Types of Fuel & Fuel Procurement

Possibly more than any other technology, the fuel used on a biomass system can affect efficiency, longevity and the environment. Vital Energi have a long-standing history of helping our clients with biomass fuel procurement and this service encompasses advice and guidance through to a complete procurement service which absorbs much of the clients’ risk.

Procuring Fuel & Fuel Types

The size of the system is a large factor in procurement. Some schemes are able to run based on wind fall from local landowners or the by-products of businesses e.g. wood manufacturing, waste recycling and local tree surgeons etc. Larger schemes can require multiple 40 tonne truck deliveries per day, which calls for a much more detailed procurement strategy.

There are a number of issues which impact on a scheme’s success and some a few of these are listed below:

  • Fuel Types – Vital Energi can advise on the cost, availability and reliability of a range of fuel types and have experience choosing the right one for your scheme:
    • Virgin Wood – (Wood chip & wood pellet)
    • Recycled Wood
    • Energy Crops
    • Agricultural Residues
    • Industrial Waste
  • Quality – Poor quality biomass will reduce both the environmental and financial efficiency of the system. The main areas of concern are contamination, the size of the wood chip and the amount of bark included. Each of these factors can have a substantial effect on overall performance.
  • Moisture Content – This can have a huge impact on the efficiency of a system as moisture contributes to the weight of the product when it is purchased, but when burned, does not contribute to efficiency. On a recent installation we saw that reducing the moisture content of the woodchip by 8% generated almost 40 tonnes of additional CO2 savings each year.
  • Storage – Biomass material can decompose, take on more moisture and become contaminated. Correct storage is as important as any other consideration when it comes to fuel procurement as even the best quality fuel can become compromised if this essential step of the process is mishandled. Similarly, there can be safety issues with biomass storage and Vital Energi ensure that all designs are compliant with The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR).
  • Location – One of the reasons for the success of biomass in areas such as Scotland, as opposed to large cities like London, is the proximity to biomass material and forestry in particular. The transport of biomass generates CO2 and this reduces the overall carbon savings. It is regarded as good practice to procure biomass from within a 50 mile radius where possible.