Increase in woodfuel cuts back on carbon emissions



Environment Minister, Dr Aileen McLeod, has welcomed an increase in the use of woodfuel in Scotland as excellent news for small scale rural businesses – and for Scotland’s effort to cut carbon emissions.

The 2013/14 report on ‘Woodfuel Demand and Usage in Scotland’ was commissioned by Forestry Commission Scotland.

It shows that the total of woodfuel used in 2014 rose to 1.1million oven dry tonnes (odt) - an increase of 361,000 odt on the previously reported figure for 2012.  This large increase since 2012 was largely due to the introduction of six large schemes. 

However, the underlying trend for smaller-scale boilers is also showing a steady increase coupled to the success of the RHI scheme.

This increase helped reduce the use of other high-carbon energy sources and so cut CO2 emissions by 1.3 million tonnes in 2014.  This is equivalent to the emissions from driving a Ford Focus (1.6) 9.6 billion km in a year.

Dr McLeod said:

“Woodfuel is a fantastic resource that is delivering benefits to rural communities on several fronts.

“As well as sustaining many small-scale supplier businesses, it also makes significant fuel cost savings for those rural businesses that have installed non-domestic boilers.

 “The increased use of woodfuel and the continuing shift towards greater use of renewable heat also helps to create specialist employment opportunities for maintenance engineers and improves woodland management as woodland owners aim to establish a stable, sustainable woodfuel supply.

“It makes an impressive contribution to Scotland’s effort to tackle climate change by helping to meet our renewable heat target and aiding our ongoing drive to cut CO2 emissions.

“I am also very heartened to note that further expansion is anticipated in the next few years.”

As well as helping to monitor how the success of the Renewable Heat Incentive will impact on local woodfuel supply, and give an insight into likely future levels of demand for timber, the data is also used to inform policy around the management of Scotland’s forests.

Woodfuel accounted for over 90% of the total renewable heat output in 2013 & 2014 in Scotland, with an estimated contribution to the Scottish Government’s renewable heat targets of 2,036k megawatt hours [MWh] (2013) and 2,744k MWh (2014).

Notes to editors

  1. Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment and Forestry Directorate.
  2. Forest Enterprise Scotland is an agency of Forestry Commission Scotland and manages the National Forest Estate on behalf of Scottish Ministers.
  3. The majority of wood-fuelled non-domestic boilers are located in rural areas where gas connections are not available or not affordable and biomass substitutes for more expensive fuels.
  4. It is important to take into account the potential impact of woodburning on local air quality. These impacts can be avoided through use of high quality, low emission plants. The replacement of old coal and oil fired plant with high quality wood fired boilers located off the gas grid will reduce emissions, delivering co benefits for both air quality and climate change. In urban areas or where an Air Quality Management Area has been declared, biomass heat deployment is less common and generally larger units are used which are cleaner.
  5. Of the total 1,098k odt used in 2014, 53% was virgin wood fibre which is an equivalent to an estimated 1million green tonnes. This is approximately 14% of the total softwood harvest in Scotland in 2014.
  6. Tha Coimisean na Coilltearachd Alba na phàirt de Bhuidheann-Stiùiridh na h-Àrainneachd is Coilltearachd aig Riaghaltas na h-Alba. Tha e an urra ri riaghladh agus cumail maoineachadh is comhairle ri coilltearachd ann an Alba. Tha Iomairt Choilltean na h-Alba na fo-bhuidheann aig Coimisean na Coilltearachd Alba a tha a’ ruith Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta.
  7. Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0300 067 6507 / 07785 527590 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.