Do you know where your wood pellets are produced?
Wood pellets are now manufactured and used across the world following scientists declaring a climate emergency and therefore our need to accelerate the move away from using fossil fuels like coal, oil, LPG, and natural gas. Wood pellets can provide a carbon-neutral alternative for many applications including:
- Space and process heating
- Cooking on wood pellet fired ranges
- Alfresco uses such a BBQ, pizza ovens, outdoor patio heater
- Secondary space heating like pellet stoves
Global wood pellet production has more than doubled in the last ten years, especially in the last year with the stoppage of imports from Russia to the UK.
Not all wood pellets are the same, they can have different colours, different diameters, be made of different wood species, and be virgin or recycled wood which leads to different characteristics. These characteristics can include ash content, calorific value, and durability which can impact the amount of dust (or fines) created during transport.
Two main factors to consider when choosing your source of wood pellets
Quality impacts many characteristics of wood pellets. The main internationally recognised mark of quality is ENplus A1. Depending on the wood fibre used to manufacture the wood pellets, the ash content, calorific value, and other characteristics can vary. ENplus A1 wood pellets are only manufactured from virgin wood fibre so there will be zero contaminants on them that could damage appliance internals or create harmful emissions like you might get from burning paints or varnishes on waste wood. ENplus A1 covers both the production of the wood pellet as well as its delivery. It is important that you buy wood pellets that are both produced and delivered to the full accredited ENplus A1 standard. Producers and distributors that are accredited will display the ENplus A1 logo on their invoices and other documentation.
Sustainability is important as we need to ensure that only sustainably sourced materials are used for wood pellet production. See how we source our materials and ensure all our materials are sourced sustainably. We also manufacture our pellets from renewable energy (heat and electricity) that we produce ourselves at our sites (link to Balcas sustainability video showing sawmill and CHP).
In GB the Government has a biomass suppliers list that is a measure of sustainability and all wood fuels used to claim RHI must be accredited to this standard.
A globally used measure of sustainability is the sourcing hub of Preferred by Nature who is an NGO (formerly called Nepcon). Their timber sourcing hub can be viewed at: https://preferredbynature.org/sourcinghub/timber. They carry out regular audits of how sustainable the timber supply is in different regions. This checks aspects such as the legality of harvesting, the legality of exports, protected species and areas, ethics, corruption, the legality of employment and wages, and health & safety. Countries that are shown to be low risk are coloured green and generally score 100/100 in the audit (like the UK, Ireland, USA, etc). Other countries with perceived higher risks have a lower score and are coloured orange or red and have much lower scores some even scoring zero (like Russia, Brazil, Nigeria, and India).
So if you are concerned about the sustainability of the wood fibre being used in the production of the wood pellets you are using we recommend you ask your supplier. Alternatively, you can make sure you only use locally grown wood fibre in locally produced wood pellets.
If you would like any additional information, please check our FAQ section.