By Katja Schroeder, Expedition PR
In the midst of a large forest in North Rhine-Westphalia, nearby Olsberg, is I.D.E.E., an information center for renewable energies. The center’s mission is to educate the public and businesses about the use of wood fuel, solar energy and other renewable energy sources.
To phase out nuclear power by the end of 2022, Germany has increased its investment in renewable energies, solar, wind and biomass. The use of wood, specifically wood pellets, as an energy source has gained in importance and created new socioeconomic opportunities for areas with large forests. Pellet fuels are heating fuels made from compressed biomass. The most common type are wood pellets, often made from compacted sawdust or sawmilling and wood production waste.
North Rhine-Westphalia has emerged as a leading hub for pellet sourcing and production. The State boasts the country’s largest forestry and wood cluster according to the State Enterprise for Forestry and Timber. More than 280,000 wood pellet stoves were in German households and businesses in 2012, using 1.7 million tons pellets per year. According to the German Pellet Institute (DEPI) the number of ovens can easily be increased to 1 million based on the available resources and technology advancements for energy-efficient heating.
Global demand and opportunity for wood as an energy source is rising too.
According to the International Energy Agency Task 40, wood pellet production has more than doubled between 2006 and 2010 to over 14 million tons. The Biomass Energy Resource Center issued a report in 2012 saying that it expects wood pellet production in North America to double again in the next five years. In fact, North American wood pellet exports reached a new record of over one million tons in the first quarter of 2013, according to the North American Wood Fiber Review. The global market growth is driven by the competitiveness of wood pellets compared to conventional fossil fuels, such as natural gas and oil. Consumption is expected to exceed production in both Austria and Germany this year, which will add to import demand.
This is good news for wood pellet manufacturers on both sides of the Atlantic.
This year the German producer German Pellets started construction for a 1 million-metric ton plant in Louisiana. The company already has a plant in Texas. German Pellets will export production from the new facility, especially to Europe to meet rising demand. German Pellets operates 14 pellet plants throughout Germany and Austria.
Europe will continue as the largest source of demand, with markets also emerging in Asia. The market growth is not only driven by households, but also by SMEs who are looking for more sustainable and cost-efficient heating solutions. To meet rising demand, sustainable forestry and production is a key requirement.
The European Pellet Council adopted the certification system ENplus in January 2011. The certification sets high requirements on pellet quality and sustainability. Pellets can only be sold as ENplus pellets when every actor in the supply chain (pellet producer, traders, and retailers) is individually certified. Approximately 80% of the German pellet production is ENplus certified by DEPI.
The possibility to increase production in a sustainable way is there, now only more consumers and businesses need to learn about the advantages of wood pellet heating.
Poyry Global Pellet Consumption