Rainbow Heat and Power Explains The terms “Biomass” and “Woodfuel”

12 November 2014

At Rainbow Heat and Power we realise many of our customers have many questions about biomass and what the term actually means. We have a number of guides on our website explaining terms and the benefits biomass can have. We have summarised this below, but you can also refer to our full guides in our FAQ section of our website.

Biomass is a fuel material derived from any biological (plant or animal) source. Woodfuel, is just one type of biomass from a list of many.


Woodfuel is wood that is burned to generate heat or electricity and comes in the form or logs, chips or pellets. Traditionally woodfuel has been used in the form of burning logs in open fireplaces, log-burning stoves or furnaces. This process was time consuming and inefficient and over time was superseded by fossil fuels mainly, electric, gas and oil.

Over the last 50 years, technology has changed the way we can burn wood and modern stoves and boilers can be sourced with thermostatic controls and automated ignition. When using pellets or chips even the loading of the fuel can be automated.


There are many benefits to burning wood fuel, both for the end user and the environment.

Competitively Priced

Woodfuel can be a cheaper alternative to fossil fuels and together with RHI payments can help recoup the installed cost of a biomass system, typically in 4-6 years. Obviously fuel cost savings depends on the availability of wood fuel in your area. We would suggest checking with the Biomass Suppliers List when thinking about biomass to cheap there is a competitively priced and convenient source local to you.

Environmental Benefits

Woodfuel has a potential role in helping to prevent climate change due to their lower net emissions of greenhouse gases than fossil fuels. When woodfuel is produced in sustainably managed forests it is replaced by the next crop of growing trees. The growing crops reabsorbs the same amount of carbon that is emitted by the burning crop. There is no such carbon balance for fossil fuels which are effectively “one way traffic”.

Woodfuel is a Renewable Energy and a sustainably managed woodland can produce an endless supply of energy. Once fossil fuels have been used they won’t be replaced for millions of years.

Sustainably managed woodland is good for wildlife, biodiversity and the health of the woodland. Thinning, harvesting and coppicing of trees for woodfuel open up the woodland floor to sunlight, encouraging a greater range of plants, animals and insects to flourish. If this didn’t take place the woodland would become rank, dark and overgrown.

If you would like to learn more about how using woodfuel for biomass is helping the environment and can also help your pocket, contact us at Hello@rainbowheatandpower.co.uk or call us on 01884 212 044.