Assessing Biomass Feasibility

Wood Fuel Supply Chain Options

Potential Supply

Sources of wood fuel include short round wood logs, wood chips and wood pellets. To decide which wood fuel would be best to utilise in Barony College a quick price comparison of fuels was made.

Below is a comparison of prices of conventional fuels and wood chips and pellets. Short round wood was not included in this comparison, since it cannot be utilised in automated systems, but they are cheaper than wood chips to buy.

Graph 1: Comparative Heating Cost of Fuel 4

This graph shows that wood chips and wood pellets are able to economically compete with conventional fuel. Although wood pellets are economical when compared to conventional fuel, in a large scale biomass system, such as the one to be used in Barony College (350kWh), wood chips work out much cheaper to use. In addition there are currently no suppliers of wood pellets operating in Scotland on the scale required by Barony College. Although Balcas Ltd. (a Northern Irish Supplier) is proposing an Invergordon Based depot, this will introduce prohibitive environmental and financial transport costs.

When considering a fuel supply for Barony College, supply in Scotland and in particular, Dumfries and Galloway was considered. Below is a table of woodland coverage in Scotland, measured in thousands of hectares.

  Conifers (Softwood) Broadleaves (Hardwood) Total
Forestry Commission
Non Forestry Commission

Table 1: Woodland Coverage in Scotland 2.

Around 17% 3 of Scotland’s land is covered in forestry and from the table it can be seen that about 35% of this forestry cover is owned by the Forestry Commission and around 65% is privately owned. Presently, there is a lot of work being carried out by the Forestry Commission and the Scottish Executive to encourage the growth of biomass in Scotland, which looks set to become a very popular fuel source for the production of heat and power. Therefore, these figures are encouraging when considering sourcing wood fuel in Scotland.

Currently there is limited supply of wood fuel in the Dumfries and Galloway area. However, this looks set to change within the next few years with one of the driving factors behind biomass, in the Dumfries and Galloway area, being E-ON, an energy company that generates and distributes electricity. E-ON are building a 44MWe power station dedicated to biomass (wood fuel in particular) in Lockerbie, they therefore need a supply chain up and running by the time the plant hopes to enter commercial operation in October 2007.

Although E-ON will have its own dedicated supply chain there should not be a problem with any excess fuel generated being sold to the public. This initial supply chain for E-ON will stimulate the market in the Dumfries and Galloway area and wood fuel will become more widely accepted, this in turn will also enable the skills base to grow and stimulate employment in the industry.

This has already started to happen in the area and there have been applications for grants offered by the Scottish Biomass Support Scheme (SBSS), by potential suppliers (who can not be named at present, due to confidentiality acts). Therefore, there should be a supply chain developing in Dumfries and Galloway shortly (within the next two years1).

There are three supply options available to Barony College for obtaining wood fuel. These are:
Contract Locally
Energy Service Company
Self Supply

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Supply Option 1- Contract Locally

This option would require Barony College to purchase their wood fuel from local suppliers, such as forestry owners and contractors, saw mills, fuel merchants or fuel supply co-operatives.

The Forestry Commission is a good place for Barony College to source their wood fuel. However, there are also opportunities for Barony College to obtain this from private forestry owners, of which they have links with presently, and also from specific wood chip suppliers. The Logpile Website and Renewable Energy Association give a comprehensive list of wood fuel suppliers in all areas of the UK and Table 2 shows those located in the Dumfries and Galloway area.

Supplier Name
Contact Details
Fuel Type
Trevor Blackburn
Forestry Comission Scotland
Bothwell House
Hamilton Business Park
56.8 miles
T: 01698 368530

M: 07747 887907


David Neill
David Neill Foresty
2 Holding
ML11 9UW
49.1 miles
T: 01555 660329


(seasoned hardwood)
Pat Hunter Blair
KA19 7LZ
68.3 miles
T: 01665 770239

F: 01665 770239



Just starting out in Chips- small scale for now.

Joe Kilmartin
Bullwood Project
c/o Bullwood Drive
G53 7NW
75.7 miles
T: 0141 8835433



Don’t supply Chips at the moment.

Very expensive at the moment to make pellets.

