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September 21, 2018

EU demand for wood pellets to rise to 24 million tonnes this year; Italy and the UK the main consumers

EU demand for wood pellets to rise to 24 million tonnes this year; Italy and the UK the main consumers

The EU is the world’s largest wood pellet market, with consumption of about 22.7 MMT (million metric tonnes) of wood pellets in 2017. Based on the European Commission (EC) mandates and Member State (MS) incentives, the demand is expected to expand further to about 24 MMT in 2018. Future consumption will significantly depend on a range of market factors and EU Member State incentives and conditions.

While the EU produces about fifty percent of world production, EU demand represents about 75 percent of the market. In 2017, total EU consumption was about 22.7 MMT. In 2016, 43 percent was used residential heating, 35 percent for commercial power, 12 percent for commercial heating and 11 percent for combined heat and power (Source: AEBIOM). The major users of wood pellets in the EU are the United Kingdom, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, France and Austria.

Residential Use of Pellets

Residential use for heating, about 45 percent of the total pellet market, fluctuates annually but is a relatively stable market compared to industrial heat and power generation. The demand depends on the winter temperatures and fossil fuel prices. The past two winters of 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 were relatively colder than the preceding four winters which is expected to have supported the use of wood pellets for residential heating. Medium-size use of pellets for energy generation by industries or public buildings such as hospitals and swimming pools is generally less dependent on weather conditions.

In Italy, Germany, France and Austria pellets are mainly used in small-scale private residential and medium-sized industrial boilers for heating. In some EU Member States, such as Sweden, Germany, Austria, France and Spain, household heating with biomass as input receives subsidies or tax deductions by the federal and local governments. In most countries, however, government funding is limited.

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