My Watch List for 2014

The pellet industry is poised to have a telling year in 2014. Will the optimism and promise that marked 2013 carry forward into 2014? The following stories are must watch stories as the industry marches forward into 2014.
By Tim Portz | January 07, 2014

A bitter cold has gripped the vast majority of North America, extending the holiday break as schools cancel classes and await the return of slightly warmer air. Our 2014 here at Pellet Mill Magazine is well underway and many of you may well be perusing our first quarter issue as it is currently landing in the mailboxes of our readers.

The pellet industry is poised to have a telling year in 2014. Will the optimism and promise that marked 2013 carry forward into 2014? How many of the plans, projects and investments that grew out of this optimism will maintain their momentum going forward into the New Year? Finally, what stories and place names will emerge in 2014 that will perpetuate and maintain the industry’s enviable momentum?

We look forward to the coming year and hope you’ll continue to rely upon Pellet Mill Magazine, Biomass Magazine and the upcoming International Biomass Conference & Expo for pellet industry news, insight and commentary.

As I look into the New Year, I’m keeping a close eye on these developing stories.

  1. What about Eggborough? Anyone that attended the 3rd Annual Exporting Pellets Conference in Miami probably has the same memories of Nigel Hildyard and his team huddled together in the lobby of the Hotel Fontainbleu rehashing the day’s discussions. The Eggborough Power Station, a 1960 MW station located not far from the Drax Power Station was poised to carry the momentum of the UK’s coal phase out/biomass phase-in into 2014. In December, Eggborough’s future as a biomass base load behemoth was dealt a blow as it was omitted from a list of 10 projects the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change identified as ‘provisionally affordable’. Essentially, policymakers have turned away from supporting the Eggborough conversion and the future of that facility not only as a biomass convert, but also as future producer of power at all is very much in question. All is not lost as the commitment to Drax remains firm as does the commitment to the Lynemouth (420 MW) and Teesside (275 MW) projects.
  2. From Development to Groundbreaking. As I write this, Pellet Mill Magazine’s annual pellet plant data confirmation is beginning. In addition to confirming the production data of every existing pellet mill in North America, we’ll be checking in with all of the pellet projects we are tracking that fall under the broad umbrella of ‘under development’. We currently list 27 projects with a combined output capacity of over 7 million tons as under development. I’ll be checking in personally with many of these projects and I’m looking forward to hearing about project progress. Are groundbreakings imminent? Is additional capacity being planned? Conversely, has the news out of the UK begun chilling the red hot project development pipeline?
  3. Sustainability Tracking. Beginning in April of this year, generators in the UK making power with biomass input streams will have to demonstrate their supply chains meet the requirements established by DECC to qualify their power for Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs). The infrastructure to record, track and report on the fiber baskets that supply large pellet producers will have to emerge in the coming months. The ‘how’ of all of this reporting is not completely understood, nor is its total cost. It will be interesting to watch technology solutions emerge to handle the massive amounts of transactional data that will need to captured and cataloged.

I’d like to close by inviting all of you to participate in the development of Pellet Mill Magazine this year. We had tremendous success with our editorial board in 2013 and will be growing the board in 2014. Even if a commitment to an editorial board seems onerous, I’d remind everyone that your emails are read, considered and often impact the editorial scope of a particular story or issue.