Baseload, Bioenergy

Global Pellets Production Surged in 2014, New Report Says

Data released at the end of last year by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations show that in 2014 wood pellets production increased a record 16 percent or 3 million metric tons.

In contrast to the trends for wood fuel and charcoal, production and trade in wood pellets surged, mainly driven by demand created by adoption of bioenergy use targets in Europe, FAO said in its 2014 Global Forest Products report, released on Dec. 18, 2015.

“Wood industries were among the hardest hit by the recent global economic downturn in 2008-2009,” Thais Linhares-Juvenal, head of the FAO’s forest economics and statistics team, said in a statement. “We are seeing now the highest growth of the global wood industries in the last five years, which is important to national economies and the well-being and livelihoods of millions of forest-dependent people worldwide.”

Nearly all pellet production was concentrated in Europe and North America, according to the report. European production accounted for 61 percent of the global total, and North America accounted for 33 percent. Other producing regions included Asia-Pacific at 5 percent and Latin America, Caribbean and Africa at 1 percent.

The five largest pellets producers in 2014 were the U.S. at 6.9 million metric tons, Germany at 2.1 million metric tons, Canada at 1.9 million metric tons, Sweden at 1.6 million metric tons, and Latvia at 1.3 million metric tons, the report said. Together, production in those countries accounted for 52 percent of global production. In addition, three of the five largest pellets producers – the U.S., Canada and Latvia – are also the largest exporters, joined by the Russian Federation and Portugal. Together, those five countries exported 9 million metric tons (58 percent of global exports) in 2014.

According to the report, 55 percent of production was exported in 2014. Exports increased from 13 million metric tons in 2013 to 15 million metric tons in 2014. Net trade between the regions grew as well, the report said. North America is a net exporting region, with net exports of 5 million metric tons in 2014, while Europe and Asia-Pacific are net importers, with net imports of 4 million metric tons and 1 million metric tons respectively for the year.

The top five consumers of pellets in 2014 were U.K., U.S., Denmark, Italy and Sweden, the report said. Total consumption in those five countries amounted to 14 million metric tons in 2014, or 55 percent of global consumption.

Lead image: Stove and pellets. Credit: Shutterstock.