Europe’s projected wood pellet growth will put pressure on raw material markets
April 14, 2021
By Wood Resources International LLC
Europes’s pellet industry is expected to show strong growth through to at least 2025, according to Wood Resources International.
Factors said to drive the growth include ambitious and rising targets for renewable energy supply in the European Union, the important role biomass plays in meeting those targets, and the advantages pellets provide over other forms of biomass in several applications.
About 75 per cent of the global demand for pellets comes from Europe. Pellets are used for residential heating, power plants, commercial heating, and combined heat and power plants.
According to a recent study, called European Wood Pellets – Where will the raw-material come from?, the increase in wood pellet consumption will put pressure on raw material markets in Europe and require new sources such as forest residues, recovered wood and energy crops.
Sawmill residues, which account for about 85 per cent of the mix, is the most crucial feedstock for the wood pellet sector. Roundwood accounts for 13 per cent while recovered wood represents two per cent. This mix is expected to change in the coming years with the forecasted expansion of the wood pellet industry.
The study suggests wood residues will remain an important feedstock, especially in northern and western Europe, but will not be sufficient to meet the future fibre demand from the growing wood pellet sector. New fibre sources are needed, and forest residues and energy crops are being recognized as the greatest potential for increased supply.
North America is showing that it is possible to use more forest residues as fibre furnish. It yields pellets with higher ash content, but is usually a lower-cost raw material than roundwood and wood chips. This is increasingly common in both the U.S. South, which exports pellets mainly to Europe, and Canada, which exports mainly to Europe and Asia. In Western Canada, the sawmill residue share of the total feedstock has fallen from 97 per cent in 2010 to 72 per cent in 2020, with the balance being forest residues and roundwood.
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