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Wednesday, 15 June 2016 13:08

The green wonders of the British wood burning stove industry

The trade body for the wood-burning stove industry, the Stove Industry Alliance, has committed its manufacturer members to start meeting stringent new green laws six years ahead of schedule for an industry sector that is basking in the heat of green glory.

ecostove FarringdonFrom this spring, the industry's main manufacturers 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.

The Alliance hopes this will ensure British wood-burning stoves are more environmentally friendly than they have ever been. 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 a high 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.

As well as helping to reduce household emissions, wood-burning stoves also provide a carbon neutral, sustainable heat source. In fact, recent SIA tests have shown that modern clean burning stoves reduce particulate emissions by 90% compared to an open fire and 80-84% compared to an old stove. They are a cost effective and fuel efficient option for households across the country and in particular, they help to provide a source of heating for people in rural communities who live off the gas grid.

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 electricity - wood provides an attractive alternative to gas and electricity for heating the home.

Recent statistics from Kiwa GASTEC at CRE, who include product testing in their remit, confirm that replacing a decorative gas fire with a wood burning stove will reduce the carbon footprint of a house by 22%, a figure that rises to 36% when replacing an LPG decorative gas fire with a wood burning stove. The reduction in carbon, when replacing an open fire is 14%.

ecostove goodshotEmploying over 35,000 people, the total value of the wood-burning stove sector (stoves, flues and installation) stood at £400m in 2015 and has been one of UK industry's most prominent success stories.

The sector's UK supply chain spend in the same period totalled approximately £150m and with over 90% of wood-burning stove manufacturers based in rural locations, the sector plays an important role in supporting local, regional economies. In addition, the industry contributed to €15m in exports last year, demonstrating that there is a strong demand for British made wood-burning stoves across the world.

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.

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 over 2 million tonnes per year.

Design and technology has moved forward dramatically over the past ten years too, with the introduction of controlled secondary and tertiary combustion, improved baffle arrangements, provision of outside air and improved boiler design. This has resulted in;

- higher efficiencies, now typically greater than 70%
- lower emissions, complying with DEFRA exemption for smoke control areas
- an increased percentage output to water in boiler stoves, making it possible to heat whole homes and provide hot water off the stove
- the capacity to link up technologies with other renewable energy sources

As a result, wood burning stoves are a practical way in which many householders could significantly reduce their carbon footprint, and with greater uptake encouraged, wood burning stoves offer a tangible solution to the government's need to reduce UK carbon emissions and mitigate climate change.

ecostove trainingWhen harvested from efficiently managed forests, wood logs are obtained as a natural by-product of the thinning process. This is essential to the conservation of the forest, as it ensure there is sufficient light and space for the remaining trees to thrive. On a continuous cycle, felled trees are replaced and replanted, thereby preserving the woodland for future use. Wood logs are therefore virtually carbon neutral, and as a result, woodland is being increasingly recognised as a valuable resource for sustainable fuel.

In the home, it is essential that logs are thoroughly dried before burning, though no further treatment of the wood is required. Freshly harvested wood contains a naturally high amount of water, between 65-90% depending on the species, and experts recommend that wood is seasoned for at least a year, preferably two, before use in a wood burning stove.

Consumers can dry their own wood in a wood store or buy dry and seasoned wood from their supplier. However, for immediate burning, experts recommend buying kiln dried wood. These have an average moisture content of below 25% and consequently produce 4.5 kW/h per kg, compared to wet/freshly-cut wood and semi-dried logs, which produce 1.0 kW/h per kg and 3.0 kW/h per kg respectively. Using drier wood therefore means that fewer logs can be used to produce the same heat output; preventing the waste of money, labour, transport and storage associated with using more logs, all of which reduces the carbon footprint of the stove. One of the leading companies supplying kiln dried wood, Certainly Wood, uses wood waste to fuel the kilns; making the process sustainable and environmentally friendly.

CASE STUDIES OF BRITISH WOOD STOVE MANUFACTURERS

AJ Wells and Sons, owners of Charnwood Stoves, have been operating for over 40 years and now employ over 150 people at their site in the Isle of Wight.

Their views on the EcoDesign announcement: "Charnwood are totally supportive of the new eco-design requirements as it builds on our environmental policy of local, efficient and clean manufacturing. We have been working hard to ensure all our products meet the regulation early. For the environment this mean very clean stoves which minimise emissions, for consumers this means highly efficient stove minimising fuel usage – this is genuinely and win-win scenario for all parties."

On the products they produce, they have said: "The Charnwood stove range consists of both traditional and modern wood burning stoves all designed and manufactured on the Isle of Wight using the best of British components."

ecostove FACTORYArada Stoves

Situated in the heart of the Devon countryside, Arada's purpose built factory and Global Distribution Centre has been manufacturing and distributing high quality wood burning, multi fuel and boiler stoves for more than 30 years.

Embracing the current Ecodesign changes, Arada have already manufactured a number of products which meet the European environmental standards for particulate emissions, as well as strict North American EPA standards.

Head of sales and marketing, Jon Butterworth, said: "Ecodesign offers an opportunity for manufacturers capable and willing to invest in product design.

It replaces the disparate European standards currently in use, and replaces it with a universal standard of performance and environmental measures which can be trusted.

The consumer will have the ability to compare products on a like for like basis for the first time, so they can make an informed purchasing decision.'

LINKS
Stove Industry Alliance
Stove Industry Alliance - members