George Cruden
Elderslie Estates
Waterlea Farm
Kilmacolm Road
85.1 miles
T: 01505 612124

F: 01505 613304


Joseph Bisland
Tracey Timber Recycling Ltd
49 Burnbrae Road
60 miles
T: 01505 333515


Gavin Marshall
Treeline Woodlands Ltd
West Linton
EH46 7HL
56.7 miles
T: 01968 660698

F: 01968 660525





Table 2: List of Wood Fuel Suppliers near Barony College.

The Dumfries and Galloway area is also an ideal place to promote wood fuel as there are many sawmills in the area, which could be potential suppliers of wood chips. Table 3 shows sawmills and their contact details.

A&G King Timber Ltd

Hoddom & Kinmount Estates
Hitchell Sawmill, Cummertrees, Annan, Dumfriesshire DG12 5PT

James Kingan & Sons Ltd
Townhead Sawmill, New Abbey, Dumfries, Dumfriesshire DG2 8DU
16.5 miles

Oakrigg Sawmill
Old Carlisle Rd, Moffat, Dumfriesshire DG10 9QJ
14.2 miles

Travelling Sawmill
Rammerscales House, Hightae, Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire DG11 1LD

Carronbridge Sawmills Ltd
Carronfoot, Carronbridge, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire DG3 5AY
24.3 miles

Canonbie Sawmill
Byreburnfoot, Canonbie, Dumfriesshire DG14 0XB
41.2 miles

Howie Forest Products Ltd
Kenmuir Sawmill, Dalbeattie, Kirkcudbrightshire DG5 4PL
21.3 miles

Carruthers Timber
Mein Bridge, Ecclefechan, Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire DG11 3LG
22.6 miles

Forrest Estate
Dalry, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire DG7 3XS
45.9 miles

A & G King Timber Ltd
Terregles Sawmill, Terregles, Dumfries, Dumfriesshire DG2 9RU
12.8 miles

Jim Peden Woodcutter
37, Beeches Avenue, Cargenbridge, Dumfries, Dumfriesshire DG2 8LD
11.2 miles

Tonglands Sawmill
Tongland Farm, Culdoach Rd, Tongland, Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire DG6 4LU
35.6 miles

Kerr Timber Products Ltd
Hecklegirth Works, Annan, Dumfriesshire DG12 6SN
24.9 miles

Creca Sawmills
Creca, Annan, Dumfriesshire DG12 6RP
26.9 miles

Buccleuch Energy Group
Head Office, Weatherhouse, Bowhill, Selkirk, TD7 5ES
44.9 miles

Dumfries and Galloway Map

Source: D & G Online

(Clear circles show location of sawmills.)

Table 3: List and map of sawmills in Dumfries and Galloway area.

The Scottish Forest Industries Cluster also plays a large role in Dumfries and Galloway supporting Scottish Biomass and the Confederation of Forest Industries (UK), CONFOR, are also strong advocates for wood biomass in the area, holding many workshops and providing information for potential suppliers and end users.

Our calculations show that at 30% moisture content 244 tonnes of woodchips would need to be sourced to satisfy the demand of a sixth month heating season. This calculates to 1.34 tonnes per day from October to March. Taking the assumption that a 7.5 tonne lorry, with 30m3 storage volume, is utilised to make deliveries this equates to one delivery every ten days. Therefore with a safety margin of 10 days fuel set aside for supply disruption 60m3 of fuel storage is required.

The table below highlights potential annual costs of this supply option:-

Scenario 1: Woodchips Purchased:

Transport £ 3,850.00
Cost Chips £ 13,566.91
Total £ 17,416.91

The basis for cost and quantity calculations is shown in the financial analysis section.

