Bioenergy industry leaders are urging the UK Government to keep wood fuel supply chains fully open to ensure heat can be provided to key frontline organisations and businesses.
The Biomass Heat Works! campaign expressed concerns over key organisations being under immense pressure due to the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. Biomass is a key utility resource, particularly for rural areas, and the wood fuel supply chain (including wood pellets and wood chips) requires UK production and imported pellets "in equal measure", according to Biomass Heat Works!.
The organisation stressed that many large-scale agricultural producers rely on biomass fuel. One of the UK's largest poultry producers uses approximately 20,000 tonnes of wood pellets per annum across sites nationally, and one of the UK's leading supermarket chains heats almost 100 of its sites using wood pellets, equivalent to around 30,000 tonnes annually.
Mark Lebus, chair of the UK Pellet Council, said: "These are unprecedented times and nobody could have foreseen the impact which this outbreak is having, and unfortunately will continue to have, in the short-term.
"It is therefore essential that key frontline organisations like the NHS and healthcare providers, other essential businesses like supermarkets, food producers and manufacturers supplying much-needed items, and key workers, can 100% rely on our industry to provide critical biomass heating in a time of crisis."
Lebus added that suppliers are "pulling out all the stops" to ensure wood fuel deliveries arrive on time, but with imported pellets reaching UK ports on a weekly basis, there are concerns over the stability of biomass fuel supplies. He said: "We're asking the government to include is in their planning as they would do for traditional fossil fuels, and ensure free movement into and around the UK.
"Suppliers have already implemented strict social distancing policies to ensure no contact is maintained when delivering, and therefore we must keep frontline organisations, as well as homes and businesses located in rural areas, heated and operational."