New association to address U.S. industrial pellet export issues

By Anna Austin | April 22, 2011

A new trade group has formed to address specific industry issues faced by U.S. manufacturers of industrial-grade wood pellets that are being exported to Europe.

According to Executive Director Seth Ginther, the U.S. Industrial Pellet Association will focus on three main issues: certification standards for industrial wood pellets, sustainability and uniformity of contracts. There are other pellet trade groups in the U.S., he said, but none that address those specific issues.

The group was officially formed in February by Enviva Biomass, Fram Renewable Fuels, Green Circle Bio Energy Inc. and the Westervelt Co., according to Ginther, and interest has been extremely high. “We’re looking for other producers to become members, or anybody who is involved in the value chain or supply chain of industrial wood grade pellets. That includes landowners, transporters, equipment manufacturers, ports, European utilities and trading groups.”

On U.S. pellet export activity right now, Ginther said it’s not just talk. “It’s happening, and during the next five years, pellet demand in Europe will continue to rise dramatically. There’s an enormous demand for this product and that will continue.”  

Though in the future the largely residential-based U.S. pellet market may begin to expand more to industrial-scale use, Ginther said the domestic wood pellet market as a whole is very small right now compared to Europe’s. 

The USIPA plans to work with Canada on policy issues, he added, as Canada currently exports the vast majority of wood pellets imported to Europe.