Wood chip is stored under cover to keep it dry

TV Bioenergy’s 2005 Ashden Award recognised the work it had done to establish a wood fuel economy in the Thames Valley.

Even though the UK is densely populated, it has a significant potential resource of wood for energy. This includes residues from both tree surgery and forestry management, as well as purpose-grown wood. The challenge is to build up supply and demand simlutaneiously. TV Bioenergy was set up to establish a viable wood fuel market in the Thames Valley region.

Growing coppice has given us an excellent opportunity for diversification.

Oxfordshire farmer

Parks, tree surgeons and dedicated wood suppliers produce tonnes of wood in the UK each year. And wood is a potential resource of low-carbon energy. The challenge is to establish a market that works for the suppliers and users alike.

Thames Valley Bioenergy (TV Bioenergy) a trading subsidiary of the renewable energy agency Thames Valley Energy, trades in fuelwood in Southern England. By buying from suppliers it guarantees them a market for their wood. A tree station has been set up where woodchip and wood can be delivered, processed, dried, stored and then sold to users. Those users include Slough Heat and Power, a combined-heat-and-power generator, as well as twenty woodchip boiler systems locally. 

Previously wood from parks and tree surgeons was often sent to landfill sites: such a waste when it could be used to replace the oil and coal burnt in boilers and power stations. In addition, with the help of a government grant, TVBioenergy has also helped local farmers to establish 200 hectares of short rotation coppice woodland, so further strengthening the supply. A second tree station is under development.

By 2009 woodchip sales were about 6,200 tonnes per year, and TV Bioenergy calculates that over 7,200 tonnes/year CO2 is saved by their supply. And bigger plans are afoot, with a proposed small community-based heating scheme based on woodchip boilers. A self-sustaining market is well and truly established.

  • TV Bioenergy trades in fuelwood, buying wood from suppliers, processing it, and selling to users. 
  • Increases wood supply by supporting the return of woodland into regular management. 
  • With DEFRA funding has also helped eight local farmers establish 100 ha of short rotation coppice plantation, for which it pays a guaranteed price per tonne. 
  • Has set up a ‘tree station’ where woodchip and wood can be delivered, processed, dried, stored and then sold to users. 
  • TV Bioenergy supplies woodchip to over ten woodchip boiler systems (50-200 kW). Also supplies to Slough Heat and Power, a combined-heat-and-power generator. Total woodchip sales in 2005 were about 6200 tonnes/year.
  • The use of wood directly replaces fossil energy, mainly oil (in boilers) and coal (in CHP), and thus reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Supply in 2005 reduced emissions by about 7200 tonnes/year CO2
  • Using waste wood for fuel prevents it from going to landfill or being illegally dumped.  
  • Developing biomass market creates secure local jobs for growing, processing and delivering the fuel, supporting the local economy.