U.S. Keeping up with European Biomass Demand

The U.S. has some of the best biomass resources in the world. The ironic thing is, we ship a lot of it over to Europe, where they put it to good use for heat and electricity.

Most European countries have far fewer biomass than the U.S., particularly in the Northwest, Northeast and Southeast. Yet countries in the EU have much larger, more sophisticated markets.

In the last decade, Southeastern states like South Carolina, Alabama and Florida have been building plants capable of producing hundreds of thousands of pellets a year. A large portion of those pellets have been going across the Altlantic to Europe. In 2009, Europe imported about $250 million worth of pellets from the U.S., Australia and Vietnam.

A recent agreement between the pellet maker Enviva Materials and the large French utility GDF Suez for 480,000 metric tons of wood pellets is another example of this trend. The pellets will be used for an electric power plant in Belgium.

American pellet producers and equipment sellers are starting to see more demand for biomass in the U.S. But with virtually no attention paid to the renewable heating market in the country, Europe will likely continue to lead in the adoption of residential and utility-scale biomass heating and electricity.

So while the Europeans rely on Americans for their biomass, the Americans rely on the Europeans for high-quality technologies. It’s truly a global market.

Want to take a look into one of the largest wood pellet companies in the country? New England Wood Pellet opens its doors for us in the video below.

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I am a reporter with ClimateProgress.org, a blog published by the Center for American Progress. I am former editor and producer for RenewableEnergyWorld.com, where I contributed stories and hosted the Inside Renewable Energy Podcast. Keep in touch through twitter! My profile name is: Stphn_Lacey

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