Scottish highlands to rely on biomass fuel as energy alternative

Community groups in Scotland are looking at how biomass can heat their homes, with the cost of energy rising.

Groups in Wester Ross and Caithness see biomass as the perfect replacement for fossil fuels, and charity Highland Birchwoods will help the groups by supplying wood and estimating costs.

Highlands Birch will help the groups come to a decision on whether biomass plants are a suitable alternative. The biomass boiler schemes will be able to heat around 50 properties each, that aren’t connected to the main gas supply network.

The biomass would actually be timber, dried and converted into wood chips. But biomass can be in other forms too, such as agricultural crops. Anything that is replenished easily can be used to fuel biomass boilers, as it’s a renewable source unlike coal, gas and oil.

The Highlands Birchwood charity was launched in 1992 and has successfully run four international wood fuel projects. These include Northern WoodHeat, Pelletime, North Seas Bioenergy and Make It Be.

The charity has worked with a number of other European countries to help develop renewable technology and bring it to Scotland. They’ve co-operated with organisations in Italy, Belgium, Slovenia, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Germany, Holland and Austria.

They want to continue the work put in through the Make It Be scheme, and will begin the projects in Wester Ross and Caithness early next year.

Renewable energy, especially biomass, could prove crucial to tackling fuel poverty in the UK. It’ll also create more jobs at a time when unemployment is high and reduce carbon emissions.

A charity spokesman said: “Highland Birchwoods aim is to work with the communities and contribute to the success of their projects, with our long term goal of using them to create a blueprint for other communities throughout the Highlands and the UK.”

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