Wood waste for biomass fuel - A summary of the incentives and challenges (Version 3)

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The use of wood waste as a biomass fuel for the generation of energy, either electricity or heat offers two important benefits:

  • The energy generated has less of an impact in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared with energy generated by using fossil fuels.
  • The burden on landfill is reduced

The claim for a reduction in GHG emissions compared with fossil fuels is based on the assumption that the body of wood being burned is replenished by planting replacement trees, so that the carbon released to the atmosphere by the combustion is being recaptured in the short-term by new growth. In principle, therefore, excluding factors such as transport and processing, wood fuel is carbon neutral. This contrasts with fossil fuels, which are releasing carbon that has been locked up for a long period of time and which is steadily accumulating in the atmosphere.

This Construction Briefing concentrates on wood waste (as opposed to virgin wood) and aims to provide potential investors into burning equipment or companies wishing to supply wood waste into the market with background information and to explain the key issues associate with exploiting the wood waste stream as a a source of energy.

This is the third instalment in a series of Construction Briefings investigating the use of wood as a biomass fuel. The other two instalments are: Wood as a biomass fuel - The main issues to consider and Encouraging the growth of wood fuel - A review of Government policies, regulations and financial incentives


  • Factors encouraging the use of waste wood
    • Renewables obligation
    • The Renewable Heat Incentive
    • Landfill Directive 99/31/EC
    • Landfill tax
    • Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme
    • Banning wood from landfill
    • Waste quality protocol
  • Factors which will limit the use of wood waste as a biomass fuel
    • Waste Incineration Directive (200/76/EC)
    • Availability of wood waste
  • Equipment and practicalities
  • Conclusion

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