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International Conference for Wood Energy’s Leading Man
2012-09-24

The North East took a major role in the debate on alternative energy supplies last week, when Neil Harrison, of Northumberland company re:heat, addressed a European Conference on energy from wood.

Neil Harrison of re:heat

Neil Harrison of re:heat

Held in Jäneda, Estonia, Neil joined an eminent line up which included Elar Naito, Estonian Minister of Agriculture and Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, the Estonian Environment Minister.

Entitled "Wood for Energy Production", the event was this year’s Annual Conference of the Estonian Private Forestry Centre, and attracted forestry owners and experts from across the continent. Neil, who is a specialist advisor at the forefront of the wood energy industry presented: ‘Wood Energy in Europe - A UK Market Perspective’.

Neil then went on to spend the rest of the week in Brussels, where he put his decade of experience in the industry to work for the European Union. For the past 3 years he has been an advisor to the EU on their main support program for wood energy. Neil’s practical experience of this growing industry is extensive, having played a pioneering role in the wood energy sector in the UK and New Zealand, including writing the national standard training program for wood fuel production here in the UK.

During Neil’s presentation in Estonia, he shared his knowledge on wood energy trends, taking an in depth look at UK forestry and the UK wood energy industry. He also looked at the pioneering technology and knowledge that has been driving it as he explains:

“It was a privilege to be invited to speak at this key event for Baltic states, where heat and electricity from wood are increasing their lead over other forms of renewable energy production. It’s a trend we’ve also seen in the UK in recent years, as wood and other forms of biomass also produce the largest share of renewable energy here.”

The conference organisers were the Foundation Private Forest Centre, Rural Economy Research Centre and Estonian Private Forest Union. This group pioneers the increasing role of wood in energy management. The Conference discussed the resource sufficiency of Estonian forestry and what kind of support measures would contribute on the better usage of wood. Neil provided the conference with information about the new practices and initiatives within the UK.

Private forest owners, private forest owners’ cooperatives, forestry officers and experts, scientists, policy-makers, and representatives of local governments all took part.

re:heat

re:heat was established in May 2011, and formally launched in April 2012 when Neil Harrison and Ben Tansey went full-time with the company. Ben, a resident of Rothbury, and Neil, who lives just outside Alnmouth, have supported the growth of the UK woodfuel industry for a decade. Both have also worked for Northwoods - a Forestry Commission supported initiative to develop the forest industries in the north east.

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