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The DEFA estate accounts for approximately 29,000 acres of hills, forests and Glens. From this amazing natural resource the Department aims to support and maximise the benefits to health, wellbeing, biodiversity, the economy and our climate.

The forest estate is quantified at approximately 7000 acres, the majority of which was planted in the 60s, 70s and 80s and is coming up to maturity, with in aggregate over 500,000 tonnes of standing timber.

It is key to recreational development, climate mitigation through carbon storage and air purification but also provides a sustainable fuel source. This fuel source, wood, is converted into many products but is available as fuel in log form, slabwood bundles, points and off-cuts and most recently as biomass woodchip fuel.

The forest estate offers approximately 500,000 tonnes of sustainable timber and Government has established an indigenous, price stable fuel, which is not reliant on external energy markets or importation, at a cost-effective price.

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Why is woodchip a positive fuel for our Island?

  • Over 98% of all fuels in the Isle of Man are imported, including gas, heating oil, road fuels and solid fuel
  • Over 40% of all energy used by Isle of Man Government is for space heating
  • The price of conventional fuels has fluctuated significantly in recent years
  • It is part of a wider suite of energy policies and actions to address energy efficiency, energy generation, energy security and energy standards across Government
  • Costs for woodchip supplied from DEFA takes account of replanting, harvesting and machining costs, labour and transport
  • Lessons have been learnt from mistakes and quality has been improved with the biomass fuel now achieving a UK Quality Assurance badge
  • Competing fuels are reducing in availability and woodchip is a resource that is seeing developing technology and usage because of its sustainability of production
  • Current biomass delivered prices of energy range from 3.94-4.51p/kWh, which compares to a unit cost of natural gas 4.5-6p/kWh, heating oil 5-5.5p/kWh. Prices exclude VAT
  • Environmentally, locally produced biomass fuel offers a sustainable solution to reduce the Governments carbon footprint with emissions being approximately 10% of the equivalent carbon emissions from oil fuelled heating sources
  • The use of biomass in suitable public property meets Treasury Procurement Policy (May 2010) to buy local where feasible and make full use of Government’s own resources before buying externally
  • The policy realises additional financial value from forest areas which deliver visual and recreational amenity and thus offers sustainability in terms of fuel and amenity as well as being comparative in costs to alternative fuel sources for all involved
  • Locally produced biomass is a cost effective solution which secures local jobs and retains fiscal benefits on Island
  • It is not subject to price fluctuations, transport issues or depletion and does offer a sustainable, cost controlled, low carbon fuel 


From an emissions perspective the table below shows the different rates of carbon emissions when using biomass (from a renewable, replanted supply such as that used to produce Government’s biomass) as opposed to oil or gas to deliver space heating solutions.

Carbon Dioxide emissions are clearly very low and are based on the energy used to process and transport the fuel. This can be compared against an equivalent quantity of the other fuels required to produce the same heat load. 1000t and 4000t are shown as examples with the emissions shown in tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted.


Fuel type

CO2 emissions




1,000t woodchip/3.5GWh




4,000t woodchip/14GWh




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