Report: Japan imports 3 million metric tons of pellets in 2021

By Erin Voegele | January 05, 2022

Japan imported an estimated 3 million metric tons of wood pellets in 2021, up from 2.028 million in 2020, according to a report filed with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Information Network in late December.

According to the report, Japan’s Agency of Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) has released data showing that 201 woody biomass power plants in Japan generated 2,888 megawatts (MW) of electricity as of the end of March 2021. The agency had approved an additional 193 biomass power plants as of that date. Together, existing and approved biomass power plants would bring total domestic operational capacity to 7,394 MW.

Japan imported approximately 2.02 million metric tons of wood pellets in 2020. Approximately 58 percent of that volume came from Vietnam, with 29 percent from Canada. The country received its first commercial shipment of U.S. wood pellets in January 2021. According to the report, Enviva plans to export more than 3 million metric tons of wood pellets to Japan annually by 2025. If realized, that volume would make the U.S. the leading supplier to the Japanese wood pellet market.

Japan currently has 135 domestic pellet plants, down from 137 in 2020. Domestic production is estimated at 150,000 metric tons for 2021, up slightly from 149,000 metric tons in 2020.

In addition to wood pellets, Japan also imported an estimated 4.02 million metric tons of palm kernel shells for power production in 2021, up from 3.396 million metric tons in 2020.

A full copy of the report is available on the USDA FAS GAIN website