Belgian power sector resumes firing of wood pellets

By Erin Voegele | December 31, 2014

An updated report filed with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Global Information Network indicates the Belgian power sector has resumed firing of biomass.

The report explains that the Flemish power sector temporarily stopped firing wood pellets from March to July 2014 because the Belgian wood sector argued that pellet production cannibalized its raw material. The power sector began to generate power using wood pellets gain in August due to a new Belgian Decree that requires the wood sector to prove the threat to their inputs prior to limiting the use of pellets.

During the period from March-July, the Belgian government did not grant Green Certificates for pellets that were produced from a resource that could be used as a raw material by another domestic industry. Prior to March, the Belgian wood industry federation only projected to the production of domestic pellets, which did not impact the power sector because the vast majority were imported from North America. In March, the Flemish Regulator of the Electric and Gas Market no longer allowed the federation to make a distinction based on the origin of wood pellets alone. As a result, certificates for burning wood pellets were not granted, and were revoked retroactively back to January.

According to the GAIN report, in May, the Belgian government implemented a new energy decree that essentially requires the wood industry federation to prove the competitive threat prior to denying a certificate. As a result of the change, the power sector was once again able to secure Green Certificates for burning wood pellets, and the generation of power from wood pellets resumed in August. Current industrial use of wood pellets for the country is estimated at approximately 900,000 metric tons per year.