The research was undertaken in early 2014 using existing published data to carry out a desk-based assessment of current industry practices both here and abroad. The research examined the observed efficiencies of systems from woodfuel input to useful heat output (i.e. measuring losses) across a wide range of applications, including retail sites, tower blocks, rural district heating schemes and many others.

The research highlighted the lack of installation standards in the UK, which is a marked contrast to other parts of the world, and appears to have profound consequences for the performance of many biomass heating systems.

We also examined the implications for emissions, and the research highlighted the lack of information on the emissions of biomass systems in the field as opposed to manufacturer-stated emissions which have been derived from laboratory testing. This is clearly an area where greater research is required, and was one of our key recommendations.

Comparisons between training provision and standards in the UK and overseas were also made, and it is clear that the UK is some way behind continental Europe on the skills agenda.

The full report, which covers these issues and many other insights into the UK biomass heat sector, will be made available by DECC later this year.