The move recognises the significant momentum within this sector with biomass accounting for 56 percent of investment and 90 percent of energy produced under the commercial RHI between 2010-2012 and it continues to expand rapidly. Over 700 companies across the UK wood heat supply chain support approximately 13,500 jobs.
The WHA was founded in interim form last year by wood heat companies seeking to establish a single trade body to represent the modern UK wood heating industry, from equipment manufacturers and installers to fuel producers and distributors. The WHA Interim Board decided to establish the WHA as an affiliate association to the umbrella trade body the REA. Under the partnership, the WHA will benefit from the REA’s back-office support and policy expertise in much the same way as the Solar Trade Association (STA), which affiliated to the REA in 2011.
Julian Morgan-Jones, MD of South East Wood Fuels and Interim Chairman of the WHA, said: “This is an exciting time for the wood heat industry. Wood heat is rapidly becoming one of the major players in UK renewables. As the industry grows, it is increasingly important to establish a clear identity and a strong voice to government and stakeholders. The REA is already doing great work here so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, which is why we are very happy to be working with them.
“Our number one focus is securing the future of the RHI beyond 2016. Beyond that, we are also working to professionalise the industry so it is well equipped to tackle the challenges ahead. An important first step is to raise awareness and standards across the wood heat supply chain: from boiler design, manufacture and installation to the safety, quality and sustainability of wood fuel. Together we’re seeking to encourage more joined up thinking between fuel suppliers and equipment installers.”
Dr Nina Skorupska, REA chief executive, said: “One of the REA’s key objectives is to empower its members to achieve sustainable growth. As individual technology sectors reach that tipping point, they begin need a more distinct voice to Government and stakeholders, with dedicated resources, to keep the momentum going. We are giving the wood heat industry that extra level of support to achieve exactly that.
“The REA consistently champions the benefits of all renewable energy sources, which all help reduce our reliance on imported and polluting fossil fuels while offering exciting opportunities for jobs and growth in innovative businesses. The WHA will drill down more deeply into the specific benefits of wood heating as a key part of a sustainable bio-based economy, helping households and businesses cut their heating costs as well as their environmental impacts.”
All corporate WHA members will automatically be given membership to the REA’s existing Biomass Heat Group (BHG), and vice versa, with the two groups set to run in parallel until at least 2015