Wood fuel prices have been incredibly stable compared to other fuels. Wood fuel is a competitive source of heat compared to most fossil fuels such as oil and LPG and even natural gas when looking in the long to medium term. It has the potential to offer end-users affordable energy that to some extent can be insulated from increases in fossil fuel prices. It also has perhaps the lowest cost of all renewable energy technologies.
The table below gives a guide to the typical cost per unit of fuel energy for comparison. This is not the same as cost per unit of delivered heat which will depend on the efficiency of the boiler or stove, and may also include other charges such as service and maintenance for heat supply contracts. All prices are prone to significant variation with geographical region, order quantities, contract value and duration, time of year, delivery distance etc.
The wood fuel costs are averages based on current English Wood Fuels rates. Moisture content is a critical parameter for wood fuel. Most wood fuel boilers are designed to operate with fuel of moisture content of a limited range. Attempting to use fuel that is outside this range will result in the boiler either operating inefficiently, with increased emissions, or trip out the control system and fail to function at all.
The right fuel is vital to the correct operation of boilers and stoves. Moisture has a significant impact on the calorific value of fuel as well as its cost.
The costs below are shown as ‘input’ prices – i.e. the cost of the fuel before the inefficiency of the boiler. They are presented like this to enable a like-for-like comparison, because that is the way that oil and gas prices are presented. Wood fuel boilers are typically 85-90% efficient, and so the cost of heat ‘on the meter’ (after the inefficiencies of the boiler) will be the cost shown below divided by the efficiency of the boiler. We have shown this below assuming an efficiency based on the moisture content. The price will depend hugely on the delivery size and the type of lorry which can access the site.
Switching to a biomass wood fuel heating system such as wood chip instead of either oil of LPG can save you between 40% and 60% on your heating costs depending upon the type of existing fuel being used and age and efficiency of current system.