As the world works to replace fossil fuels, wood pellets are playing a key role in decarbonizing power grids. European nations, in particular, have invested heavily in pellets for both heating and electricity generation. To supply this increased demand, global trade in pellets has doubled since 2012, with U.S., Canadian and European producers all playing a role. How this supply stream may evolve is the focus of the European Pellet Supply and Cost Analysis, a new study from RISI, an information provider for the global forest products industry.
Pellet Mill Magazine reviews Asian wood pellet production,export and import markets of Thailand, Indonesia, China, Malaysia and South Korea.
By Ron Kotrba | November 16, 2016
…In 2014, Thailand exported nearly 111,000 metric tons of wood pellets, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Statistics Division (FAOSTAT). In 2015, however, Thai exports of wood pellets dropped considerably, to 25,429 tons. Contributing to Thai wood pellet exports to Japan and South Korea is BioPellets Thailand Co. Ltd. …According to FAOSTAT, Thailand’s cumulative wood pellet production has grown from 20,000 tons in 2013 to 115,000 tons in 2015.
…FAOSTAT data show that Indonesian wood pellet manufacturing doubled from 2013 to 2014, jumping from 40,000 tons to 80,000 tons in a year. Data estimates suggest a leveling off in Indonesian wood pellet production in 2015, remaining at 80,000 tons. In total, Indonesia exported slightly more than 37,000 tons in 2013, more than doubling to nearly 76,000 tons in 2014, with FAOSTAT estimates at roughly the same tonnage for 2015. A majority of Indonesian wood pellet exports are going to South Korea.
…China’s wood pellet production nearly doubled from 2013 to 2014, from 200,000 to 370,000 tons, according to FAOSTAT data. While 2015 production estimates show a leveling off, the country’s exportation of wood pellets skyrocketed from 2013 to 2014, jumping from a mere 3,293 tons in 2013 to 165,654 tons in 2014. Nearly all of the increase in production from 200,000 to 370,000 tons from 2013 to 2014 went to exports. However, though Chinese exports hit record highs in 2014, they nosedived a year later. In 2015, Chinese exports sank to 52,025 tons. According to an Argus Biomass Markets report, this marked reduction in Chinese exports was in large part due to cheaper Vietnamese competition carving out market share in the demanding South Korean pellet market.
…South Korea imports rallied from 122,447 tons in 2012 to 484,668 tons in 2013 to an impressive 1.85 million tons in 2014, according to official FAOSTAT data. Imports backed off in 2015, down to 1.47 million tons. Domestic production estimates are stagnant from 2012-‘15 at 15,000 tons annually.
As wood pellet imports in Japan begin to accelerate, industry professionals offer cautious optimism that an Asian market opportunity for North American producers has arrived.
In July, Japan imported 52,000 tons of wood pellets, eclipsing the previous monthly high of 51, 500 tons set in December 2015. Additionally, monthly volumes in 2016 have been more consistent in contrast to the peaks and valleys that defined 2014 and 2015. As a result, Japan is expected to finish 2016 having imported between 350,000 and 400,000 tons of wood pellets and producers around the world are optimistic that Japan’s wood pellet demand is set to rise steadily to 1 million tons per year within the next handful of years.
The standstill agreement on softwood lumber trade expired recently, leaving Canadians holding their breath for the U.S. Lumber Coalition to launch legal proceedings.
In the calm before the storm of the next Canada-U.S. softwood lumber dispute, speculation about how the issue will unfold has crystallized around two options: a tax or a quota. The differences may appear merely technical, but they would mean vastly different things economically.
While a quota would impose a cap on exports to the United States, a tax would allow the level of exports to fluctuate with U.S. consumers’ willingness to pay for Canadian lumber. In other words, as U.S. lumber prices increase, Canadian lumber would still be able to enter the U.S. market to meet demand.
A group of conservation scientists and policy makers led by University of Adelaide researchers are calling for global action to combat the illegal timber trade.
They say governments and organisations responsible for protecting wildlife and forests around the world and certification schemes need to “catch up with the science” and put in place policies and frameworks to ensure the legality of timber being logged and traded around the world.
Consumers, too, need to play their part in demanding verification of the origin and legality of the timber items they buy, they say.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-11-global-action-illegal-timber.html#jCp
Wood pellet imports to the U.K. fell 24 percent year-over-year in August after record high imports during the first half of 2016, but are expected to reach a new all-time high this year, according to the North American Wood Fiber Review.
Hundreds of food companies have promised to keep their suppliers from cutting down forests. A global coalition of environmental groups is watching to see if the companies are keeping their promises.
Maine is poised to finally begin shipping wood chips to Europe for power generation next year if plans underway at Eastport and Searsport stay on schedule.
After years of false starts, these developments would be especially welcome now, as the ongoing decline of the paper and in-state biomass power industries has hit hundreds of loggers and truckers who used to harvest and move fiber to Maine mills and generators. The value of U.S.-based wood fuel sent to the European Union in 2015 exceeded $684 million, according to export research firm WISERtrade, but none of it came from Maine.
The state’s first opportunity could come next year in Eastport, where the port authority has been working on export plans since 2009. A company it has partnered with is building special equipment that processes the chips to standards required in Europe. Chris Gardner, the authority’s director, said that while the equipment may be ready by year’s end, he thinks it’s more realistic to begin exporting wood chips in 2017.
With the U.S. Lumber Coalition free to file a new trade case against Canadian lumber producers as early as October 13, share prices across the sector are expected to come under pressure.
The tariff barriers imposed on Canadian softwood lumber cost American consumers a fortune, all while enriching a limited group of producers, shows a Viewpoint published today by the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI), a Canadian public policy research center.
Since the entry into force of the latest Softwood Lumber Agreement between Canada and the United States, tariffs at the border have reduced Canadian exports and have allowed American producers to increase their market shares. The latter thus registered additional net earnings of US$4.31 billion between 2006 and 2015.
American consumers, however, are the big losers of this deal. Since the Canadian lumber targeted by the Agreement is used primarily for residential construction on the American market, American consumers have had to get their wood from an alternative and more expensive source.