Biomass Magazine gives us a glimpse of the US and European wood pellet heating market. The US currently has about 845,000 wood pellet stoves that create demand for about 2.33 million tons of pellets annually. Analysts project that 50,000 to 60,000 stoves will be added annually in the next few years. In the US the demand for wood pellets is inversely related to the demand (and hence price) of natural gas. The global market for wood pellets last year was estimated at 22.4 million metric tons. Europe is almost self-sufficient in pellet production at about 12 million tons with North American production coming in at half that of Europe and Russia, the next largest. The United Kingdom is the largest European importer bringing in 855,000 metric tons from Canada last year and another 475,000 metric tons from the US. The US is the biggest supplier to the Netherlands and Belgium. Denmark and Sweden receive most of their imported pellets from Russia. Heat comprises 40% of the European pellet usage as they are 30% less expensive than heating oil. Italy is showing the most rapid pellet for heating growth currently, having added more than 1 million pellet stoves in recent years. Consumption is expected to exceed production in both Austria and Germany this year, which will add to import demand for wood pellets.
The same source looks at wood pellet production and consumption in Canada. Last year Canada hosted 42 pellet plants with a combined capacity of 3 million metric tons. Approximately 65% of that capacity was located in the west coast province of British Columbia. Capacity is expected to reach 46 plants and 3.7 million tons this year. Canadian pellet producers utilized approximately 66% of production capacity in recent years, producing 2 million tons of pellets in 2012. Production is expected to reach 2.5 million tons this year and increase to 3.2 million metric tons in 2014. 1.4 million metric tons of pellets were imported last year. Exports are expected to increase to 1.8 million tons this year, and 2.2 million metric tons next year. In a related post, ConBio tells us a wood pellet plant has started production in Middle Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia. The plant is expected to ship 25,000 tons to Europe in December. The facility has a production capacity of 120,000 tons most of which will be sold to electric utilities and industrial consumers of wood pellets in Europe. See also The Chronicle Herald, Pellet production begins at Viridis Energy plant.
WITN says the US state of North Carolina is getting another wood pellet export port. Morehead City has been given approval for a facility to receive, store and load wood pellets destined for Europe. The State Ports Authority expects the first shipment will take place next year. Earlier this year, the authority agreed to allow a similar facility at the port in Wilmington.
In Shaping Up to Ship Out Biomass Magazine looks at the activity at 7 ports in the southeastern US that are gearing up to supply wood pellets to meet European demand.
From Florida to Georgia to Louisiana, ports and producers are joining forces to satisfy overseas pellet demand, largely prompted by foreign environmental policy and renewable energy incentives.
Swedish forestry company RusForest is building a wood pellet plant in Arkhangelsk, Russia. Lesprom informs us the 100,000 ton capacity facility will export the pellets to Europe starting next year. The plant will use wood by-products form the company’s adjacent saw mill.
The International Energy Agency reports that biomass supplies 10% of global energy demand. Two-thirds of all biomass is used in developing countries for cooking and heating. Of the remaining biomass, 13% is used for heat and power generation, while the industrial sector consumes 15% and transportation 4%. Excluding domestic cooking and heating use, the top countries utilizing all sources of biomass for energy were Brazil, the US and India.
From The Baltic Times we learn that Latvia has its first large-scale biomass combined heat and power plant. Located in Jelgava, the facility uses biomass as fuel and will provide district heating to the residents and businesses in Jelgava as well as electricity to the electricity market. The new plant covers approximately 85% of the city’s district heating demand. The production capacity of the plant is 23 MW for electricity and 45 MW for heat. The plant will produce approximately 110 GWh of electricity and 230 GWh of heat per year. It currently uses wood chips as fuel but has the potential to use other solid renewables, like peat and wood residues.