European Pellet Conference opens with bullish outlook

By Tim Portz | February 26, 2014

The European Pellet Conference, the world’s largest global pellet forum, co-located with the World Sustainable Energy Days, opened Feb. 26 by Rudi Anshober, the Regional Minister for Energy in Upper Austria. Austria is among the world’s most enthusiastic supporters of both biomass and renewable energy with a target of deriving 100 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2030.

Following Anshober’s welcome, Giulio Volpi of the European Commission provided a broad overview of the role of renewables and biomass in the European Union. He outlined that currently 13 percent of energy consumption in the European Union (EU) comes from renewables, but that at the current growth trajectories the member states of the EU will not reach their 20 percent target by 2020. Individually, countries like Sweden and Austria have already reached this 20 percent target, with many more including Spain, Germany and Italy on track to do so by 2020. Still, there are countries with large populations like the United Kingdom that are not currently on a trajectory to achieve these targets.

Volpi described the biomass energy market in Europe as growing steadily with an overall annual growth rate of 3.8 percent. Volpi projected significant growth in the biomass derived electricity market in Europe growing from 91 terawatt hours (TWh) in 2012 to nearly 150 TWh in 2020. “We clearly see there will be an increased need for biomass past 2020,” Volpi said, adding that “there are two questions we will need to answer. One, what is the most appropriate use of biomass for energy production moving forward? And two, how can we meet that demand with European supply and imports moving forward?”

Anselm Eisentraut from the International Energy Agency noted that world power generation continues to be dominated by fossil fuels, but that renewables continue to grow their market share and contributed 20 percent of global power generation in 2011.

Eisentraut reported explosive growth in global pellet production, noting that since 2001 worldwide pellet production has increased ten-fold and attributed this growth to strong market pressures from both the heat and power sectors.

Poyry’s Silvo Mergner continued the morning’s theme of bullish market projections saying, “We anticipate the pellet market to double in the next ten years," and added, “We expect to see a rapid expansion in the Atlantic basin. The pellet market globally is expected to grow fast.”

Utilizing real time voting technologies the conference organizers conducted a survey of conference attendees and Anshober reported that “more than 75 percent of the professionals in this room rated the developments in the pellet market in 2013 either positively or very positively.”

The European Pellet Conference continues through Feb. 27.