Wood Energy & Supply Chain

Wood fuels are available in a number of generic forms. These include wood wastes, forest residues and energy crops. Some wood fuels are processed to provide a higher quality and more user friendly product such as wood pellets and wood chips.


Specific technologies have been developed to enable wood fuels to be used in a user friendly manner while being energy efficient. Technologies include stoves and boilers for water heating in the domestic sector. Larger boilers for water heating and steam generation are available in the commercial / industrial sector alongside CHP technologies. Further information can be found in the section on technologies.

Wood fuels are available in many different forms. Some of the more common types are reviewed in this section.


Fuels and Supply chain

Wood Chips

Information is given on wood fuel quality and all aspects of the wood fuel supply chain, such as harvesting, storage, transportation, handling,  as well as aspects of health and safety. More...Wood chips come from cut wood from forestry logging residues, purpose grown energy willow or as a co-product from industrial wood processing. More...


Wood Pellets

Wood Fuel Quality and Standards

Wood pellets are made from wood shavings and sawdust and are used in highly efficient and convenient automatic wood boilers. More...Wood fuel quality is of paramount importance for the efficient and trouble free operation of wood fired heating systems. More...


Common forms of wood fuels include:

The main types of biomass resources are:

  • Wood chips
  • Wood pellets
  • Firewood logs
  • Sawdust
  • Bark
  • Raw wood wastes

Wood energy can be generated from industrial wood wastes, forest residues and energy crops.

Wood Waste
Wood wastes or by-products from wood processing industries e.g. chips, bark and sawdust. These residues are used in boardmills as feedstocks for production and within sawmills and boardmills to provide heat for drying or space heating and to produce steam for the manufacturing process. Additional residues are available from forestry and industrial processes for the generation of high quality wood fuels. High quality wood fuels such as wood chips and wood pellets can be used for domestic buildings, commercial sized buildings and to drive process heat in industry.
Forest Residues
These consist of the tree tops and branches remaining after timber is harvested. Some forest residues need to be left on the forest floor to decompose and return nutrients to the soil and also to act as brash mats, which allow machinery to travel across soft ground. However, much of this material could be harvested with suitable machinery and used as a renewable fuel for energy production.
Short Rotation Forestry (SRF)/Energy Crops

Short Rotation Forestry (SRF) / Energy Crops are grown specifically for energy purposes. Typically includes the production of wood fuel from trees with high juvenile growth, which are planted at close spacing and harvested on short rotations (typically every three years). Species such as Willow are ideal for SRF, as they are easy to establish, fast growing and suitable for a variety of sites and resistant to pests and disease. Land for short rotation forestry is likely to come from: non-rotational arable set aside land and land that is not in arable use - i.e. beef or sheep production. Changes in the agricultural sector in Ireland due to CAP reform mean that more land will become available for forestry and energy crop cultivation.

Download Short Rotation Coppice Willow Best Practice Guidelines 2010 - Teagasc and Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute of Northern Ireland



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