Wood was humankind’s first fuel source. For many years, wood has been consumed by millions of individuals for multi-purposes. This is not restricted to construction, furniture, paper and firewood.
Firewood is a permeable tissue created from stems and roots of treesand it is generally not highly processed but requires splitting, which is done manually with a splitting maul, chain sawand more effectively with thehydraulic splitting machine.
The log is usually marked and cut into pieces of about 16 inches (41 cm) long, which is an ideal length for most fireplaces and woodstoves. A typical long length is measured in about 4'x8'x16" inches and stack in a face log of about 42.6 cubic feet.
Firewood was traditionally used for cooking and heating, and occasionally for fueling steam engines and steam turbines that generate electricity. It is also used indoors in a furnace, stove, or fireplace, or outdoors in a furnace, campfire, or bonfire.
The use of firewood took a nose dive in both developed and developing countries due to the evolution of modern and convenient fuels.
However, latest price increases in gas, alternative fuels, and electricity have generated a renewed interest in wood as an energy source for home heating and cooking. This has kept firewood still relevant in many countries including the United Kingdom.
There are over 30 types of firewood.7 most common types includes the Oak which can be found pretty much anywhere, Maple, Cherry, Birch, Pine, Elm, Chestnut.
Some of the good burning firewood with excellent qualities are Alder, Apple, Sycamore, Walnut, Oak, Pine and Birch. Willow, Yew, Lime, Chestnut, Douglas Fir and Laburnum firewoodexhibit fair to poor qualities. Users are generally advised to avoid using Laburnum which is poisonous.
A 2016 government surveyfound that 7.5% of UK homes burned wood making up 30% of UK particle emissions. In London, one out of twelve homes burn wood, but this accounts for more than a quarter of the particle pollution produced in the capital.
Nonetheless, firewood is a vital focus of the UK government’s energy policy. The government have set a target to achieve 15% of all energy from renewables by 2020. In its National Renewable Energy Action Plan, the government sets out plans to bring an additional 2 million tonnes of wood fuel into energy markets in England. At current bulk cordwood prices this would generate an additional £100m of revenue to the market and many times that figure when processed as firewood, kindling or woodchip according to Fuelwood.
The United Kingdom is one of the biggest importer of wood pellets. According to the Timber Trade Federation, the UK produced firewood constituting about 36% of the total volume traded in the UK market in 2015, increasing from 28% in 2007 but down from 38% in 2014. The huge drop was blamed largely on the exchange rates making imported timber more price economical with British log.
In 2016, import value of round wood, wood charcoal, chips, particles, residues and wood pellets grew significantly by approximately 11% from 2.179 trillion pounds to 2.414 trillion pounds in imports.
The Forestry Commission of the UK published a report showing that 1.5 million tonnes of softwood were produced in the UK in 2016 and 400,000 tonnes of hardwood totaling 1.95 million tonnes of firewood the whole of the year.
Some of the top producers of firewood in the UK include Four Seasons Fuel Ltd, The Real Firewood Company, Surefirewood and Fuelwood. Four Seasons Fuel alone produces about 3,500 tonnes logs annually.
The aggregate export value of round wood, wood charcoal, chips, particles, residues and wood pellets on the other hand showed a slow growth of less than one percent from 80 to 81 million pounds. With a forest area of 3 .17 million hectares in the UK, there are still an untapped woodlands.
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