least 2015. The REA also hosts the UK Pellet Council, which is the UK licence holder for the European ENplus standard for wood pellet fuel quality. 

Market boom

The REA’s chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska said: “As individual technology sectors reach that tipping point, they begin need a more distinct voice to Government and stakeholders, with dedicated resources, to keep the momentum going. We are giving the wood heat industry that extra level of support to achieve exactly that.

“The REA consistently champions the benefits of all renewable energy sources, which all help reduce our reliance on imported and polluting fossil fuels while offering exciting opportunities for jobs and growth in innovative businesses. The WHA will drill down more deeply into the specific benefits of wood heating as a key part of a sustainable bio-based economy, helping households and businesses cut their heating costs as well as their environmental impacts.”

The launch of the WHA comes as a new report from the US Energy Information Administration which showed a big jump in exports of wood pellets, with the vast majority of shipments going to the UK, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Italy. A principle driver in this increased marketing activity is the European Commission’s 2020 Climate and Energy Package which seeks to increase the renewable portion of EU energy consumption by 20%.

Luke Nicholls

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