Premier Forest Group is a leading UK timber group involved in the import, distribution, sawmilling and wholesale processing of timber and timber products. At their facility in Newport Wales, Premier Forest Group compresses wood waste into briquettes which are then fed into a custom-built biomass gasification system, producing syngas and biochar. The syngas is immediately filtered and cooled before combustion in an electricity generator. The power is used on-site and exported to the grid. The facility was the first of its kind in the UK.
The biochar’s carbon content is high, at 86.5% and stable, as indicated by the H/C ratio of 0.13. Accend carried out a lifecycle assessment (LCA) of Premier Forest’s production process in December 2021. The LCA accounts for all process emissions from the production of the waste, briquetting, on-site transport, the manufacturing of the biochar on-site, and auxiliary materials. The LCA confirms that a net amount of 2.96 tons of CO2 is removed and sequestered for every 1 ton of biochar produced and sold.
The biochar had previously been briquetted and sold as fuel. As a result of the financial incentives from CO2 removal certificates, Premier Forest has found new markets for the char. It is now sold to a compost supplier who mixes the biochar with compost and sells it as a garden soil improver.
This project was co-developed with Javelin Global Commodities. Javelin is an international bulk commodities trader, pioneering development in alternative green commodities and supporting the decarbonisation pathways for partners in the hardest to abate sectors.
The project is now verified and produces around 300 CORCs per year.
Soil improvement for agriculture and urban environments
Biochar is deployed directly or indirectly for soil improvement. It dramatically increases water and nutrient retention in the soil leading to yield increases.
Biochar reduces nutrient leaching, which has caused damage to waterways and seas. Biochar reduces the need for artificial fertilizers, which are typically energy-intensive to produce.
Green jobs: The production of biochar creates green jobs throughout the value chain from harvesting to distribution and usage.
The baseline scenario for the usage of wood waste is combustion or landfilling. In other words, in the absence of Premier Forest's production, the wood waste used as feedstock would be burnt or landfilled resulting in the release of CO2 and short-lived climate pollutants including soot, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds such as methane, thus contributing to global warming.
The extra income from CORCs allows Premier Forest to develop and grow the business and acts as a strong incentive to increase biochar production. The company has plans to scale up operations at the site given that they are able sell the biochar, and CORCs. Revenue from the sales of CORCs is an important part of their business case for future investment. The revenue from CORCs was essential in the decision to switch the sales of biochar from fuels to soil amendment.