I have a few questions on Biomass.....

I’m looking at a biomass boiler’s fuel supplier options and I’ve noticed a few things about the industry. Many suppliers appear to be small with a few exceptions and largely the supply is fragmented in all areas of woodchips, pellets, logs or biomass generally. A question I’d also like to raise is should we be using hardwoods rather than softwoods? My head tells me softwood sustainable forestry would work best here.

Another main concern of mine is delivery distance of the fuel supply, also the origination of the fuel supply is a major factor. I’ve heard various numbers discussed with reference to delivery distance, namely that if the biomass deliveries are more than 25 miles than it becomes uneconomical and the carbon footprint begins to take its toll on the whole process. Are there any good quality research papers or studies out there that prove contrary to this? Currently 25 miles is purely a figure I’ve heard but not seen communicated in anything official.

Secondly is the issue of transfer to the boiler. If you arrive at the situation were your biomass store and biomass boiler are not situated directly next to each other is this still a viable energy solution? Many of the largest and best boiler manufactures stipulate that the store and boiler must be close due to the nature of augers (transport mechanism). I have encountered one solution that can transport biomass to the boiler upto 20meters away through suction but this obviously requires electricity, hence increasing the carbon output once more. Does anyone out there have experience using delivery mechanisms such as these? And how does their efficiency rate?

There are so many complex issues on this topic and as the UK moves towards a low carbon economy answers to questions such as these need a definitive answer. With all the problems with the gas supply approaching and energy security within the country, biomass will enable many businesses and home owners to have a warm feeling (from the biomass) when it comes to their future energy solution.