Mitsubishi expands wood pellet holdings

By Ryan C. Christiansen
Web exclusive posted Sept. 26, 2008 at 10:32 a.m. CST

Mitsubishi Corp., Japan's largest general trading company with offices in 80 countries, has acquired a 45 percent stake in Vis Nova Trading GmbH, a manufacturer in Bremen, Germany, that produces wood pellets from waste wood. Mitsubishi invested $8.2 million in VNT and intends to be actively involved in the company's management, Mitsubishi said.

VNT owns and operates a manufacturing facility and several distribution facilities in Germany. The company supplies 180,000 metric tons of wood pellets per year to electric power companies in the European Union. According to Mitsubishi, VNT plans to build additional factories and achieve 500,000 metric tons in wood pellet sales by 2010.

In addition to VNT, Mitsubishi has established two 25,000-ton wood pellet manufacturers in Japan, including Forest Energy HITA Co. Ltd. and Forest Energy Kadogawa Co. Ltd. The company said that the wood pellet industry has grown at a rate of 20 percent over the last few years and demand for wood pellets is expected to increase from the current six million metric tons per year to over 40 million metric tons by 2020. Mitsubishi plans to set up manufacturing plants in North America, South America, and Asia.