Carbon Footprint - Wood Pellets from Invergordon by sea to Okehampton delivery

We calculate below the carbon footprint of a hypothetical delivery of Scottish pellets to a customer 27 miles from our depot in Okehampton. 27 miles is chosen somewhat arbitrarily as a reasonably typical distance from depot to customer. The Scottish factory chosen for the sake of the example is the largest in Britain, utilises biomass CHP, and is close to a dock. It therefore gives a reasonably optimistic figure for the carbon-footprint of supplying pellets from a remote British pellet plant utilising biomass CHP.

Forever Fuels do not currently buy from Balcas, but their pellet plants in Enniskillen (Northern Ireland) and Invergordon (Scotland) are currently the only ones in Britain that use biomass CHP. Most of the output from Enniskillen now supplies the Irish market, so we take Invergordon as a best-case scenario for supply of efficiently-produced British pellets to British customers, for comparison with efficiently-produced imported pellets and more local pellet production without biomass CHP.

British pellets from remote locations like Invergordon can travel to the customers by road or by sea (partly). This makes a significant difference to the carbon footprint, so we have estimated the carbon footprint from each scenario. We consider on this page the scenario where the pellets travel by sea for the lion's share of the distance. However, at present, pellets from Invergordon for the British market are shipped mostly by road.

Invergordon wood-pellet production plant
Softwood forest   Pellet production takes a significant amount of heat and electricity. Larger plants like Invergordon often use biomass-fired Combined Heat & Power (CHP) equipment to supply their heat and electricity and (where possible) supply excess green heat and electricity to neighbouring businesses and homes, maximising the efficiency and displacement of fossil fuels. Invergordon's electrical efficiency is significantly lower than Swedish plant like Storuman and Hedensbyn, and unlike them, has little opportunity locally to use the surplus heat for district heating. Nevertheless, no fossil carbon is emitted in the production of the pellets.
Wood pellet factory  
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kg of CO2 released per tonne of pellet produced
From plant to dock at Invergordon
Bulk tipper for mass transporting wood pellets   Balcas's plant at Invergordon is close to the dock in the same town. The emission factor is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per mile by the vehicle for a return journey (fully laden on the outward leg and empty on the return), divided by the number of tonnes carried. The emission factor is then multiplied by the number of miles the vehicle travels.
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 Miles x Emission factor per tonne = kg of CO2 released per tonne of pellets delivered to port
1 x 0.129 = 0.129
Invergordon to Avonmouth
Coaster for bulk shipping of wood pellets   Shipping has a much lower carbon intensity per tonne per mile than road transport, so pellets shipped long distances by sea and short distances by road may have a lower carbon footprint than pellets shipped long distances by road within the UK.
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 Miles x Emission factor per tonne = kg of CO2 released per tonne of pellets shipped
713 x 0.02636 = 18.79
Avonmouth to Okehampton
Bulk tipper for mass transporting wood pellets   Generally, the larger the lorry, the lower the carbon footprint and cost per tonne of pellet-haulage. But it is not usually practical to deliver to customers in the largest lorries. To minimize cost and carbon emissions without sacrificing convenience to the customer, where deliveries are not close to the port or factory, FF transports pellets from port or factory to local depots in large, 28-tonne bulk tippers, and then from the depot to the customer in smaller delivery vehicles more suitable for the smaller stores and less-accessible roads that are often encountered.
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 Miles x Emission factor per tonne = kg of CO2 released per tonne of pellets delivered to depot
102 x 0.129 = 13.16
Okehampton to customer
Pneumatic blower lorry for delivering bulk wood pellets   FF has a fleet of delivery vehicles that can carry between 10 and 20 tonnes. DEFRA suggest that such vehicles would emit around 0.214 kg CO2/t mile. The actual figure would vary significantly, depending how many tonnes the vehicle was able to deliver in a single run. Where appropriate, FF aims to combine deliveries to maximize efficiency. Efficiency will thus improve as the market grows and consolidates, increasing opportunities to combine deliveries.
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 Miles x Emission factor per tonne = kg of CO2 released per tonne of pellets delivered to customer
27 x 0.303 = 8.18
Total carbon footprint at the customer's property
Blown delivery of bulk wood pellets      
Total Miles x Combined emission factor per tonne = kg of CO2 released per tonne of pellets from factory to customer
843 x 0.048 = 40.26
Energy source kg of CO2 equiv. released per MWhth
Wood pellets (as above) 8.39
Oil 307.86 
LPG 259.07 
Natural gas 225.54 
Coal 413.42 
Electricity  617.07