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Wood-burning stoves ‘could’ help UK to meet its green targets

Wood burning stove Flickr copyright Jocelyn Catterson
Wood burning stove Flickr copyright Jocelyn Catterson

Wood-burning stoves could account for 10% of the UK Government’s carbon reduction targets by 2020, according to a UK-based trade body.

The Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) said that wood-burning stoves also have the potential to produce 25% of the government’s domestic renewable heat energy target by 2020.

According to the trade body, wood-burning stoves have experienced a huge upsurge in popularity over the past decade.

More than one million UK homes are already using wood-burning stoves and fireplaces, and annual UK sales of more than 175,000 units. There are also a significant number of UK houses that would be suitable for installation of a wood burning stove, the SIA said in a statement.

Between this predicted demand and the expected supply of fuel, it is estimated that wood-burning stoves offer a potential reduction in UK carbon emissions of more than two million tonnes per year, the SIA said.

The news comes as a new industry-led environmental standard has been unveiled, which commits the wood burning stove industry to start meeting stringent new green laws six years ahead of schedule

According to the SIA, this new standard will ensure that all newly-designed wood-burning stove models will meet European environmental standards for particulate emissions, which are not due to be enforced until 2022.

In a statement, the SIA said: “This will ensure British wood-burning stoves are more environmentally friendly than they have ever been, putting the industry at the cutting edge of European standards. The decision means that by 2020, the main manufacturers will be manufacturing only wood-burning stoves that meet the new Ecodesign criteria, two years ahead of schedule.”

This includes the launch of a new ‘SIA Ecodesign-ready’ stamp so consumers know their purchase is of the highest environmental standard. The administration of the scheme will be overseen by HETAS, the largest government recognised standards and certifications scheme for solid fuel heating appliances.

Innovation

Speaking to Bioenergy Insight, SIA spokesman Dennis Milligan said: “The main aim of this standard is to improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions. It has been in the making for a number of years but was agreed last year. It is called Eco design. The driver is not on the public to reduce emissions but on the industry.

“There are some 300,000 stoves in the UK. It is a really seasonal-based industry. Most sales take place in the autumn and winter. However, some people like to get the stoves to heat their houses in the spring and autumn to heat one room without turning the central heating on to heat the whole house.”

“With the modern wood fires you have to burn the logs two to three times in the fire chamber.  However, with the new system you use less oxygen to burn the wood and this reduces the emissions that travel up the chimney. The reduction of emissions are so significant and we want to introduce our stoves early.”

In fact, the SIA state that modern wood-burning stoves are virtually carbon neutral when using current burn technology. High-quality wood emits less CO2 when burned than it does with natural decay, so with correctly installed stoves producing emissions of only 0.008 kg CO2 per kWh - compared to 0.198kg for gas, and 0.517kg for electricity3 - wood provides an attractive alternative to gas and electricity for heating the home.

Milligan concluded: “In the past two years, there has been more and more of a focus on air quality. The two issues of the green agenda and air quality go hand in hand.”

Wood burning stove Flickr copyright Jocelyn Catterson