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Pellets remain ‘reliable, affordable solution’ to decarbonisation

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Wood pellets remain a reliable and affordable solution for the decarbonisation of the EU economy, according to a new report.

Bioenergy Europe has published the fifth chapter of its Statistical Report 2021, focusing on wood pellets and their key role in achieving sustainability targets.

Global pellet production remains on the path of constant and stable growth, with an increase of 5% from 2019 to 2020. The figures show the EU reached 18.1 million tonnes of pellet production, making it the world’s major pellet producer. Germany is still the largest producer within the EU, while the Czech Republic (Czechia) registered a ‘remarkable’ increase of 21.5% in 2020.

Pellet use increased by 7% globally compared to 2019, reaching 19.3 million tonnes. The EU-27 remain the largest global pellet consumer. The residential and commercial segments are led by Italy, which remains the world’s largest pellet user for the residential sector, with a total consumption of 3.4 million tonnes.

Bioenergy Europe said the sector’s positive trend confirms wood pellets’ great resilience to externalities such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent energy price crisis.

Although the supply of raw material was reduced due to a slowdown of sawmilling activity, most market actors remained well-stocked due to the high raw material availability in areas affected by forest disturbances such as the bark beetle.

On the other hand, the recent increase in electricity and gas prices did not impact the biomass sector and wood pellets kept their stable price levels. Bioenergy Europe said this reveals wood pellets as a sustainable solution to tackle high energy dependency on natural gas imports and address energy price increases such as the one Europe is currently facing.

Taking all this into account, wood pellets should be considered a reliable, affordable solution for all sectors in the context of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, said the organisation. They can significantly contribute to the decarbonisation of the heating sector, which is responsible for almost half of the EU’s energy consumption.

Bioenergy Europe’s secretary-general, Jean-Marc Jossart, said that “adopting a dual approach of ban on direct and indirect subsidies for fossil fuels, along with the unlocking of support through the Social Climate Fund would allow citizens to switch from fossil heating appliances to modern and efficient pellet solutions.

“This would result in a faster deployment of renewable solutions while shielding vulnerable consumers from energy poverty.

“A stable policy framework is essential for giving a sufficiently long-term perspective to companies to further invest in sustainable pellet production and use, which will further help climate change mitigation efforts.”