Wood Energy Strategy

Name

Wood Energy Strategy and Wood Energy Task Group – Energising the West Midlands for the 21st Century

Organisations

Advantage West Midlands, Forestry Commission, Countryside Agency, Government Office for West Midlands.

Summary

The West Midlands Wood Energy Strategy sets out the West Midlands vision for wood energy and a strategy for action. The co-ordination for delivery of this strategy was actioned through the Wood Energy Task Group (WETG) which initially comprised of the original partners but extended to a wide network of policy makers and planners, installer and supply companies and woodland owners and managers.

The WETG operated as an information sharing network which met two to three times a year to share best practice and promote the role and benefits of using wood for energy in the West Midlands, chaired by a Woodfuel Champion.

The aims

  • To promote the role and benefits of using wood as a fuel.
  • To promote an increase in demand for woodfuel by encouraging more installations.
  • To develop a robust regional supply chain.
  • To co-ordinate delivery of the strategy.

The challenges

  • Bringing a focus and co-ordination across a range of organisations with very different aspirations.
  • Working with a rural business sector that is traditionally resistant to change and cautious with new business opportunities, particularly where the demand has been slow to become realised.

The solutions

  • Formed and operated a key network called the Wood Energy Task Group.
  • Made excellent connections with key partners working in the same area e.g. BioenergyWM, Rural Hubs, Confor, the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).
  • Promoted the opportunities for woodfuel around key networks.
  • Responded to key Government consultations e.g. Biomass Task Force report on behalf of the region.

 

The results

  • Significantly higher awareness of role and benefits of using wood for fuel.
  • Helped support focus on demand led growth (via boiler installations) through involvement in key studies (e.g. Community Energy District Heating report) and advocating for regional capital grants (e.g. Heartwoods, Grow With Wyre, RE:think Energy and RDPE).
  • Helped instigate the acceleration of robust supply chain through projects such as, Wyre Woodfuel Pathfinder and Heartwoods. Also a suppliers’ list was put together by the Forestry Commission with the support of BioenergyWM as a means of providing info on who provided what product/service relating to woodfuel in the region.

Learning points

What worked well:

  • Inter-agency collaboration in producing the initial strategy and action plan.
  • Successful early implementation in Rural Regeneration Zone through Heartwoods 1 project (2002-05).

What they would change:

  • Successfully extending the Heartwoods 1 project across the region at an earlier stage.

SWM comment

We like that this project is taking important steps to increase the use of wood as a fuel by raising awareness of the benefits and improving the supply chains.

Contact

For more information please visit the Growing Our Future website or contact Simon West simon.west@forestry.gsi.gov.uk. A list of regional suppliers and other technical information is available from the Biomass Energy Centre website.