Wood pellets in the North-East of England

Forever Fuels has supplied the North East occasionally from our site in Retford, Notts. But from 2013, we will be introducing local deliveries to the region.

Fishburn depot

In summer 2011, we identified a site in Fishburn, near Sedgefield in County Durham, for one of our bespoke wood pellet depots. Our planning application was submitted in late 2011, and we received planning approval in February 2012. Unfortunately, Durham County Council's estates management and conveyancing departments then managed to make the completion of the purchase so difficult that we had still not commenced construction of the depot by the end of 2012. The depot can be built within around 2 months of the completion of the land purchase, so we will get a depot up and running in the North-East not too long after completion of the purchase. Our latest target date to open the site is March 2013, Council lawyers permitting.

The depot incorporates many features to ensure the quality and cost-effectiveness of our wood pellet supplies, as we explain on a separate page on the design of this type of depot.

Like our other sites, the Fishburn depot will be dedicated to A1-grade wood pellets. It is equipped to meet all the requirements of ENplus accreditation. The hopper holds nothing but A1 wood pellets, the trucks carry nothing but A1 wood pellets, and the staff are trained and focused on all the requirements to give the best service to wood pellet customers.

Fishburn is well located to serve Durham, Teesside, Tyne & Wear, Northumberland and North Yorkshire. Because of the original target area, we sometimes refer to it as the Darlington depot.

Carlisle depot

We are aiming to install another specialist wood pellet depot in the Carlisle-Lockerbie corridor. This has been the hardest region to find a suitable location for a depot. As of Dec 2012, we have a long way to go before we are likely to be ready to open a depot in the area, but we are still looking.

Other bases

We are able to supply the southern parts of the region from our site in Retford (Notts.) and from the new depot in Middlewich (Cheshire) when it opens, hopefully in early February 2012.

We are operating pressurised tankers from Verdo Renewables' factory in Grangemouth, near Falkirk and Land Energy's factory in Girvan (South Ayrshire). We can run deliveries to the north part of the region from Grangemouth or Girvan. When we deliver direct from the factory, the longer haulage cost is compensated to some extent by a lower price for the wood pellets, so it may remain more economic to serve some customers in the far north of the region from one of the Scottish factories, even after Fishburn opens.

The flexibility of multiple bases and vehicles in the region gives us the cover to ensure continuity of supply.

Delivery vehicles

We will operate a purpose-built, 6-wheel pressurised tanker from Fishburn. The tanker has already been built and delivered as of Jan 2012, and is waiting to begin operating from Fishburn once the depot has been erected.

Carlisle will also take a purpose-built pressurised tanker when it begins operations. We are already running these specialist vehicles from Retford and Grangemouth (like all our bases), for deliveries into the region. We can also offer deliveries by 4-wheeler tanker from Retford, for those customers who can't accommodate a 6-wheeler.

Forever Fuels operates the highest-specification, dedicated wood pellet delivery vehicles in the country.

  • We run tankers rather than tippers because it treats the wood pellets more gently (the pellets encounter no moving parts on a tanker, whereas they are ground by a rotary valve and a pair of augers on a tipper), and also required less overhead clearance on delivery
  • We run 6-wheel and a few 4-wheel trucks to give a better chance of accessing awkward sites than the converted 8-wheel animal-feed tippers used by many of our competitors. Most of our 6-wheelers are equipped with rear-steer or lifting rear-axle for additional manoeuvrability.
  • All our tankers are equipped with suction systems for dust extraction and (more importantly) pressure equalisation in your fuel store. Your store must have an outlet with a Storz 110A flange and a power socket available for us to plug the extractor into, in order to take advantage of this facility.
  • All our pressurised tankers are equipped with Legal for Trade weigh loaders so you can be confident that you have been charged for exactly what you received (to an accuracy of 20kg) when we bill you according to the measurements on our weigh-loaders. Because of potential inaccuracies and over-charging, it is against Trading Standards regulations to bill customers according to the readings from weigh-loaders that are not Legal for Trade. Most of our competitors' weigh-loaders are not Legal for Trade.

Our drivers are specialists, trained how to use these vehicles to give the best results, e.g. minimising dust and managing the speed and pressure of delivery.

To our knowledge, there is only one other wood pellet delivery vehicle in the country equipped to this standard, as of Jan 2012. Our large fleet of high-spec vehicles means that you can be confident of the quality of service you will receive from us, regardless of the repair and maintenance work that needs to be carried out on all vehicles from time to time.

Where our wood pellets come from

We supply A1-grade wood pellets from British producers (A1 as per the specification in the European standard EN-14961-2). Our pellets are also from producers who have been accredited to ENplus-A1 standard.

There are some wood pellet producers in the region who use recycled wood. Recovered wood pellets can be fine (if the process is managed properly) for the right application, but they are not suitable for the small-to-medium installations that we generally supply. Our customers need higher quality.

