Last week, I attended the Wood Heat Association’s annual conference, which this year was held at the base of Box Hill in Surrey.
This event is an important part of the association’s calendar, as it provides a time to reflect on the state of the industry and changes in the last 12 months, as well as looking to the future challenges we will have to address. In the words of the conference strapline, it is also about ’sharing good practice’ to help ensure that, as an industry, we provide good quality installations, advice and support to clients with biomass systems.
Tuesday morning’s talks focussed on the performance of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), learning lessons from industry and how suited we are to make use of quality systems from European countries with more experience of biomass installations. These sessions were quite challenging, hearing home truths about our failings and how we should avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
Thankfully, Tuesday afternoon was more upbeat with updates from the National Trust about their biomass installation programme and fuel availability talks from the Forestry Commission, Biomass Suppliers List and the Sustainable Fuel Register. The day concluded with a highly insightful commentary on the downfall of the Northern Ireland RHI and the status of the enquiry from Andrew Trimble of the Renewable Heat Association of Northern Ireland.
Day two (Wednesday) started with some crystal ball gazing on what the future holds for RHI and biomass heating in general. Whilst we are all in some agreement that the future of RHI for supporting new installations beyond 2020 is unlikely, biomass has a large role to play in decarbonising UK heat.
The final sessions of the conference looked at the opportunities for using biomass ash, an update on the use of waste wood within the context of the RHI and another informative piece from Gary Fuller of Kings College on the air quality we can expect from biomass systems.
In all, the conference was well attended and encapsulated the challenges and opportunities for the biomass heating industry. For more details see the Wood Heat Association pages at http://www.woodheatassociation.org.uk/.