The yield and cost of harvesting wood fuel from hedges in the Tamar Valley and Blackdowns AONBs, South-West England

Robert Wolton (June 2012)


OK, so the title is a bit of a mouthful! 

... But this is an excellent in-depth report on the viability of using hedges as a source of sustainable fuel.

12 hedges in the South-West were sampled to determine their yield of firewood vs the costs of extracting and processing the "crop".

A (very brief!) extract from the results is as follows:

"[...] at today's prices, it will be exceptional that any hedge in south-west England can be sustainably managed under a Lay + Log system to produce fuel cheaper than buying in heating oil. However, if the Coppice + Chip system practiced in mainland northern Europe is used, then the reverse will normally be true, provided that hedges are harvested when typically 6 - 7 m high with a spreading canopy and some stems more than 15 cm in diameter


Managing hedges under a sustainable Coppice + Chip system should also produce fuel cheaper than buying in wood chips or wood pellets in most cases


Results from two hedges where whole biomass data are available suggest that a Devon hedge will accumulate 1.5 MWh worth of biomass per 100m per year. Consequently, on a 15 year coppice rotation without periodic top trimming, about 125 m of hedge will need to be harvested each year to heat an average (4-5 bedroom) leaky farmhouse with an energy demand of 30 MWh."

Read the full report (part of a series on wood fuel published by Hedgelink) to get the details.

If you are thinking of using hedgerows as a source of fuel this is a must-read report!

Submitted by Sarah Green