Plans to develop a commercially sustainable Scottish bioenergy industry capable of creating 2,000 new jobs have taken a major step forward.

A Biomass Energy Network was launched at a bioenergy seminar in Dunkeld organised by Scottish Renewables.

The network will facilitate links between stakeholders in the Scottish bioenergy industry, including public sector bodies, and co-ordinate learning and knowledge sharing.

The seminar also saw the publication of a Scottish Enterprise commissioned report The Commercial Opportunities of Wood Fuel Heating in Scotland.

The report says Scotland is unique in northern Europe in lacking a developed wood energy strategy.

But it says wood heating has the potential for rapid growth and delivering significant benefits, including a CO2 emission reduction of 1 million tonnes annually, increased employment in the forestry sector and an extra £53m of forestry income a year to stimulate improved woodland management.

ConFor spokesperson Stuart Goodall said: “Current renewable energy policy is missing out on a big opportunity by focusing on electricity generation rather than heat, which is a far larger market.”