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Dutch wood pellet imports reached new high in 2020

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Dutch wood pellet imports reached a new high in 2020, totalling $511 million (€427 million), or 2.76 million metric tons (MMT).

Figures released by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service on 26 April showed the US was the leading non-EU supplier of pellets to the Netherlands in 2020.

The report shows the current share of bioenergy generated by wood pellets in the Netherlands is estimated at roughly 10% of total renewable energy consumption in the country, and roughly 30% for all solid biomass (e.g. waste wood, wood chips and wood pellets – municipal waste is not included). All the imported pellets used for renewable energy generation, funded by the Dutch Government, are subject to stringent sustainability requirements.

In future, the Dutch Government will place more emphasis on the use of biomass for higher-value applications, the report noted. Currently, the government is implementing the EU’s second Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) into law and is planning to add socio-economic criteria to the sustainability criteria of RED II.

In 2020, in terms of both volume and value, nearly half of wood pellets were imported from other EU Member States, mainly the Baltics and Portugal. The US was the largest third country (non-EU) supplier, with a volume of 591,000 million tons (MT), valued at nearly $112 million (€93.7 million), surpassing Canada and Russia. As a result, the Netherlands rose to be the second-largest destination for US wood pellets, after the UK (surpassing Belgium and Denmark).

USDA Foreign Agricultural Services’ forecast for 2021

Based on domestic pellet production of around 350,000 MT, and recent trade statistics, the total Dutch wood pellet consumption is estimated at nearly 2.9 MMT in 2020, of which roughly 2 MMT was destined for co-firing. Based on co-firing expansion plans, Dutch pellet use is estimated to increase to approximately 3.1 MMT in 2021.

The full 2021 forecast can be viewed in the report.