Focus on the pellet market

The pellet industry is now a global market witnessing growth both in production and consumption in many regions around the globe. In 2016, 28,9 million tonnes were produced globally. The EU-28, as the historic world leader, has strongly contributed to the growth of this sector but its position is increasingly contested by other regions, in particular, Asia where the industry is booming both in production and consumption.

The EU-28 produced 14,0 million tonnes of pellets providing for 65% of its own demand of 21,7 million tonnes in 2016. Therefore, most of the demand in the EU-28 is met by its domestic production. The rest of the pellets used in the EU are mainly sourced from North America. Other areas such as Russia and the CIS countries complete the pellet supply to the EU-28.

Wood pellet production areas are spread all over the EU Member States. The wood pellet sector therefore contributes to rural regional economies, thanks to the jobs and value it creates throughout the EU-28. Additionally, it contributes to the mobilisation and valorisation of local resources, thus decreasing the energy dependency of the EU-28.

After years of sustained growth, EU-28 pellet production experienced a slight decrease of 0,4% for the first time. As the majority of the European pellet production is destined for the heating market, it has been strongly impacted by the contraction of the European demand due to the mild winter of 2015- 2016 and the decrease in sales of heating appliances. The heating season 2016-2017 witnessed a more rigorous winter that rebalanced supply and demand and gave most European pellet suppliers a chance to recover from 3 consecutive difficult years.

Pellets are used in various ways in the EU-28, generating heat, electricity, or both in the case of CHP plants, thanks to mature, reliable and efficient high technology processes. In the EU-28, 21,7 million tonnes of wood pellets were consumed in 2016. A significant portion of this, 61.7%, was used for heat production. Pellet consumption for heat can be further divided into three markets – residential heating (42,6%), commercial heating (11,8%) and heat generated from CHP (7,3%). The remaining 38,3% was used for power production, either through CHP or dedicated power plants.

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All statistics featured in this section come from Bioenergy Europe's 2017 Statistical Report. If you want more insight do not hesitate to download the 'Key Findings' of the report (free of charge) and order a copy of the full report (consult the table of content of the 2017 Edition).

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