North American wood pellet exports to Europe reach record level

By Luke Geiver | April 05, 2012

Wood pellet exports from North America to Europe have reached a record high.

According to analysis by Wood Resources International, more than 2 million tons of wood pellets were shipped in 2011, a 300 percent increase from 2008. Shipments have increased every quarter for four years, the analysis noted, going from 130,000 tons in the first quarter of 2008 to nearly 600,000 in the fourth quarter of 2011. Although Canadian wood pellet providers have historically represented the major exporters, that all changed in the second half of 2011 when expanded investments brought on new capacity in the Southeastern U.S. That new capacity now has the U.S. at the same export level as Canada, according to the report.

Although the rest of 2012 will see only small increases in pellet exports, the information does indicate that 2013 will bring significant export growth from both the U.S. and Canada. The report attributes that to more pellet production facilities currently under construction that will come online, or recently idled facilities that will resume production.

According to the report, the reason for the explosive growth is the growing wood pellet demand from utilities in the Netherlands, the U.K. and Belgium.