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FOsteRing Efficient long term Supply parTnerships (FOREST)

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FOREST’s objective was to work directly with businesses in the biomass supply chain, from farmers and foresters to architects and designers, to develop and consolidate long-term supply partnerships to increase end-user confidence and so encourage greater investments in renewable biomass heat. The project supported businesses through three main types of activities: 1. Creation of a best practice tool-kit focused on supply chain business models and contracts; 2. Organisation of business-to-business networking events to facilitate knowledge exchange and the development of partnerships; 3. Development of direct capacity building to pilot new supply chain models and partnerships.

Results

  • The development of an extensive interactive online toolkit of best practice resources and training materials to support the development of more efficient supply chain businesses; These include a market structure and opportunities report, a contracts guide, a biomass and boilers standards guide and a specification guide for designers and architects.
  • Three regional trade fairs and six cross-regional business exchange visits to allow direct networking between businesses in the supply chain to exchange knowledge and foster the development of new supply partnerships, engaging more than 6.700 biobusiness. Some of these traid fairs will be maintained after the project lifetime.
  • Capacity building in the supply chains through training with the tool-kit materials and direct support actives to pilot new supply partnerships and help consolidate existing ones. Total number of trainees 682 and tailor advice provided to 93 business.
  • Support for the formation of networking associations and groups has resulted in the creation of local initiatives in Poland (Biomass in Pomerania initiative) and the UK (Devon based Supply Chain Group).
  • A comprehensive project website providing extensive access to all the tools and services developed in the project and supporting wider business networking activities and knowledge exchange.
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Lessons learned

  • Customers must have complete confidence in the whole of the supply chain (in terms of cost management, technological reliability, fuel security and sustainability) if they are to be convinced to adopt biomass over fossil fuels. Gas and oil markets (and coal) and installer networks are well established and consumers are reluctant to take risks with ‘new’ or unfamiliar technologies, particularly when a new heating system might be expected to last for 20 years or more.
  • Biomass often requires end users to engage with an extended supply chain and unfamiliar maintenance regimes. Businesses should be prepared to adapt the products and services to address customer concerns. In advanced markets ESCOs offer options for finance and heat contracts which include the operation and maintenance, removing the risk from end users. While ESCOs are far less common in immature markets, similar assurances can be provided through closer supply chain collaboration.
  • Developing the market for biomass cannot be achieved through supply side initiatives alone. Actions are also required on the demand side. Government incentives and grants, for example, can help to overcome initial capital costs, while carbon taxes and regulations can increase the relative costs of polluting technologies. At the same time awareness raising campaigns need to be maintained to keep consumers informed about the energy agenda.
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Partners and coordinator

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Contact

The University of Exeter
United Kingdom
Contact point: 
Name: 
Dr Guy Hitchcock
Tel: 
+44 1392 264141

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In brief

Duration:
27/05/2010 to 27/11/2012
Contract number: 
IEE/09/656/SI2.558320

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