It now seems the boom in the UK biomass fuel market may even impact on our cats’ toilet habits. They’re currently pampered with wood ‘eco-pellet’ litter. But it’s been predicted that competition for wood fibre from the fuel sector could be set to increase prices for wood and paper-based animal products. OK, not such a big deal for us, but the livestock sector could find the cost hike for bedding seriously denting profits.

As has already been stated in the TTJ, this aspect of the so-called “rush to renewables” also looks likely to have a growing effect in the timber sector.

On the downside, some in the industry fear that demand for fibre from a wood energy sector underpinned by Renewables Obligation subsidies, will also lead to significant raw materials inflation for them. Panel product manufacturers are especially concerned and pressing for a green energy grant shake-up to level the playing field.

More positively, rising wood fuel demand is forecast to lead to more timber being grown and an end to the UK’s waste of millions of tonnes of wood to landfill. Initially commercial incentive is expected to cut volumes being dumped, but to boost fuel supply Defra is also evaluating a timber landfill ban, something backed by both Wood Panel Industries and Timber Trade Federations.

Some also see new opportunities opening up for timber processors to sell their ‘waste’, either individually or via local consortia. And the British Wood Working Federation’s Wood Waste Resource Efficiency Project includes a feasibility study into setting up such collection networks.

But whether it’s a case of the timber sector devising strategies to cope with or capitalise on this burgeoning market, the consensus is the sooner it does it, the better, as wood energy’s momentum is building daily.

Just this week plans were unveiled for a plant in Inverurie to produce 250,000 tonnes of wood fuel a year and a power station in Bristol that will consume 850,000 tonnes. Haulage giant Eddie Stobart and AW Jenkinson Forest Products have also launched a wood biomass distribution joint venture which aims to make 2,000 deliveries to energy plants every single day.