Regulatory Impact Statement: National Approach to Firewood Collection and Use in Australia

Environment Australia, 2001

Strategy 6. Firewood Use Efficiency and Alternative Fuels

The objective of this strategy is to reduce demand for firewood from woodland species through improving the efficiency of firewood use in woodheaters and facilitating the use of alternative fuel sources, while ensuring that air quality is not compromised.

Proposed actions include:

  • Introduce a national 'star rating' labelling scheme for woodheaters.
  • Investigate the incorporation of an energy efficiency standard into the Australian Standards for Woodheaters
  • Assess scope and design elements of a woodheater replacement scheme.
  • Support actions that improve the energy efficiency of domestic homes.
  • Consider further need to educate consumers about efficient operation of woodheaters.
  • Adopt appropriate regulatory, education or other strategies for limiting moisture content of firewood.
  • Subject to air quality considerations, implement measures to promote the certification of woodheaters for use with softwoods and manufactured fuels.
  • Investigate air quality impact of using softwoods and manufactured fuels in existing woodheaters.

A qualitative assessment of potential impacts of these actions on Governments, woodheater industry (manufacturers & retailers), firewood merchants, and consumers and environmental values follows:

Action

Introduce a national 'star rating' labelling scheme for woodheaters.

Impact on Government

  • Probably have to bear some of the costs of introducing and promoting such a scheme.

Impact on Woodheater Industry

  • Manufacturers of inefficient and polluting woodheaters would lose market share, while efficient and clean woodheater manufacturers would gain share.

Impact on Merchants

  • Relatively small but maybe required to provide more information on quality of firewood if consumer awareness is raised by the star rating system.

Impact on Consumers

  • Much increased ability to decide on the efficiency of air quality impact of woodheaters.

Impact on Environment

  • Given the slow turnover rate of woodheaters benefits to biodiversity and air quality will be long term

Action

Investigate the incorporation of an energy efficiency standard into the Australian Standards for Woodheaters

Impact on Government

  • Some resources will be needed to negotiate a change to the Australian Standard.

Impact on Woodheater Industry

  • Manufacturers of inefficient woodheaters would need to modify their woodheater designs to meet the standard and then pay to have them re-tested.

Impact on Merchants

  • In the long term, a possible reduction in firewood demand.

Impact on Consumers

  • Increased efficiency would result in reduced running costs of woodheaters.

Impact on Environment

  • Given the slow turnover rate of woodheaters benefits to biodiversity will be long term.

Action

Assess scope and design elements of a woodheater replacement scheme.

Impact on Government

  • Governments will bear the full cost of this study.

Impact on Woodheater Industry

  • No immediate impact. A woodheater replacement scheme that resulted in a reduction of woodheaters would directly impact the industry where implemented.

Impact on Merchants

  • Little direct impact but in the long term if the scheme is implemented successfully some merchant's business may be threatened if the study results in a move away from woodheating.

Impact on Consumers

  • If incentives are provided following this study then some consumers may volunteer to move to more efficient less environmentally damaging forms of heating.

Impact on Environment

  • May result in local reduction in amount of firewood harvested and associated biodiversity loss and improved air quality.

Action

Support actions that improve the energy efficiency of domestic homes.

Impact on Government

  • Governments will bear the costs of any new support to energy efficiency schemes.

Impact on Woodheater Industry

  • May result in a reduced demand for woodheaters.

Impact on Merchants

  • Demand for firewood could reduce in the long term.

Impact on Consumers

  • Reduced energy costs.

Impact on Environment

  • May result in local reduction in amount of firewood harvested and associated biodiversity loss and improved air quality.

Action

Consider further need to educate consumers about efficient operation of woodheaters.

Impact on Government

  • Government will bear the cost of any education campaigns.

Impact on Woodheater Industry

  • Improved use of woodheaters will lead to less complaints about woodheaters and an improved profile for the industry.

Impact on Merchants

  • As efficient use of woodheater requires well seasoned timber, more educated consumers may be more demanding of better quality firewood.

Impact on Consumers

  • Improved burning efficiency with better quality timber and overall better health due to reduced emissions.

Impact on Environment

  • May result in local reduction in amount of firewood harvested and associated biodiversity loss and improved air quality.

Action

Adopt appropriate regulatory, education or other strategies for limiting moisture content of firewood.

Impact on Government

  • Government would bear the costs of any education campaign or regulation development and implementation.

Impact on Woodheater Industry

  • Improved use of seasoned wood will lead to less complaints about woodheaters and an improved profile for the industry.

Impact on Merchants

  • More educated consumers may be more demanding of better quality firewood.

Impact on Consumers

  • Improved burning efficiency with better quality timber and overall better health due to reduced emissions

Impact on Environment

  • May result in local reduction in amount of firewood harvested and associated biodiversity loss and improved air quality.

Action

Subject to air quality considerations, implement measures to promote the certification of woodheaters for use with softwoods and manufactured fuels.

Impact on Government

  • Government will have to promote certification of wood heaters for softwood and manufactured fuels. Government may have to cover some of the cost or provide tax incentives for woodheater manufactures to certify woodheaters for softwood. May also be financial benefits to for state owned softwood plantations as market for thinnings will grow.

Impact on Woodheater Industry

  • Costs to woodheater manufacturers would double (from ∼$5 000 to $10 000) as they will need to certify their heaters for use for two fuel types rather than one. Some woodheaters models may need to be redesigned to enable to efficiently and cleanly burn softwoods.

Impact on Merchants

  • Opportunities for many merchants to sell softwood thinnings, offcuts etc.

Impact on Consumers

  • Greater source of environmentally friendly firewood. There will be substantial consumer resistance to using softwood due to entrenched attitudes (see consultation).

Impact on Environment

  • Pressure taken off native firewood resources if plantation softwood widely used.

Action

Investigate air quality impacts of using softwoods and manufactured fuels in existing woodheaters

Impact on Government

  • Government will have to cover the costs of assessing air emissions from existing heaters and educating the public about burning softwoods.

Impact on Woodheater Industry

  • No impact.

Impact on Merchants

  • Opportunities for many merchants to sell softwood thinnings, offcuts etc.

Impact on Consumers

  • Greater source of environmentally friendly firewood but there will be substantial consumer resistance to using softwood due to entrenched attitudes (see consultation).

Impact on Environment

  • Pressure taken off native firewood resources if plantation softwood widely used.