There’s an old saying that goes ‘to guess is cheap, to guess wrong is expensive’; this applies to many things in life and none more so than wood pellets. While we all know if we look for the cheapest product we can find them and make savings and sometimes the guess works well. Then there are other decisions that don’t go quite as hoped and the saving we made disappears like snow in summer in the form of larger bills.
The great thing about wood pellets is that you don’t have to guess about the quality or performance of them if you understand the important bits of information to check.
One of the most important checks to make, especially if you are claiming RHI, is that the fuel you choose is on the Biomass Suppliers List, in order to remain RHI compliant. The list can be checked at http://biomass-suppliers-list.service.gov.uk/find-a-fuel.
There are also a number of quality standards that offer reassurance of a consistent quality and sustainable use of wood stocks.
The EN Plus Certificate is a European-wide quality standard for wood pellets. This standard guarantees that the pellets are compliant with the ISO 17225-2 standard for pellets and in some cases the ENplus requirements exceed the requirements of the standard. The whole production chain is covered by the certification scheme, guaranteeing the pellets quality from the factory to the end customer’s gate. It is effective because it provides tools for the implementation of a comprehensive quality management system in the certified companies. The quality management system as well as the pellet quality are controlled periodically by independent institutions. http://www.enplus-pellets.eu/
In order to be comfortable that the pellets you have purchased have been made from a sustainable source of timber, look for the reference to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The FSC is an international, non-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting responsible management of the world’s forests. It runs a global forest certification system with two key components: Forest Management and Chain of Custody certification. This system allows consumers to identify, purchase and use timber and forest products produced from well-managed forests and to know that the timber you have burnt has already been replaced. http://www.fsc-uk.org/en-uk.
We then come to understanding the fuel value of pellets by comparing the calorific value (CV). Effectively this is how much ‘bang for your buck’ you get; the higher the value, the more useable heat per tonne/bag you get out of the pellets. This figure can often be found on the product details or by calling the supplier – it is always worth checking and comparing as this is where guessing could become expensive!
As is so often the case in life, the old adages are the best, so ‘buyer beware’ and if it’s too good to be true, it probably is, so rather than presuming, hoping and guessing – check!
By Hugh Montgomery Blog – 28th January 2016