Interest in biomass as a source of heating is hotting up in Ireland but, according to COFORD, concerted effort by growers, agencies and policy makers is required over the next 10 years to make it a reality.

The organisation said a direct barrier to increased use of wood biomass is the capital cost of heating boilers, its reliability, fuel specification and security of fuel.

COFORD, Ireland’s national council for forest research and development, said wood boilers are more than twice the price of those running on oil and it has called for the rapid roll out of a capital grant scheme to aid their purchase and installation to stimulate the market.

COFORD said that as well as looking at the capital cost, anyone thinking of installing a biomass boiler will also have to look at fuel sources, their price and reliability.

The price competitiveness of wood biomass combined with a capital grant makes an attractive proposition, but COFORD said it is critical that there is good and secure supply chain management of wood and chips.

COFORD has held a series a workshops – all of which were over-subscribed – to address supply chain issues.

A further workshop will be held on December 16 and harvesting and transport demonstrations will take place throughout 2006.