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Pulp and paper increase biomass fuel use

Feb. 23, 2010, Seattle, WA – Over the past few years, there has been rapid, worldwide expansion in the consumption of renewable energy by the pulp and paper industry.


February 23, 2010
By Hakan Ekstrom | Wood Resources International

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Feb. 23, 2010, Seattle, WA – Over the past few years, there has been rapid,
worldwide expansion in the consumption of renewable energy by the pulp and
paper industry. Numerous pulp and paper plants have made the strategic decision
to invest in the equipment needed to make the switch from fossil fuels to woody
biomass fuels. The global consumption of biomass increased by 51% between 2006
and 2009, according to an analysis done with FisherSolve (Fisher International).

The annual consumption of biomass used for energy generation by the global pulp industry
in 2009 was an estimated 75 million tons. Although the largest increases have
occurred in Latin America and Asia/Oceania, mills in North America and Europe
are still the biggest users of biomass. Not surprisingly, the leading biomass
consuming countries by volume are regions that have large forested areas,
including Canada, USA, Brazil, and Sweden. Perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, pulp
mills in Finland, New Zealand, Australia, France, and Germany have consumed
fairly small volumes of biomass up until now, as reported in the Wood Resource
Quarterly.

As a percentage of total energy usage, the share of energy generated from biomass
has increased from 16% in 2006 to 18% in 2009 on a global basis. Norway and
Sweden took the lead in biomass use at 42% and 38%, respectively, followed by
Canada, Brazil, and New Zealand. At the other end of the spectrum are China,
Australia, Japan, Spain, and Germany, all of which are countries where pulp
mills used less than 10% renewable energy on average last year.

Another interesting development is that with the increased use of bark and wood fiber
for energy, pulp mills have expanded their external sourcing of biomass. In
2006, 53% of woody biomass was purchased in the open market; in 2009, this
share had increased to 69%. Pulp and paper mills in Latin America and
Asia/Oceania were generally less reliant on purchased biomass than were plants
in Europe and North America.


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