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  • Biomass Industry in UK Threatend

    2010 - 04.19

    There is a growing demand for material from a new fleet of biomass plants and according to a forestry trade group the UK suppliers will struggle to meet demand.

    Late last week a new report from the Confederation of Forest Industries was released stating that the rising demand for fuel from large scale biomass energy plants could leave the UK reliant on imports of wood chips and pellets for the first time. In addition a study entitled Wood Fibre Availability and Demand in Britain 2007-2025 predicts that the domestic supply of wood chips and pellets will be exceeded by 2012 if the plans to build new waves of biomass power plants go ahead.

    If all the biomass plants in the pipeline are built then the amount of imported wood could rise rapidly to roughly 27 million tonnes per year. By 2025 the demand could almost equal the size of today’s global wood fibre biomass trade. Demand for a variety of different kinds of timbers grown in Britain, including short rotation coppice and sawmill by-products such as wood chips will increase significantly should even a small percentage of the energy plants become operational.

    The increased demand for wood fibre to generate energy has been prompted by the government’s climate change policies and associated incentives such as Renewable Energy Certificates.

    In the short term prices are expected to increase as pressure is put on global supply chains, which could potentially affect the existing and potential new users of wood fibre. Further pressure could be put on the availability of wood fibre in Britain by the Renewable Heat Incentive, which is due to be launched in 2011. This news will further strengthen the case for investment in improving the biomass supply chain and has been welcomed by forestry firms and wood chip producers.

    However, supporters of biomass power maintain that in order to maximise the carbon emission savings from wood fired power plants it is necessary to only use supplies of wood chips and pellets from those sourced close to the facility.

    The Timber Investment Blog is sponsored by Greenwood Management. For more information on investing in Forestry please click here

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