Wood pellets become more and more popular all over the world in terms of renewable energy production. This kind of fuel has a number of benefits. Due to these advantages, the market of pellets is growing.
The benefits of wood pellets
First, wood pellets are environment-friendly, since they do not produce such a great amount of harmful gases while being combusted, as fossil fuels do. At the same time, wood pellets are more energy efficient, as lesser quantity of fuel is required in order to generate sufficient amount of power.
Second, pellets are easy to transport and store. They are made of recycled wood and forestry by-products. It means that wood pellets weigh less and requires less place to be stored.
Third, this kind of fuel is safer to use than fossil fuels are. Wood pellets contain no fissile and explosive chemical compounds. Consequently, they do not lead to any kind of accidents, such as explosion, poisoning or leakage, while being processed.
Canada is one of the main pellet producers
Due to these benefits of wood pellets, the demand for this kind of biomass fuel is growing from year to year. However, not every country possesses appropriate resources to produce pellets. In this case, those countries, which possess huge forest areas, become the leader of this sector. Canada is one of them.
This country occupies approximately 10 per cent of the world’s forest. This figure equates 397 million hectares. That is to say that the forest resources of Canada are the third largest in the world. In this case, Canada is one of the biggest wood pellets exporter in the world. What is more, this country was the first to produce pellets and utilize them in order to generate energy.
Canadian production of wood pellets has significantly increased since 2000th. For instance, in 2002 Canada produced 500,000 tonnes of pellets. In 2011, this figure equated 3.2 million tonnes.
Canadian pellet plants
There are more than 42 pellet plants in Canada, which are able to produce approximately 3 million tonnes of pellets per year. Beyond that, they are expected to increase their production capacity. The point is that the consumption of wood pellets in Canada will have been 4.4 million tonnes per year by 2019.
It is important to notice that these plants capacity differs in different parts of country. For instance, those pellet plants, which are situated in Western Canada, are larger and have a capacity about 150,000 tonnes per year. These plants hold approximately 64 per cent of the Canadian total production. At the same time, the capacity of plants, situated in Eastern Canada equates about 50,000 tonnes annually.
There are three largest pellet plants in Canada: Pinnacle-Meadowbank 200,000 tons; Pinnacle-Williams Lake 150,000 tons; and Pinnacle/Canfor-Houston 150,000 tons, respectively.
Canadian wood pellet trade
Most of wood pellets produced are being exported to the European Union. Data reveals that European demand for Canadian wood pellets is growing at 20 per cent every year. The main consumers, in this case, are the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Italy and Sweden. In 2012, for instance, total pellets export to these countries was 1.2 million tonnes. According to the European energy strategy, this figure is to have risen significantly by 2020.
Canada is also exporting wood pellets to the Asian countries. The main trade partners in this region are Japan and South Korea. It is curious, that while Korean pellet market is growing slowly, the demand for wood pellets in Japan is rapidly rising. What is more, it is expected to have reached 8 million tonnes by 2020.
However, situation is different when it comes to Canadian domestic market. It is still not that developed as international one. The main reason is that the government of Canada does not conduct effective energy policy and incentives in terms of biomass market development. Though this country is one of the wood pellets major producers, the use of fossil fuels here remains significant. That is to say that the main kind of fuel in Canada is coal.
In summary, Canada possesses huge forest areas, which gives an opportunity to this country to remain one of the world major producers and exporters of wood pellets. This sector is growing rapidly in Canada. Most of wood pellets produced are being exported to the European and Asian countries. However, domestic pellets market is not that developed.