2016 USIPA Conference

The U.S. Industrial Pellet Association recently held its annual conference in Miami, and USIPA executive director, Seth Ginther, reviews the people who attended and important topics discussed.
By Seth Ginther | November 10, 2016

2016 has been a busy year for the pellet industry and the agenda we covered at our 6th Annual Exporting Pellets Conference certainly reflected that.  We were excited to be back at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel to welcome 400 of our closest bioenergy friends to Miami Nov. 6-8.

The growing support here in the U.S. for the sustainability and economic benefits of our industry has been astounding.  We were thrilled to have U.S. Forest Service chief Tom Tidwell and Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., participating in our keynote panel.  Nigel Adams, MP for the Selby and Ainsty constituency represented in U.K. Parliament’s House of Commons, and arguably our biggest cheerleader in the U.K., joined them for an animated discussion on biomass perspectives from across the Atlantic.  Enviva chairman and CEO John Keppler moderated the panel, and they shared their thoughts on how the pellet export industry is mutually beneficial for both the U.S. and the U.K. and what our trade relationship may look like after Brexit.

We also introduced several new panels into our agenda this year, including a panel highlighting the new Lynemouth and MGT biomass power generation projects.  These two major projects have reached financial close during a slower market period, and we explored how these projects overcame hurdles to come to fruition and how this impacts market growth moving forward. This panel included participants involved directly in the financing and development of these two projects and their insights were nothing short of eye-opening.

Looking to the future, we always want to provide room in our agenda for new markets, and this year that was the Japanese market. Having just returned from a trip to Japan, I can tell you that this market potentially holds a great deal of opportunity for our industry here in the U.S.  With the potential to import 10 million metric tons of pellets for power generation and a serious interest in long-term supply agreements, Japan may present a growth prospect for U.S. producers.  This panel focused on policy, trade and supply chain issues, and what it will take for the U.S. to become a competitive player in this market. 

Of course, our agenda also included some of our traditionally most-popular sessions, including the European power generators panel and the U.S. biomass producers panel.  The insights provided from these two groups are always interesting and this year we had some new topics to discuss, such as Brexit and currency issues in trading.

We also aimed to provide sustainability policy updates across Europe and here at home in the U.S.  There are a lot of questions still: Will the Netherlands recognize globally accepted sustainability certifications that rely on a risk-based approach, or will the country go its own way and isolate itself when it comes to security of supply?  What will the new EU bioenergy policy look like?  What is going on with the EPA Clean Power Plan and what will the U.S. Supreme Court have to say?  Our agenda provided analysis from policy and legal experts on all of this and more.

As with every year, we aspired for our agenda to provide a snapshot of the industry and what to expect over the next 12 months.  Right now, that picture is looking pretty busy for the year ahead. 

Check out the full agenda on our website—www.theusipa.org/conference—and for those of you who attended the conference, we hope you enjoyed your time in Miami.

Author: Seth Ginther
Executive Director
U.S. Industrial Pellet Association
[email protected]