Benefit of Wood Pellets & Global Market May 2020
Worldwide, Energy consumption is growing at the rate of 1.6% each year and around 80% of the same is by fossil fuels. At the current rate of consumption, existing reserves will deplete in next 50-75 years.
Wood pellets offer a definite advantage over fossil fuels. They are produced from renewable materials such as wood shavings and saw dust and compared to fossil oil or natural gas, one can save about half of the expenses on fuel. Moreover, since wood absorbs the same quantity of CO2 from the atmosphere whilst growing as is emitted during combustion, wood fuels do not contribute to the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The Gross Calorific Value (GCV) of wood pellets is approximately 3500-4700 Kcal (14.6- 19.6 MJ). This combined with the High-efficiency wood pellet stoves and boilers make them an exceptionally economical fuel
Emissions such as NOx, SOx and volatile organic compounds from pellet burning equipment are in general very low in comparison to other forms of combustion heating. This PM2.5 emissions of older pellet stoves and boilers can be problematic in close quarters, especially in comparison to natural gas (or renewable biogas), though on large installations electrostatic precipitators, cyclonic separators, or baghouse particle filters can control particulates when properly maintained and operated. The new generation Gasifier based burners & stove have eliminated these issues as well.
Usage by region
Europe: Usage across Europe varies due to government regulations. In the Netherlands, Belgium, and the UK, pellets are used mainly in large-scale power plants. In Denmark and Sweden, pellets are used in large-scale power plants, medium-scale district heating systems, and small-scale residential heat. In Germany, Austria, Italy, and France, pellets are used mostly for small-scale residential and industrial heat.
Pellets are widely used in Sweden, the main pellet producer in Europe, mainly as an alternative to oil-fired central heating. In Austria, the leading market for pellet central heating furnaces (relative to its population), it is estimated that 2⁄3 of all new domestic heating furnaces are pellet burners. In Italy, a large market for automatically fed pellet stoves has developed. Italy's main usage for pellets is small-scale private residential and industrial boilers for heating.
In 2014 in Germany the overall wood pellet consumption per year comprised 2,2 mln tones. These pellets are consumed predominantly by residential small scale heating sector. The co-firing plants which use pellet sector for energy production are not widespread in the country. The largest amount of wood pellets is certified with DINplus and these are the pellets of the highest quality. As a rule, the pellets of lower quality are exported.
India: In 2019, India started co-firing biomass pellets in coal fired power stations around its capital city Delhi to reduce the air pollution caused by the stubble/biomass burning in open fields to clear the fields for sowing next crop. Plans are made to use biomass pellets for power generation throughout the country to utilize nearly 145 million tons of agricultural residue to replace equal quantity of imported coal in power generation.
New Zealand: The total sales of wood pellets in New Zealand was 3–500,000 tons in 2013. Recent construction of new wood pellet plants has given a huge increase in production capacity.
United States: Some companies import European-made boilers. As of 2009, about 800,000 Americans were using wood pellets for heat.
Japan: Japan's consumption of wood pellets continues to increase significantly in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011, as its government has targeted a “best energy mix” of roughly 4 GW of biomass-fired capacity by 2030. By then, Japanese demand for wood pellets will be upwards of 15 million tons per year—a staggering 3,000% increase from its consumption of roughly 500,000 tons in 2017.
In 2018, Japan was home to 145 operating pellet facilities that produced just 125,000 metric tons annually; most facilities produce between 100 and 1,000 tons annually. Canada has consistently been Japan’s largest supplier of wood pellets, accounting for approximately 71% of the imports in 2017. Asian suppliers Malaysia and Vietnam also have significant market share. Japan’s long-term strategy is to source high-quality pellets and sign long-term contracts with reliable producers in North America. This is evidenced by the number of recent announcements about long-term off-take agreements with North American producers: