Wood based fuel quality can now be certified as part of a new scheme being launched by HETAS. The Solid Biomass Assurance Scheme (SBAS) is being launched with the support of government funding from the Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC). It will enable wood fuel and biomass producers to market their products using the recognised HETAS SBAS logo to provide customers with a mark of quality assurance.
Project Manager, Mark Russell explained: “Good quality fuel is essential for safe and efficient combustion, whereas poor quality fuel will burn badly, wasting energy and money. At the moment there is no clear labelling for wood or biomass fuel, but SBAS addresses this issue and can provide consumers with the confidence that they are choosing the best product appropriate to their appliance.”
Increasing awareness of environmental damage caused by the use of fossil fuels has led to a growing interest in using wood as a sustainable, renewable, low carbon alternative. Wood is a major source of renewable heat energy and, burned efficiently, it produces virtually no smoke. As trees grow they absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), incorporating the carbon into new growth and returning oxygen to the atmosphere. When the wood is burned this carbon is oxidised and released as CO2. This means that wood is a low carbon fuel, and can significantly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels while also reducing our CO2 emissions.
Although the woodland area in Britain is limited, there is sufficient timber to meet foreseeable future demand. Managing woodland improves biodiversity and increasing the proportion of managed woodland supports jobs in the forestry industry. Replacing imported fossil fuels for locally produced wood fuel improves fuel security and encourages local community.
For producers who wish to apply for SBAS approval there are four categories; logs, chips, pellets and briquettes. In each category, the fuel is assured in reference to European Standards, with indicators such as size, moisture content and energy content. The scheme has been designed to appeal to both large and small producers, and the two companies who have already had their products approved on the pilot scheme are Certainly Wood and The Firewood Company.
Moisture content has the biggest effect on heat output from wood. Any water in the fuel has to evaporate away before the wood or biomass will burn, using up energy and reducing the amount of useful heat as opposed to steam up the chimney. Wood and biomass with a high moisture content can be exceptionally difficult to light, and will produce lots of smoke and tars. These tars can be corrosive, potentially damaging the lining of the flue and increasing the danger of a chimney fire. The maximum moisture content allowed for SBAS is different depending on the fuel category.
A list of SBAS approved fuel suppliers will be available on the HETAS website at: www.hetas.co.uk, along with SBAS application packs which producers can download.