Pilot 5: Wood fuel quality

This pilot was implemented in Slovenia, Slovakia and Greece.

The Market for woody biomass increased in the last years in SEE area, mainly due to increased prices of fossil fuels. The most common and traditional wood fuel type is firewood, however wood chips and pellets also gain popularity. Due to increased demand the marked became diverse and also confusing for many consumers. In some European countries certification schemes were developed based on existing European and international standards with the goal to increase the consumers’ confidence; e.g. ENplus and DINplus for pellet producers and distributors. However, the implementation of such certification schemes can be expensive and time consuming, especially for small scale producers.

In many SEE countries, small scale producers prevail for whom the implementation of full scale quality control and quality assurance (QA/QC) system wouldn’t be possible, realistic or practical. Therefore the goal of the pilot application was to adopt and simplify the existing QA/QC system (as supposed in the EU CEN standards) to the capabilities of small scale producers (who sell les then 1000 tonne/year). The QA/QC system should however cover the four broad expert areas:

  1. traceability of raw material
  2. production requirements
  3. appropriate storage, handling and transportation of final product to the end costumer
  4. fuel specification

Objectives

The main objective of this pilot application is to develop and test simplified quality assurance and control (QA/QC) systems that would help smaller producers to assure quality wood fuels to end users. The goal is also to foster the use of relevant European standards related to wood biomass quality control and quality assurance among small scale wood biomass producers. The QA/QC system is applicable for various kinds of solid biofuels. 

A more realistic approach can be proposed for producers who sell less than 1000 tonne/year. It is possible to ensure that the most important parameters are properly tested and declared, besides the system can be expanded and improved to meet further requirements. The system is used to increase consumer confidence so that producers can demonstrate to end users that a specified quality is reached through controlling the processes in the supply chain.

Quality support system

The Slovenian Forestry Institute (SFI) proposed a support system for assurance of quality wood fuels (S4Q) that would actively help to establish a QA/QC system through the whole supply chain (from the origin to the delivery of the solid biofuel) and provide adequate confidence to the end users. The S4Q shame is divided in three consecutive and complementary parts:

  1. supporting
  2. testing
  3. control or surveillance

In the supporting period the consulting institution will support the small scale producers to set up a proper QA/QC system. During the testing period samples will be repeatedly collected from the production line and the production parameter will be recorded regularly in order to control if the QA/QC system was successfully implemented. After the supporting and testing period are finished the surveillance period starts; during this period the consulting institution will organise unannounced inspection visit to the producer in order to control if the QA/QC system is still adequately maintained.

In order to increase the awareness about the use of standardised procedures to determine the major properties of biomass fuels (water content, bulk density etc.) the following short film was prepared within the frame of the pilot: