Once upon a time, the leftover wood-waste from our forest and timber industries was left to rot or was thrown into landfills. The earth was sad to see such waste, but as the cost of traditional fossil fuels kept rising and rising, a few inspired people were beginning to think 'there must be a better way'....and so the pellet industry was born.
In 2003 Nature's Flame bought a small wood pellet mill and began to spread the word that wood pellets were the fuel of the future! We started in Rolleston, just outside of Christchurch, and soon the good people of Canterbury were reaping the benefits of warmer, drier homes, relaxing, comfortable heating options, and cleaner, more breathable air. But then the word started spreading, and we knew we had to let the rest of New Zealand in on our 'clean' little secret!
So in 2005 we opened a small wood pellet plant in Rotorua - near the heart of New Zealand's forestry industry. Not long after we got talking to the clever folk at Rotorua Girls' High School, as they wanted to know if wood pellets could heat their school. Of course, the answer was YES! So we got to work converting their coal burning boiler into a wood pellet burning boiler and they were thrilled with the results - warm staff and students, no big clouds of coal smoke blowing across the school, and the cleanest, shiniest boiler house in all the land (according to their caretaker!!). You can check out more of Rotorua Girls' High Schools journey to wood pellet happiness in this case study
At the same time, a forward thinking business in Christchurch, Radford Yarn Technologies, were assessing their options, having decided their power bills for generating process heat were getting out of control. After much consultation they became the first business in New Zealand to convert to using wood pellet fuel, and as a result, experienced a drop in their power bills, and increase in production, and received an EECA Award
to boot! You can read about their success story in this case study
With demand increasing within New Zealand for home heating as well as schools and businesses, plus a sharp jump in enquiries from off-shore to export our wood pellets, the need to expand further became obvious.
Taking the Mountain to Mohammed
In 2010 Nature's Flame opened the largest wood pellet plant in the Southern Hemisphere, right in the heart of the New Zealand timber industry - Taupo. With the raw fibre just a stone's throw from our front gate, and the international ports of Tauranga and Napier within easy driving distance, we set about making pellets with great gusto to service our customers near and far!
As a manufacturer of premium wood pellet fuel, we invited the most demanding, most robust assessor, DIN Certco, to appraise the quality of not only our fuel, but the process by which it is made, and we are very proud to say we have been awarded the DINplus certification for quality.
Wood pellets may be great, but we haven't yet discovered how to tell the future with them! However, we can tell you that while a number of our Northern Hemisphere export markets are experiencing some financial challenges, we are concentrating on our loyal home markets in New Zealand, as well as exploring opportunities throughout Australasia.
As a result of restructuring in 2012, Nature's Flame is now a stand-alone business which is a very exciting opportunity for us. As a result we made a number of changes which have increased our efficiency, decreased our costs, and helped us to re-focus ourselves on the needs of our customers.
For the time being we have put our Rotorua plant into Care & Maintenance as our larger Taupo plant allows us to achieve really great production efficiency and economies of scale. However, as the Rotorua plant was designed to be mobile, we are keeping our options open for where we might take it next. We have also closed our original plant in Rolleston as that staunch old lady was getting a little too long in the tooth and was experiencing a few too many 'senior moments' to keep her in active service. Parts of her still live on in the Taupo plant though and she will not be forgotten!
We believe wholeheartedly in helping New Zealanders enjoy affordable, convenient, sustainable heating experiences for their homes, schools and businesses and are excited to be part of providing such a fantastic, 100% Kiwi, solution for New Zealand's heating needs.