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Supply Option 2- Energy Service Companies (ESCo’s)

Another option, popular in Europe but still growing in the UK, would be to obtain wood fuel from an Energy Service Company. In this case the customer is billed, at an agreed price, for heat supplied rather than fuel supplied. The Energy Service Company usually operates and maintains the boiler and can either own the boiler or lease it from another company. It is therefore the ESCo’s responsibility for ensuring heat is supplied on demand and it is the ESCo is able to choose the fuel source it feels most suitable for the boiler. The advantage of buying heat and other services from an ESCo is the little input that the final user needs to have with the installed biomass system, thus negating any worry about maintenance and fuel supply that a biomass boiler may pose. The time period of a contract can be seen as a disadvantage when buying services through an ESCo as the tarrif may not stay competitive. Also there is a restricted choice of ESCo’s currently in Scotland.
Table 4 shows a list of energy service companies in the UK.
Some of these companies offer a range of services from feasibility studies to installation. For example, Ecoenergy Ltd, ‘co-ordinates servicing and maintenance of the boilers, and wood-chip supply.’5

Name Address Contact
Highland Wood Energy Unit 2 : Old Mart Ind. Estate : Corpach : Fort William : PH33 7NN t: 01397 773 000
3GEnergi 3 The Knowes, Kelso TD5 7BH Tel: 01573 229198
Wood Energy Ltd Pinkworthy Barn
EX16 9EU
Tel: +44 (0) 1398 351349
Fax: +44 (0) 1398 351115
Ecoenergy Ltd Unit 12
St. George's Tower
Hatley St. George
SG19 3SH
T: 0870 0545 554
F: 0870 0545 553
Buccleuch BioEnergy Ltd The Computer House
EH22 2NA
e-maill :
Tel : 0131 561 5000
Fax : 0131 5615001
Perthshire Biofuels Perthshire Biofuels

Table 4: List of Energy Service Companies in the UK.

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Supply Option 3- Self Supply

The third option available to Barony College would be to buy in green small round wood from local forestry sources. This small round wood can then be stored on the premises to air dry, and would give Barony College the chance to teach students the processes involved in producing wood chips, such as drying techniques and chipping techniques, which is possible as the college does own its own chipping machine, as well as contribute to a definitive guide of drying methods within the UK.

This option does have the disadvantage of needing two fuel stores, one for the round wood and one for the chips once ready for combustion. In addition the drying period can range from a year to a year and a half which alongside the time required to gain the necessary fuel processing skills could mean this is more of a long term supply option. However, it does offer a cheaper alternative to buying in chips as well as having educational advantages, and can be a possibility in the future after the initial system has been installed.

It has already been stated that at 30% moisture content 244 tonnes of woodchips will be required. For this supply option this equates to purchasing 325 green tonnes. These can be obtained at approximately £18.50/tonne (including transport, Forestry Commission).

Scenario 3: Green Roundwood:

Cost Green Roundwood £ 6,012.50
Chipping Costs £ 2,540.00
Summer Oil Costs £ 1,581.00
Total £ 10,133.50

The basis for these cost calculations are found in the financial analysis section..

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Both wood fuel and anaerobic digestion are potential biomass fuel sources for Barony Collage. At this stage woodchips seem the most promising fuel source. The strong support for wood as a biomass fuel type in the Dumfries and Galloway area makes the supply look promising for the future, thus reducing the risks of fuel shortages.

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• Use woodchips as a fuel source.
• Of the three supply options we initially recommend contracting fuel locally. At 30% moisture content it is anticipated that 244 tonnes of woodchip will be required to satisfy demand. This results in a likely fuel store size of 60m^3.
• Purchasing green small round wood to chip onsite can be developed as a more long term option as it is potentially cheaper and offers educational benefits.
• If local sources are not ready immediately, Buccleuch Energy is already established as a supplier of wood fuel and is 50 miles away.

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  1. Margaret Watson.
  2. Forestry Facts and Figures 2006
  3. Trevor Blackburn & Wikepedia (Land area of Scotland = 7877200 hectares)
  4. Wood Energy Ltd.

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Forestry Facts and Figures 2006. A Summery of Statistics about Woodland and Forestry. Economics and Statistics Forestry Commission. Crown 2006, ISBN 0 85538 706 8

Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Executive 2007, RR Donnelley. Biomass Action Plan for Scotland. Crown 2007.ISBN 978 0 7559 6506 9.

Biomass Energy Centre

Nottingham Energy Partnership

Forestry facts and figures for the UK can be found at the Forestry Commission website.

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Clarify Standpoint of Organisation
Quantify Demand Requirements
Assess Potential Biomass Supply within Local Area
Match Demand & Fuel Supply to Available/Suitable Technologies
Check Relevant Legislation
Apply for Funding