IEA Bioenergy Task 40 updates report on pellet industry, trade

By Erin Voegele | July 10, 2017

IEA Bioenergy Task 40, an initiative established by the International Energy Agency in 2003 to focus on international bioenergy technology, recently published a new report on the global wood pellet industry and trade.

The report, titled “Global Wood Pellet Industry and Trade Study 2017,” spans nearly 250 pages and provides an update to a similar report issued in 2011. It addresses the use of pellets in global electricity and heating markets, quality standards and costs. The report also provides an overview of the pellet industry in more than 30 countries, including data and information on regulatory frameworks, production capacity, consumption, price trends, trade, logistics, and country-specific standardization aspects. 

The report estimates the U.S. pellet industry reached an operational production capacity of 13.7 million tons per year as of the close of 2016, with the production of wood pellets accounting for 13.2 million tons of that capacity.

According to the IEA, 119 mills in the U.S. south were consuming pulpwood and residual chip fiber in 2015, the same amount as in 2000. However, an internal shift occurred in the sector from pulp and paper to wood pellet production. The report also indicates 16 new wood pellet facilities were built in the region since 2005, with 14 pulp and paper mills that permanently closed between 1995 and 2015. Currently, the IEA lists 15 wood pellet plant operations in the South with capacities above 300,000 tons per year.

In 2015, approximately 63 percent of U.S. pellets were sold into export markets, with the remaining production consumed domestically in residential heating. The report estimates more than 13 million wood heaters are in operational use across the U.S. Pellet stoves account for approximately 10 percent of that volume.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the IEA Bioenergy Task 40 website.