Small Woodland Owners' Group

Cheaper Oil Impact

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Re: Cheaper Oil Impact

Postby jennysmate » Thu Dec 18, 2014 9:38 am

On CO2 emissions, wood floors the competition, 1/10th of the emissions of fossil fuels or even heat pumps, and less than a 1/20th of the emissions of leccy heating. Even better if you source wood from your own woodland rather than buying it

But what about particulates? A recent article in the mail stated
But wood may not be as green as it seems. Scientists from King’s College London say burning wood generates particulates – minuscule particles that can raise the risk of heart disease, trigger asthma and shorten lives.
Their research shows levels surge during winter evenings – when wood-burning accounts for 13 per cent of particulates in the air in some British cities.
In some hot spots, the pollution is comparable to that from traffic fumes.

Researcher Dr Gary Fuller told the Sunday Times: ‘Although the apparent carbon neutrality of wood may make it appear environmentally friendly, there is growing evidence of adverse health effects from wood smoke.
‘Domestic wood burning takes place where people live and at times when they are at home.
‘Coupled with still night-time conditions even modest wood-burning in urban areas may lead to particulate exposures comparable to those from traffic sources.
‘We need to manage urban emissions to ensure increased wood-burning does not offset schemes to reduce traffic pollution.’

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Re: Cheaper Oil Impact

Postby oldclaypaws » Thu Dec 18, 2014 10:47 am

An interesting read. 200,000 new stoves a year- no wonder wood fuel prices are rising. The particulate problem seems to be restricted to urban areas where there are so many other sources of pollution- notably diesel fumes. I guess the harsh lesson of that is if you or your family have any acute chest conditions like asthma, move if you can away from large urban areas. That's the reason my family left our traditional stomping ground of Tynemouth (where we'd been since the 1850's), during a foggy night combined with all the coal fumes it produced smog and we all went down with bronchitis and bad chests. You could taste the sulphur in the air. We went about 30 miles inland into rural South Northumberland and the bad chests stopped. Wood emissions aren't the cleanest, but the carbon neutral element means its the soundest choice in terms of CO2 and climate change. Pre industrialisation and fossil fuel use, when wood was pretty much the sole fuel, scientific data shows historic CO2 levels were not at the current dangerous levels, 278 ppm versus the current 400ppm. Last time CO2 was 400 ppm, 5 Million years ago, global temperatures were up to 8 degrees higher.

The encouraging note is the quotes at the end. I doubt you're suggesting we all stop burning wood, Jennysmate ?

‘Modern stoves are very efficient and clean, with about 14 milligrams of particulate per cubic metre of air. ‘That compares to 100mg five years ago.’

The Department of Energy and Climate Change said that the technology has ‘an important role to play in transforming the way we heat our homes.’
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Re: Cheaper Oil Impact

Postby Terry » Thu Dec 25, 2014 11:04 am

I doubt that there are many stoves putting out 14mg/m3, most will be higher and the higher effciency stoves rely on burning in a particular way as regards size of logs, moisture content, air settings etc to achieve low emmissions. The owners of these stoves often dont operate them as intended and that doesnt account for all the other less efficient stoves in use.

There are those that argue that wood burning is not carbon neutral as burning releases large amounts of CO2 much quicker than they would if allowed to follow a natural cycle. As more and more wood is burned this will get worse.

As demand increases more will be burning lower quality wood and also contaminated wood (painted and chemically treated wood for instance)
Many people burning wood also fail to consider the options to reduce heating demand by insulating and draft proofing.

As for the comparison referred to above with burning resulting in 1/10th of the emissions of fossil fuels etc - not read it, but presumably it is based on historic figures, albeit potentially recent historic figures of emmissions. That being the case and with wood burners multiplying rapidly I suspect that the figures will be changing for the worse fairly rapidly. Also a handful of large generators are significantly more controlable than millions of privately operated wood burners and improving technology will further exagerate this.

I fully intend to keep burning wood, but have gone to great lengths to reduce the amount required and I try to burn as efficiently as possible.
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