The Importance of Quality Fuel
Will Richardson of Rural Development Initiatives talks to HETAS about the importance of quality fuel and the initiatives in place for woodfuel suppliers, from Woodsure and Ready to Burn to Grown in Britain.
We are all familiar with the importance of producing and using the highest quality woodfuels – improved efficiency, reduced emissions, reduced wear and tear on appliances to name a few. Policy makers and enforcers are following the woodfuel industry with interest as more and more woodfuel burning appliances are installed and more and more woodfuel is being burned.
A number of Woodsure accredited suppliers in the north of England have been working hard to achieve top quality supply chains and I’ve set out below a couple of case studies on two different firewood suppliers using different production techniques to get consistently high quality fuel.
Delamere Logs at Norley, Cheshire created in 2010, is harvesting logs from its own land, as well as from the surrounding area, and is contributing to the local environment and economy. They have not only committed to Woodsure accreditation but have also achieved the Grown in Britain Standard, with both marks allowing them to demonstrate both the quality and locality of the product.
“Grown in Britain licensing guarantees that our firewood is all-British in origin,” says Will Starkey, partner at Delamere Logs. “The brand is a sign that timber products are sourced from managed British woodlands. Imported firewood can bring the threat of unwanted pests and diseases. Supporting British-grown timber and wood products removes such concerns and helps maintain jobs in rural economies here at home. Managing woodland correctly also benefits wildlife”.
Delamere Logs is an offshoot of the Starkey’s family farming business. The farm’s woodlands have always contributed to its livelihood, but brothers Sam and Will Starkey decided to create Delamere Logs in response to the growing market for woodfuel following the introduction of the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive.
Will and Sam rely on traditional natural seasoning of their firewood product. Small diameter hardwood roundwood is bought into their yard where it is stacked on bearers in an exposed location for 6 to 9 months before being processed direct into potato crates. Here the split firewood is stored for no less than 12 months in order to achieve consistent average moisture content levels of less than 20%. The advantages of natural seasoning is a much reduced initial capital outlay but the trade off is a very long lead in time from processing the timber to selling the finished product to the customer.
Woodfuel Barn at High Spen, Tyne and Wear, have been producing high quality firewood since 2009. Peter Stenner decided to create the business in response to the growing market for wood fuel as he realized a need for producing a sustainable local service to meet the increasing demand for great value dry logs. The business has been Woodsure accredited since 2015 and also holds Grown in Britain certification.
The business concentrates on kiln drying their product. In 2010 it was decided to install a biomass powered kiln drying logs down to very low moisture which are ideal for modern wood burning stoves. These logs not only burn extremely well but they are also a clean burn so they do not produce as much soot. The biomass used in the boiler is a by-product of the wood processing used in the production of the logs making the process efficient and sustainable. Consistent average moisture contents of less than 17% are achieved. The advantages and disadvantages of kiln drying are reversed to those of natural seasoning – high capital outlay compared to a very quick product turnaround time.
Of course, these case studies aren’t to say that a combination of both techniques can be used – initial air drying followed by finishing the product off in a kiln. Additionally, different types of kilning processes can be used including solar powered kilns such as poly tunnels. But both case studies demonstrate the commitment many businesses have made to the production of quality assured woodfuel giving consumers and policy makers confidence in our industry to deliver.
Grown in Britain’s Northern Group Scheme, of which Delamere Logs and Woodfuel Barn are members, is managed by Will Richardson of RDI Associates: “With the recent introduction of ash die back disease to the UK it’s critical that we all do what we can to reduce the potential spread of other pests and diseases from imported firewood,” he says. “Buying Grown in Britain licensed wood products, such as Delamere’s and Wood Fuel Barn’s woodfuel, householders and businesses can be assured of British traceability. This linked with Woodsure assurance gives customers complete peace of mind that their product is of the highest quality. They will also be helping to create a sustainable future for our forests and woodlands.”
Find out more
The Grown in Britain brand identifies wood that has been grown in Britain and assured through their all new licensing scheme. Click here to find out more.
RDI is a highly experienced project management, consultancy and training service provider working at the forefront of sustainable rural development. Visit the RDI website.