Wood pellets in the North-West of England
From the start of 2012, Forever Fuels is bringing its quality services to the North West of England.
Construction of our specialist wood-pellet depot in Middlewich, Cheshire was completed in April 2011. We are now able to offer the full ENplus-A1 service (including pressurised tankers equipped with suction systems and gauged weigh-loaders) to customers in the region.
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 this bespoke design.
Like our other sites, the Middlewich depot is 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.
Middlewich is well located to serve Cheshire, Liverpool, Manchester, Lancashire and parts of Derbyshire (as well as the West Midlands, Shropshire, Staffordshire and North Wales).
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, but as of early 2012, we now have a number of options, one of which is likely to be suitable once we've agreed terms, obtained planning permission and built the plant. These steps are likely to take us to at least the end of summer 2012 before the site will be operational. But we are able to serve customers in the region before then, from Grangemouth and Middlewich, and from Darlington when it opens.
The flexibility of multiple bases and vehicles in the region gives us the cover to ensure continuity of supply.
Although it is outside the North-West region, our planned depot at Fishburn, near Darlington (Durham) is not far from some parts of Cumbria. It will give us coverage if there are problems with Middlewich and Carlisle, and another option besides Grangemouth for serving the northern part of the region until the Carlisle depot is running. The planning application for this site was under consideration as of Jan 2012, and if all goes well, we hope to be operating from it by early April 2012.
We are operating a pressurised tanker from Verdo Renewables' factory in Grangemouth, near Falkirk. We can run deliveries to the north part of the region from Grangemouth until the Darlington depot is operational. When we deliver direct from the factory, the longer haulage cost is compensated to some extent by a lower price for the pellets.
We are also offering deliveries direct from Clifford Jones' pellet factory in Ruthin, which offers an alternative to Middlewich for customers in the south-west of the region.
We are operating a purpose-built, 6-wheel pressurised tanker from Middlewich and Ruthin.
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.
Forever Fuels operates the highest-specification, dedicated wood-pellet delivery vehicles in the country.
- We run tankers rather than tippers because it treats the 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 was not up to the necessary standard until recently. Before that, we imported pellets from Sweden (where they produce 1,500,000 tonnes of wood pellets per year, so know how to do it properly) to ensure that wood pellets of a suitable quality were available to our customers. That is no longer necessary now that producers like Verdo Renewables are producing British wood pellets that are as good quality as pellets from the continent. 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, and we have the infrastructure to do so.
Stocks of wood pellets
Each depot (e.g. Middlewich 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 Middlewich and Carlisle as 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 prices and a high level of service in the area. Parts of the North West 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 also 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 Middlewich or Carlisle.
Local 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. The annual inclusive contract may 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)|
|Bolton, Greater Manchester*||BL1||Middlewich||35.6||£17?.??||£18?.??||3.8||27.87|
|Keswick, Lake District||CA12||Darlington||86.7||£27?.??||£20?.??||4.2||72.00|
|Oldham, Greater Manchester*||OL1||Middlewich||36.7||£17?.??||£18?.??||3.8||27.94|
|Stockport, Greater Manchester*||SK1||Middlewich||25.2||£15?.??||£18?.??||3.8||27.22|
* The pellet price is discounted for deliveries from Ruthin and Middlewich and Girvan.
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.