Published on 13 October 2020
Corporate Energy Manager
About this good practice
The cost of creating biomass to generate heat and power can be expensive when you include the labour and machinery if not done at scale. Also, there is a substantial amount of under used, small areas of woodland in very rural areas that could supply biomass if a cost effective way could be found. Dartmoor Woodfuel co-operative was set up as an Industrial Provident Society in 2009 by a group of like-minded Dartmoor residents, each of who share a common interest in the environment and reducing the carbon footprint of their lifestyles on Dartmoor. Their intention is to unlock the potential of the small woodland resource available locally, thus reducing the transportation of bio-energy within the region and improving the bio-diversity of these woods. DWC provides knowledge, contractor, machinery and storage facilities to its members, The cooperative aims to 1) encourage local boiler installations and woodland owners to collaborate, 2) reduce carbon emissions by using sustainably managed woodlands and improving their bio-diversity and 3) develop public awareness of renewable energy and encourage eco-tourism around Dartmoor. Members forward pay for 2 years of fuel based on £50 per kW. Over the period this investment is paid back through the supply of biomass. DWC now has 30 members, all with boilers and has just turned a profit with a turnover of £300,000. Members are home owners, schools and elderly care facilities. They're storing 7,500 m3 of wood chip and 2,000 tonnes of timber.
DWC had grants from European Regional Development Fund and Rural Development Programme for England and Forestry Commission. A board provides overall management and direction with a team of five people managing it on a day to day basis. DWC then uses three sub-contractors to produce the biomass.
Evidence of success
DWC is facilitating increased use of biomass and supplying them with locally grown fuel with is resulting in carbon emission reduction and supporting the local economy. The cooperative has over 30 members and employs three sub-contractors.
Potential for learning or transfer
Using biomass to produce heat and power has the potential to reduce carbon emission in appropriate areas. Rural locations with a potential supply of locally grown biomass is a perfect location. As soon as you need to transport biomass great distances the sustainability benefits reduce. Biomass manufacture can also provide important rural jobs and by having this run a cooperative the economic benefits are kept within the locality driving further monetary benefits. Biomass is not as easy a source of heat and power than conventional fuels. The Dartmoor Woodfuel Cooperative also provides an important support service, helping people to make sure their systems are running properly. This knowledge set is invaluable and particularly in rural locations with low population density. By managing woodlands this increases biodiversity and further reduces carbon emissions. The Dartmoor Woodfuel Cooperative brings woodlands back into management through a network of trusted, local practitioners.