Wood pellet production in the EU and UK last year reached almost 18 million tonnes, 5% greater than in 2018, according to the latest chapter of Bioenergy Europe’s annual statistical report.
Across the whole of Europe, 22Mt was produced, with Germany alone supplying 2.8Mt – up 16.8% in one year.
In second place, Russia produced 2.1Mt – close to the sum of all European production in 2004. Sweden, Latvia and France followed, each producing some 1.6Mt.
Bioenergy Europe said Europe’s wood pellet market for residential heating is growing, “creating local jobs/value and is offering a solution to mitigate air pollution in many countries through the increasing use of modern and efficient biomass appliances”.
“Promoting pellet production is particularly important right now, as climate change-led natural disturbances such as forest fires and pests are widespread. In some cases, sanitising cuttings and harvesting residues from forests can help mitigate the propagation of such natural disturbances,” the report added.
At 8.5Mt, the UK was by far the largest industrial consumer of pellets last year, with consumption rising by 8.9%, driven by demand from large-scale bioenergy installations. Denmark and Belgium were the next biggest consumers, at 2Mt and 1Mt respectively.
As may be expected, the picture for residential, commercial and combined heat and power (CHP) consumption was very different. Of the 17.5Mt of wood pellets used across the continent, 3.4Mt was consumed by Italy, almost exclusively for home heating, 2.3Mt by Denmark and 2.3Mt by Germany.
In a foreword to the report, European Pellet Council general manager Gilles Gauthier discussed how the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the industry.
“Luckily, it appeared that beyond being a mainly local, sustainable and affordable industry, our sector is also very resilient,” he wrote, with the disease having “no dramatic impact” thanks to the automated nature of pellet production and that several countries exempted it from lockdown measures as an indispensable industrial activity. The construction and installation of pellet-burning appliances was also affected only slightly, he added.
There are also encouraging signs for the future, with the residential market “showing a very positive development as many governments are phasing out the use of heating oil” and ENplus certifications reaching 1,000 this year, Gauthier wrote.