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Germany Europe’s largest pellet producer in 2010
Written by Argus Media   
Feb. 3, 2011, Hanover, Germany – Germany continued as the leading wood pellet producer in Europe in 2010, according to the German Energy Pellet Association (Deutscher Energie Pellet Verband, DEPV). German pellet companies produced about 1.75 million tonnes of pellets in 2010, up by 9% (about 150,000 tonnes) from 2009. As in 2009, almost one-third of Germany's production (500,000 tonnes) was exported in 2010 because of a lack of demand in the domestic heating market. There are only about 140,000 pellet heating systems in Germany, DEPV says. “The heating market potential of the renewable energy source wood is far from being fully exploited in Germany,” says Martin Bentele, DEPV managing director.

German production capacity stood at 2.6 million tonnes in 2010, about 100,000 tonnes higher than in 2009. The DEPV predicts production of about 1.8 million tonnes in 2011, with 1.4 million tonnes consumed in Germany and 400,000 tonnes exported. It expects production capacity to rise by another 100,000 tonnes/year to 2.7 million tonnes/year.

German pellet makers focus on the heating sector, unlike the North American market, according to DEPV. Using pellets for heating is much more efficient than for generating electricity, it says.

The large supply of pellets meant that prices remained stable. Average prices stood at €225/tonne (USD$310/tonne) in 2010, with a maximum price fluctuation of just 7.5%. Pellets were about 40% cheaper than heating oil at the end of 2010. However, pellet producers suffered from high commodity prices in 2010, with the price for a tonne of sawdust rising by about 20% to up to €115/tonne over the course of the year, DEPV says.

There are around 60 pellet producers at 75 different locations in Germany. Pellets are mostly produced from byproducts of the sawmill industry, and mostly from coniferous wood. Around 85% of pellets were produced from sawdust in 2010, with around 15% produced from logs. Short rotational crops play no significant role yet in Germany, says DEPV.

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