Westward Independent

Scottish Report Reveals Low CO2 Emissions of Wood-Burning Stoves

by Westward Independent
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The Scottish government’s own report, published in 2021, sheds light on the environmental impact of wood-burning stoves compared to other heating technologies.

Commissioned by the Scottish Forestry quango and conducted by green consultants re: heat, the report challenges the notion that wood-burning stoves are environmentally harmful. In fact, it reveals that wood fuels, particularly local logs, emit significantly lower levels of CO2 compared to both fossil fuel boilers and renewable technologies like ground source heat pumps, solar power, and wind turbines.

The data presented in the report underscores the carbon-saving potential of wood fuels. Local logs, for example, emit just 4 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour of energy, making them one of the cleanest fuel sources available. This finding is particularly relevant for rural areas of Scotland, where many households rely on wood-burning stoves for heating, especially in regions prone to power cuts.

Contrary to the Scottish government’s plan to ban “direct emissions heating systems” in new-build homes and extensions, the report highlights the importance of wood-burning stoves as a sustainable heating option. It argues that wood fuel not only delivers carbon savings compared to fossil fuels but also outperforms most other forms of renewable energy in terms of carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the report challenges the perception that wood fuel is unsustainable by emphasizing the UK’s favourable conditions for tree growth. With mild winters, ample rainfall, fertile soil, and hill-sheltered topography, the UK offers ideal conditions for growing trees. This allows for sustainable forestry practices, where trees can be harvested and replanted to maintain a continuous supply of wood fuel.

The review also provides insights into the prevalence of wood-burning stoves in Scotland, estimating that around 117,000 homes use wood fuel for heating. Closed stoves, commonly known as wood burners, and open fires are the most popular heating systems, collectively burning approximately 400,000 green tonnes of wood annually. Additionally, there are around 3,200 wood fuel boilers in commercial properties, including whisky distilleries, further highlighting the widespread adoption of wood fuel as a heating source.

In terms of CO2 emissions, the report ranks wood fuel options, with local logs at the forefront, followed by local wood pellets and imported wood pellets. Even imported wood pellets emit less CO2 than ground-source heat pumps, a renewable technology favoured by some policymakers.

Overall, the findings of the report challenge prevailing assumptions about the environmental impact of wood-burning stoves. By providing empirical evidence of their low CO2 emissions and highlighting their sustainability, the report shows the importance of wood fuel as a viable and environmentally friendly heating option, particularly in rural areas where alternative energy sources may be less reliable or accessible.

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