Woodchip boom in cold weather

It certainly has been a busy winter in the wood chip fuel sector. The cold weather has ensured a constant demand which has been good for business. The weather and the difficultly of timber extraction  has contributed to an increase price in the raw material. In some cases there have been significant price rises for round wood and sawmill log. There is no doubt going to be price rises of the end product to reflect this. This will be done over the summer months in a controlled considered manner.

Now compare this to the oil heating sector which hikes the price up with the first sniff from Jack Frost. I do hope our sector doesn’t take on this unsavory market practice  – I may be just old school. Our customers are very loyal and honest people and we have been on a journey together in the new world of biomass heating. This loyalty is also reflected in our wood chip supplier Charltons Sawmill who despite tough market conditions have always continued to support us and we are a good team.

Spring is coming and demand will reduce so it will be a time to reflect what we have done well and learn from mistakes. We are still on a learning curve and one area that the market needs to address is how woodchip is sold. Is it by the cube (M3) or the tonne. We have traditionally sold it by the tonne as we believe this is the fairest way however an alarming disconnect is becoming clearly apparent:

‘The more the customer pays the worst the quality’

As a seller we are looking to sell woodchip at 28% moisture content however sometimes we don’t get our drying times right and therefore the fuel might be wetter. This means it is heavier and we get paid more per tonne. If the woodchip is dryer the customer pays less and as lower moisture content they get more wood than water. Our partners at Edge Renewables charge by tonne by moisture content so if there is a dryer fuel the price reflects this – this is fair!

Selling by the M3 can leave the customer feeling short changed. A lorry is loaded and can be full at a loading depot and after a few miles, a bends and a few pot holes the woodhip settles and can be 2/3 from the top. Open the back doors of the delivery  truck and the customer might be a bit cheesed off.

Selling on the meter per kWh is the best way however some boilers do not operate efficiently and therefore this is not always accurate and is then not fair.

Solution  – woodchip to be sold by moisture content and therefore expensive moisture monitoring kit is the solution.

Have a great week and another Beast from the East is on its way!



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