The quality and reliability of British producers has improved in recent years. Producers like Verdo Renewables are manufacturing British wood pellets that are as good quality as pellets from the continent. We plan to supply British pellets in the region for the foreseeable future, but we would not hesitate to bring in wood pellets from abroad if it were necessary to meet the quality or quantity required by our customers.

Stocks of wood pellets

Each depot (e.g. Fishburn or Carlisle) holds around 150 tonnes, which would allow us to keep supplying from local resources for a few days even if there were problems bringing pellets to the region.

But we also have resilience against longer interruptions, for instance if there is a fire at the wood pellet factory. Going into winter, we hold around 2,000 tonnes of wood pellets at our store in Retford, Notts. and over 4,000 tonnes of wood pellets at our store in Avonmouth, near Bristol. Both of these are able to supply Fishburn and Carlisle if required.

We lay in enough stock in summer to give our customers the confidence that supplies will continue to be available throughout the winter, and will not be dependent on production and prices in peak heating season. This gives us a big enough buffer to keep supplying for a couple of months of peak winter demand even if the quality British producers shut down for one reason or another.

Our pellets at Retford and Avonmouth are screened and vacuumed as part of the process of loading the delivery vehicles, to remove fines and dust respectively, before being screened and vacuumed again at the depots.

Quality, security and value

Our investment in the region ensures that we can offer competitive wood pellet prices and a high level of service in the area. Parts of the North East have suffered from lack of access to the gas grid and high heating-oil prices. We believe wood pellets are an ideal fuel for the region.

Environment and sustainability

Our investment ensures that wood pellets are delivered as efficiently as possible into the area, with the maximum environmental benefit. We have put together some carbon-footprint calculations, to illustrate the environmental benefit of wood pellets from a number of sources compared to other forms of heating, even when the pellets have to be carried over quite long distances, as they may have to be for the more remote parts of the region. The comparisons of different wood pellet supply scenarios are based on a hypothetical customer near our depot in Okehampton (Devon), but the methods of transport and consequent impacts will be very similar from Fishburn or Carlisle.

Local wood pellet prices and carbon footprints

Our spot prices for blown deliveries of wood pellets are calculated on the basis of a price per tonne for the pellets, plus a price per mile from the nearest Forever Fuels depot or store. We also offer annual or multi-year contracts where we manage your fuel for you, inclusive of pellets, delivery, level-sensor and monitoring and scheduling services. These options are likely to offer you a better deal than our basic spot price, so do contact our local representative (see above right) to see how we can offer you the best deal.

But, for your convenience, we have put together below a few indicative figures based on our spot prices for some of the major towns in the area.

Town Post code Nearest depot Delivery cost Delivered price for 10 tonnes Carbon footprint (kgCO2 /MWh)
Location Distance (miles) (£/tonne) (p/kWh)
Alnwick, NorthumberlandNE66Darlington72.1£25?.??£21?.??4.471.08
Barnard Castle, DurhamDL12Darlington29.6£16?.??£20?.??4.268.39
Berwick-upon-Tweed, NorthumberlandTD15Grangemouth86.9£29?.??£20?.??4.367.90
Bishop Auckland, DurhamDL14Darlington14.6£13?.??£19?.??4.167.45
Blyth, NorthumberlandNE24Darlington44.2£19?.??£20?.??4.369.32
Consett, DurhamDH8Darlington30.0£16?.??£20?.??4.268.42
Darlington, DurhamDL1Darlington11.0£12?.??£19?.??4.167.22
DurhamDH1Darlington16.2£13?.??£19?.??4.167.55
Hartlepool, ClevelandTS24Darlington13.2£12?.??£19?.??4.167.36
Hexham, NorthumberlandNE46Darlington46.7£20?.??£20?.??4.369.47
Middlesbrough, ClevelandTS1Darlington11.2£12?.??£19?.??4.167.23
Morpeth, NorthumberlandNE61Darlington50.7£21?.??£20?.??4.369.73
Newcastle upon TyneNE1Darlington32.5£17?.??£20?.??4.268.58
Otterburn, NorthumberlandNE19Darlington59.4£23?.??£20?.??4.370.27
Redcar, ClevelandTS10Darlington18.9£14?.??£19?.??4.167.72
Sedgefield, DurhamTS21Darlington1.0£10?.??£19?.??4.166.59
Stanhope, DurhamDL13Darlington28.7£16?.??£20?.??4.268.34
Stockton-on-Tees, ClevelandTS16Darlington10.4£12?.??£19?.??4.167.18
Sunderland, Tyne & WearSR1Darlington25.5£15?.??£20?.??4.268.13

See our page on carbon footprints to see how these figures compare with other heating fuels. In summary, the carbon footprint of wood pellets delivered to anywhere within the region is an order of magnitude lower than the carbon footprint of any fossil-fuel or electricity for heating.