Biomass heating scheme sparks huge demand for timber firm’s wood pellets

A TOP North Wales timber company is reporting red hot demand for its speciality line of wood pellets sparked by government cash incentives for people to install the environment friendly biomass heating systems they burn.

Award-winning Clifford Jones Timber, based in Ruthin, annually churn out 30,000 tons of the pellets – which it describes as the “fuel of the future” – at a purpose-built 20,000 square foot factory at its Brickfield Lane home.

And the company says sales of the pellets have doubled since the UK Government launched its Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) scheme in April this year.

Under the scheme a cash tariff of 12.2p per kilowatt hour (kWh) is being paid for up to seven years to people using biomass boilers to generate domestic heat.

The idea behind the scheme is that by increasing the generation of heat from renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels, the UK will cut greenhouse gas emissions and meet targets for reducing the effects of climate change.

The ‘green’ biomass systems are fuelled by sustainable biological materials and are cleaner to operate than those using oil, gas or electricity.

The 6mm diameter fuel pellets produced by Clifford Jones Timber at its Blazers division plant are made from virgin wood and are a direct by-product of its Round Timber sawmilling which the company makes at the factory which opened in 2008 at a cost of £5 million.

Sales Manager Paul Clarke said: “Since the RHI scheme was brought in around Easter-time, using biomass boilers powered by wood pellets has been a no-brainer and more and more people are having them installed.

“They all need the right fuel to run them and lots of them have been coming to us, which has meant a large increase in our enquiries and sales.

“Over the past few months we’ve seen a tripling of enquiries for our ENPLUS A1 pellets and sales of them have doubled.

“This has given a big boost to our business and helped justify the major investment we made in our new plant in 2008.

“Our customers are coming from the domestic sector as well as places like care homes, leisure centres, school and hotels.

“We sell the pellets in 15 kg bags and also via our own Blown Delivery service, customers from the North Wales area are coming into our Ruthin base to pick them up. We can also arrange national deliveries.”

Paul added: “Wooden pellets for biomass are definitely the fuel of the future. In fact, that’s the slogan we have on the side of our delivery lorries.

“They burn with a high calorific value and burn cleaner than other fuels and their price also compares favourably. Even the ash they leave behind when they’re burnt can be used in the garden as a nutritious fertilizer.

“The pellets are being used to power not only heating boilers but also cookers and barbecues.

“Another use is to power the heating systems for swimming pools, which is something that’s been popular in the United States for a few years and is now catching on here too.”

Clifford Jones Timber was founded in 1948 and has been at its Ruthin base for 25 years.

Their proud claim is that every piece of the 100,000 tons of timber that comes through its gates every year is used, with none being wasted.

Apart from the fuel pellets, the range of products the company supplies includes the fencing of which they are a by-product – they are Britain’s biggest producer of round timber posts – along with gates, bedding for horses and even cat litter.

The range of wood fuels includes dried logs and wood briquettes.

The company uses timber from forests all over the UK and also has a second site at Gretna in Scotland where 10 staff are employed in addition to the 70 in Ruthin.

The company picked up a prestigious award for its innovative approach to business when it was honoured at the Achievement Wales Business Awards for 2013.

Clifford Jones timber took the Welsh Government’s Growth Through Innovation Award and was presented with their trophy at a glittering occasion hosted by BBC newsreader Nicholas Owen at Venue Cymru, in Llandudno.

In their submission, Clifford Jones Timber attributed their growth over the last 12 months to the introduction of Wales’s first timber laminating plant and the development of a new wooden-framed solar panel frame.

The two are linked because the frame is made from laminated timber made at the company’s own glulam laminating plant in Ruthin using hi tech adhesive used in the aerospace industry to produce a new generation of eco-friendly durable timber-based materials for the construction and leisure industries and now also for the renewables industry.

The company has invested more than £1.2 million in the new state of the art laminating equipment which gives them the capacity to supply high quality, durable laminated timber for the leisure and construction industries and has created 10 new jobs.

CJT also saw the potential to make solar energy even more eco-friendly by using laminated timber to make the world’s first commercially produced timber solar panel frame.

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