In January 2019 the UK Clean Air Strategy mentioned that the “increase in burning solid fuels (wood and coal) in homes (domestic burning) is having a profound impact on our air quality and now makes up the single largest contributor to our national PM emissions at 38%”.
We feel this statement, and quoted figure of 38% is misleading, and is certainly not a real or accurate measurement of actual pollution. The 38% figure mentioned in the Clean Air Strategy is based on the estimate that 6 million tonnes of wood fuel is burnt each year in the UK. This figure was arrived at following a user survey, conducted by the BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) in 2015/2016. Over 1,200 members of the public, who use wood fuel to heat their homes took part.
In 2019 The SIA Completed a Survey……
In early 2019 the SIA (Stove Industry Alliance) conducted a survey, using the same methodology and questions that the BEIS asked, but the sample was over 10,000 consumers who burn wood as a heating source.
The results, which had been independently reviewed and verified by Kiwa created a lot of interest. The volume of wood burnt each year in the UK is closer to 1.85 million tonnes. Applying this more up to date and accurate figure to the calculation used within the Clean Air Strategy, the percentage of PM2.5 attributable to domestic wood burning would fall from 38% to 14.9%. Furthermore the SIA survey shows almost 97% of the users use wood as a heating source, which is a strong endorsement for wood, as a low cost, low carbon heating method in the UK.
And the research becomes more interesting….
Apart from suggesting that the UK domestically burns 1.85 million tonnes of wood a year, and not 6 million as previously thought, there is more research, which comes to light. The SIA survey found that more than 27% of appliances are inefficient open fires or stoves that are over 10 years old. These heating appliances are much less efficient than Ecodesign Ready stoves. This means a huge 51% of the UK domestic wood consumption is burnt on open fires and old inefficient stoves.
If we were to replace these old models and fires with new Ecodesign Ready stoves, like those found in our range, there would be a reduction in emissions by nearly 45%. With this significant reduction applied, wood burning would account for just 8% of PM2.5 in the UK. The analysis of the UK’s wood fuel consumption does show a large amount of uncertainty in the BEIS surveys figures. It also indicates that the contribution of air pollution from wood burning has been dramatically overstated.
It’s about time that the public were made aware of the facts around burning wood, and how Ecodesign Stoves play a crucial role in making a cleaner, greener, more sustainable environment for all.