Data Effort Reveals an Industry at Full Throttle
Included with the second quarter issue of Pellet Mill Magazine, you will find the 2014 U.S and Canada Pellet Mill Map. I would argue it is the most comprehensive overview of the North American pellet production complex available, anywhere. The team at Pellet Mill Magazine engaged in a robust, month-long confirmation effort. We were able to update our data for nearly 80 percent of the operational, under construction and proposed pellet facilities in North America. For those of you who took the time to respond to our email inquiries or answered our calls, we thank you.
Our efforts, conducted largely in January, found a pellet industry running its facilities near maximum capacity in an effort to satisfy strong demand. In Managing Editor Sue Retka Schill’s data-rich feature, “The Challenge of Forecasting Pellet Demand,” John Ackerly of the Alliance for Green Heat affirms this saying, “A lot of mills are working 24/7 now, they can’t make them fast enough.”
The number of home heating days must also be paired with volatility in the markets of the heating fuels that pellets compete with to gain an accurate picture of the trajectory of demand. Retka Schill’s piece goes on to establish that price volatility, not sustained high prices, drives increased interest in pellet appliances, and a preceding year’s shipments to appliance dealers are as good a demand indicator as producers are likely to get.
Recognizing that appliance sales ultimately generate pellet demand, this quarter’s issue of Pellet Mill Magazine features the first in a series on the array of appliances that utilize pellets to deliver heat. Staff Writer Chris Hanson’s piece, The Newest in Stylish, Warm Room Heating, offers a snapshot of appliances that, once installed, typically generate 2 to 2.5 tons of demand every year.
Probably the most eye-popping data on the pellet map is the under construction and proposed new capacity. Our outreach efforts have affirmed that there are over 12 million tons of capacity in various stages of construction and development. Put another way, if each of these projects proceeds as planned, the North American pellet complex is set to double. And while this publication continues to cover the growing industrial demand in the United Kingdom (see Keith Loria’s feature, UK Coal-to-Pellet Conversions Ahead ), our outreach suggests that producers are finding new international markets for home heating pellets.
Our plant map paints a picture of a quickly expanding marketplace; and the latest issue of Pellet Mill Magazine takes a deep dive into the reasons.