The export of wood pellets from North America to Europe has reached a new record reports TEATRO NATURALE INTERNATIONAL. European electrical utilities are importing substituting wood pellets for coal in order to meet European greenhouse gas emission standards. The export value of North American pellets  has increased from 40 million dollars in 2004 to almost 400 million dollars in 2012. A record volume of 3.2 million tons of pellets was exported from North America to Europe in 2012, according to the North American Wood Fiber Review. . From the US South, shipments were up 100% compared to 2011, while Canadian exports from British Columbia increased 25% in that same time frame. With limited domestic wood raw-material sources, countries such as the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands have increasingly relied on the importation of industrial wood pellets to reduce the usage of coal at some of their power utilities.

In a related post the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development says Europe’s green policies are creating timber management concerns in the US.

Forests in the US are being wiped out at an alarming rate as the US moves to boost wood product exports to feed European power stations, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. According to the report, the expansion in trade is driven by the European Union’s attempt to achieve its goal of deriving 20 percent of its energy needs from renewables by 2020.

Because strict European regulations prohibit the cutting of old-growth and wetland forests, as well as the practice of clear-cutting, the EU is looking for new sources of wood products in areas such as North Carolina in the US.

The article tells us that EU policy makers believe trees will regrow and recapture the carbon released in the burning of wood pellets, making the process supposedly carbon-neutral.   US environmentalists, however, are concerned that the cutting of vast forests to meet European electricity demand is releasing more carbon than is being saved from less use of coal.  Moreover, a 100 year old forest needs about a century to regrow to the original size. See also MONGABAY, Southern U.S. logging soars to meet foreign biofuel demand.

wood pellet manufacturer Enviva LP

 

Meanwhile, we learn that more wood pellet plants are opening or planned for the US South.

wood pellet manufacturer Enviva LP
wood pellet manufacturer Enviva LP

Wood pellet manufacturer Enviva LP has opened a 500,000 metric ton wood pellet plant in the US state of North Carolina according to Biomass Magazine. The Northampton County plant is exporting the pellets to Europe from Enviva’s Port of Chesapeake export terminal near Norfolk, Virgina. The company has a twin plant under construction in Southampton County in the state.  In addition to these plants, Enviva has a wood pellet plant in the same state in Ahoskie as well as two pellet plants in the state of Mississippi and leases export terminal space in the Port of Mobile, Alabama. When the Southampton plant is complete, the company will be able to export 1.4 metric tons per year to Europe.

exported to Europe via Enviva’s Port of Chesapeake export terminal outside of Norfolk, Va. – See more at: http://www.biomassmagazine.com/articles/9027/enviva-opens-500-000-metric-ton-pellet-plant-in-n-c#sthash.hq6Y8Exv.dpuf
wood pellet manufacturer Enviva LP
wood pellet manufacturer Enviva LP

From the same source we learn that another wood pellet plant is under consideration in the US South. Enova Energy has signed a Letter of Intent with the St. Joe Company in the state of Florida to use the port and the AN Railway to ship a minimum of 1 million metric tons of wood pellets to Europe. Enova intends to break ground on its first two pellet plants in Florida within the next 60 days and has plans for more pellet plants in future. The Port of Port St. Joe offers access to bulk cargo shipments, access to rail, the US Gulf Intercoastal Waterway and state and US Highways. Enova has a biomass power plant under development in the state of Connecticut, that will begin operations during at the end of this year.

Enova Energy group signed a Letter of Intent with the St. Joe Company in Florida to use the port and the AN Railway to ship wood pellets overseas, a minimum of 1 million metric tons – See more at: http://www.biomassmagazine.com/blog/article/2013/06/another-port-and-pellet-pact#sthash.uhwl8nPA.dpuf

IHB writes about German Pellets GmbH, the largest producer of wood pellets worldwide. Its success is due to the strong demand for wood pellets in almost all Western European countries. The demand for the company’s product is not just from the power generating sector in the UK, but also from residential and business demand for heating in Germany, Austria, Denmark, Italy and Belgium. According to the post, the future for wood pellets is bright:

The global pellet market continues to offer good growth opportunities. Pöyry Management Consulting concludes that the demand for pellets is growing by approximately 15% p.a. on average, and is set to reach 58 million tonnes in 2020. Key drivers in the private-customer sector are pellets’ price advantage compared to fossil-based fuels (up to 40% in relation to oil and gas) and the trend towards sustainable and crisis-proof supply of heating.

The same source informs us German Pellets has recently opened a large wood pellet manufacturing plant in the US state of Texas. The Woodville plant has an annual capacity of 578,000 tons. In the harbor of Port Arthur, Texas, the company is near completion of a  pellet storage and a loading terminal for transporting  pellets to Europe. The construction of a second wood pellet plant in the state of Louisiana will begin shortly. Advance long-term supply contracts have been signed with major European electricity utilities for both plants.

exported to Europe via Enviva’s Port of Chesapeake export terminal outside of Norfolk, Va. – See more at: http://www.biomassmagazine.com/articles/9027/enviva-opens-500-000-metric-ton-pellet-plant-in-n-c#sthash.hq6Y8Exv.dpuf

Biomass Magazine brings our attention to a white paper on the Asian biocoal market. International consulting and engineering company Pöyry PLC has published a white paper on biocoal market potential in Asia. The report, titled Biocaol—Bioenergy Game Changer in Asia? explores what role biocoal production technologies might have in the Asian bioenergy industry. Pöyry forecasts that the wood pellet market will reach 60 million tons globally by 2020, and that the share of biocoal in meeting that demand will depend on the development and commercialization of processing technology that takes place in the near term. As we have seen, while the demand for biomass fuel is highest in Europe to meet the EU’s green mandates, the white paper states there is significant potential for growth in Asia. Japan and South Korea combined have 62,000 MW of coal-fired power generation. Just a 10% cofiring share at these plants would equate to a demand for 22 million metric tons of wood pellets. The white paper compares and contrasts the relative costs and benefits with wood pellet and densified biocoal production in the Asian market. Considering the current status of technology development, equipment costs and higher energy demand currently make biocoal pellets more expensive to produce than wood pellets. However, Pöyry says lower retrofitting cost for electric power plants along with lower logistics and handling costs could favor biocoal pellets.

International consulting and engineering company Pöyry PLC has published a white paper on biocoal market potential in Asia. The report, titled “Biocaol—Bioenergy Game Changer in Asia?” explores what role biocoal production technologies might have in the Asian bioenergy industry. – See more at: http://www.biomassmagazine.com/articles/9102/white-paper-addresses-asian-biocoal-market#sthash.bUcK9lNQ.dpuf

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