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Germany faces wood supply bottlenecks: forecast

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Germany faces wood supply bottlenecks: forecast
More than two-thirds of German biomass cogeneration plant operators expect bottlenecks when it comes to future wood supply.


November 30, 2010
By Argus Media

Nov. 30, 2010, Hanover, Germany – More than
two-thirds of German biomass cogeneration plant operators expect bottlenecks
when it comes to future wood supply, a study by Bremen-based Trend:research
suggests. The main trends in Germany's wood energy market, German biomass plant
operators say, are rising competition, rising prices, and supply difficulties,
according to a survey conducted by Trend:research. Competition is particularly
fierce when it comes to waste wood, the survey suggests.

Approximately half of Germany's available
timber is used for energy purposes, with most larger biomass-fired cogeneration
plants using waste wood or leftover wood. This type of wood is becoming scarce.
Furthermore, imports of waste or leftover wood are expected to decrease. This
will increasingly push the use of residual forest wood, landscape conservation
wood, and raw wood no longer processed into solid wood or sawn timber.

The use of wood for energy in Germany will
rise to almost 80 million m³ by 2020, with the household heating market
accounting for around 37 million m³ and the heating and power plant market for
around 43 million m³. Co-firing, which is currently nonexistent, will see its
consumption increase to around 200,000 m³, according to Trend:research. At the
same time, demand for sawn timber or roundwood used for wood products will grow
at a much slower rate, leading to an oversupply in Germany. But using this roundwood
in biomass-fired plants would almost double their fuel costs. Exporting
superfluous sawn timber or wood products could be a solution; the demand and
prices paid for German sawn timer or wood products will influence import and
export movements.

Germany will need to import wood. In 2020,
the country will have a shortfall of 14 million to 20 million m³ of wood for
industry and energy, Trend:research forecasts. Even the expected surge in
so-called rotation crop plantations following the recent change in Germany's
forest law—to an estimated 126,000 hectares (1,260 km²) from 3,000 hectares
now—and the expected increase in logging to around 85 million m³ in 2020, will
not be sufficient to meet demand.


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