The Irish BioEnergy Association (IrBEA) and the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance Scheme notes with great concern press reports today that the government may be considering a nationwide ban on burning all solid fuels to solve air quality and emissions issues regardless of their individual potential. IrBEA are objecting to wood fuels being potentially treated in the same way as fossil fuels, and essentially being tarred with the same brush. Wood fuels are an essential part in assisting Ireland reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and transiting to a low carbon economy. Properly dried and combusted, wood fuel is an environmentally safe fuel. Our organisation is specifically focused on developing wood fuels for their considerable benefits in terms of reduction of greenhouse gases and for providing a cost-effective and sustainable source of heating and efficient combined heat and power. IrBEA through the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance Scheme is specifically focused on developing quality wood fuels for consumers. Wood Fuels contribute added benefits in terms of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions when compared to fossil fuels while providing a cost-effective and sustainable source of heating and efficient combined heat and power.
Noel Gavigan, Technical Executive with the Irish Bioenergy Association and Manager of the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance Scheme states “we unquestionably must look to reducing all emissions of particulate matter and CO2, wood fuel offers over 90% reduction in greenhouse gases over fossil fuels. By only using properly dried wood fuels we can immediately reduce any particulate emissions to one third, further to this by using better technology such as enclosed stoves and now EU certified Ecodesign stoves, emissions are reduced by 89%.”
With the government proposal to consider a ban on using all solid fuels we would essentially remove Irelands potential to use its own natural resource. The state and private land owners have heavily invested in establishing forests, an investment that is provides valuable wood products for use in the Irish economy, in wood fuels, board products, and sawn timber and in other uses.
Gavigan concluded “Earlier this year we submitted a detailed, evidence-based proposal to the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment on talking the issue of totally unsuitable wet firewood being placed on the market and the implications this has for air pollution, and the heating value of wood fuel. The submission was followed up in a further communication in early October.
IrBEA has set a number of key recommendations to the department on the regulation of firewood for sale in Ireland. Specifically, we are calling for legislation to ban the retail sale of firewood with moisture content above 20% by the year 2022, with an interim limit of 25% by September 2020. We see this as a first and critical step to reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, particulates and nitrous oxides.”
Technical Notes to Editors
Wood fuel quality is critical to ensuring low emissions and high efficiency. The EU/ISO standard for firewood sets a limit of 25% moisture content for A1 firewood. It is well recognised and tested that wet domestic wood fuels produce high emissions of particulates and NOx, while at the same time giving little heat to the consumer. Firewood at 20% moisture content produces less than 33% of the emissions of wood fuel at 30% moisture content in older stoves, while in modern Eco-Design stoves the emission levels are reduced by almost 90%.
According to SEAI figures wood fuels produce as little as 3.2g CO2 per MJ heat, comparing this to gas which produces 56.9g, kerosene which produces 73.3g and heat pumps today which produce anything from 19g to 52g depending on the amount of wind on the electrical system. No other heating source can produce heat on demand with such a minimal impact on CO2 emissions.
About the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance Scheme (WFQA)
The Wood Fuel Quality Assurance (WFQA) scheme for Ireland is an all island scheme established to increase consumer confidence in wood fuel products sold in Ireland. The WFQA administered by IrBEA independently certifies and verifies suppliers of firewood, wood pellets, woodchip and wood briquettes. All certification is carried out against EN ISO 17225 standards for biomass fuels. The WFQA currently certifies 25 suppliers and engages in workshops and open days to promote the use of properly produced wood fuels. We welcome queries from the general public seeking to know more about using wood fuels and in identifying the correct type of fuel to use. Further details can be found at www.wfqa.org
About the Irish BioEnergy Association (IrBEA)
IrBEA was founded in May 1999. Its role is to promote the bioenergy industry and to develop this important sector on the island of Ireland. The organisation is a self-governing non-profit association of voluntary members. Our diverse membership includes: farmers and foresters, fuel suppliers, energy development companies, equipment manufacturers and suppliers, engineers, financiers and tax advisers, legal firms, consultants, planners, research organisations, local authorities, education and advisory bodies – anyone with an interest in the bioenergy industry. Governance and strategic oversight are provided by Board of Directors and a Management Committee, with support from a small Executive Team. IrBEA is affiliated to BioEnergy Europe and the European Biogas Association (EBA).
For further information please contact
Noel Gavigan, IrBEA Technical Executive & WFQA Programme Manager