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Govt support for greater use of wood fuel to replace coal

9 May 2014


Supply of wood fuel in Southland will stimulate demand

The announcement by Simon Bridges, the Minister of Energy and Resources that the Government will contribute $1.5 million to improving the supply and use of wood fuel in Southland is a good signal that the Government is recognising the employment, economic and energy supply benefits from using wood instead of coal as a fuel for heating.,” said the Chair of the Bioenergy Association today.

The Minister made his announcement at the Bioenergy Association conference in Rotorua on “Successful Installation and Operation of Wood Fuelled Heat Plant”.

The Minister announced that The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) will work with Southland to develop a wood fuel supply hub and to facilitate the relationship between the supply and demand for wood fuel in the region.

Speaking today, Mr Rob Mallinson, Chair of the Bioenergy Association of New Zealand (BANZ) said “there really is no better time to be considering the use of forest harvest and wood processing residues as a fuel for hospitals, institutional and industrial heat applications. The Government should be congratulated for their recognition that we can get additional value from wood. Currently approximately 10-15% of wood is wasted and this is an economic loss to the country, as well as lost revenue to forestry and wood processing companies.

Mr Mallinson said that “Whilst it was good to see the support for the growth in the use of wood fuel in his speech to the conference, there needs to be a greater recognition across Government agencies that by not using wood residues for the heating of hospitals, schools and say our prisons, that we are not maximising the opportunities for employment, regional economic growth and environmental benefits. It is hoped that the funding announced by the Minister will encourage local and central government to consider converting existing coal plant to be fuelled by wood.”

“The Association has a vision that 25% of our energy supply can come from biomass and municipal organic waste by 2040. It is good to see that Auckland Council has adopted a similar vision and it is hoped that the Government’s initiative will assist other territorial authorities to do the same.”

“Analysis by BERL has shown that implementation of the Strategy could contribute an additional $6 billion to the New Zealand economy.”

“Wood fuel can supply the full range of commercial heat requirements, from relatively small heat users such as hotels, right up to the largest users such as meat and dairy processors.”

“With the amount of sustainable forestry resources and wood residue streams generated all over the country, wood fuel is a very viable and low cost alternative. It also creates local jobs and is carbon neutral, so is a good long term financial decision, a good risk management decision and a good initiative for the local community.”

Mr Mallinson said that "In the longer term the available wood resource can also provide gas and transport fuel. The New Zealand Bioenergy Strategy has identified that by 2040 30% of our transport fuel could be coming from biofuels. Economic growth and security of energy supply from bioenergy go hand in hand.”

Notes to Editors

The Bioenergy Association of New Zealand (BANZ) - BANZ was established in 2001 to promote and coordinate the development of a bioenergy industry in New Zealand. BANZ provides a central focus point for liaison with Government agencies, the dissemination of information amongst the industry and long-term positioning of bioenergy into New Zealand's energy system. Members include anyone with a commercial interest in bioenergy - sawmillers, wood processors, energy suppliers, energy researchers, consultants, manufacturers and investors.

For more information on wood fuel refer to UseWoodFuelNZ

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