Catch up with PFI in this issue of the Pellet Wire!
April 1, 2022

From the Director's Desk:

Russia’s Big Short

Despite having spent over a decade reporting and writing about the global bioenergy sector, I still marvel at the interconnectedness of global energy markets. In the last two months the biggest story in the global woody biomass sector is Russia’s contribution to global wood pellet supplies and the impact that widespread sanctions against that country are having on pellet availability across Europe.

 Russia is the third largest exporter of wood pellets in the world, led only by the United States and Canada. Russian wood pellets flow throughout Europe and find both power and heating markets.

Data from the U.N. Comtrade database shows Russia sold nearly 2 million metric tons of wood pellets into European markets in 2022. Foreign buyers and sustainability outlets have acted swiftly in condemnation of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, ending the purchase of Russian wood pellets (Drax) and suspending sustainability certifications (Sustainable Biomass Partnership).

Complicating all of this is the already tight pellet inventory situation throughout Europe right now.

A short side bar: I had a conversation two weeks ago with a counterpart of mine in Europe who marveled at the data available regarding wood pellet production, sales and inventory levels throughout the United States. Trying to meaningfully impact tight inventory levels is difficult, doing so without any access to meaningful data is only more so. While we all may have ideas for how EIA Monthly Densified Fuel Report could be better organized, we’re lucky to have it.

How these lost volumes get replaced may well be the biggest story in bioenergy in 2022. As we all wait and hope for a peaceful resolution in the Ukraine, the global economy churns on and disruptions to global commodity markets stack up, wood pellets included. 

2021 Russian Wood Pellet Import Volumes, by Country

Data: U.N. Comtrade Database 

 Reporter Partner Gross Weight (metric tons) Trade Value (US$)
Netherlands Russian Federation  538,652 $ 100,920,133
Belgium Russian Federation  430,048 $ 53,297,519
United Kingdom Russian Federation  349,902 $ 50,545,747
Denmark Russian Federation  316,647 $ 48,524,542
Finland Russian Federation  93,933 $ 16,762,811
Lithuania Russian Federation  60,530  $ 8,452,504
Latvia Russian Federation  54,162 $ 6,452,504
Sweden Russian Federation  41,533 $ 6,999,537
Poland Russian Federation  32,660 $ 4,208,413
Hungary Russian Federation  3,713 $ 657,385
Estonia Russian Federation  1,775 $ 222,973
Serbia Russian Federation  1,212 $ 217,017
Spain Russian Federation  124 $ 25,613

Vermont’s Clean Heat Standard

Please spend some time reading the coverage of Vermont’s Clean Heat Standard in Biomass Magazine. I’ve also included a link to the actual bill in the industry news section as well. The bill has passed Vermont’s House and is now resting in a Senate committee. At first blush it seems clear that the state referenced the Renewable Fuels Standard while building their Clean Heat Standard. The text of the bill includes references to “obligated parties”, “clean heat credits” and a call for a specific number of clean heat credits to be retired each year. Anyone familiar with the Renewable Fuels Standard knows that the administration of such a program is far easier said than done. If passed, Vermont’s Public Utilities Commission, named in the bill as the likely administrator will certainly have its hands full.

At first blush this portends good things for wood pellet manufacturers, but I would urge caution and continued advocacy as our industry’s go forward strategy here. The bill’s text is riddled with vague references to qualifying clean heat sources and the word “pellet” never shows up in the document. In fact, the word “wood” is used only once when included in list of qualifying technologies in this way “advanced wood heating appliances and systems”.

Please keep in mind my recent comments about our advocacy with the International Energy Efficiency Code and the cautionary tale of how we cannot allow biomass to be written out of the definition of ‘renewable energy’ wherever those definitions may be codified. If this bill gets more traction in Vermont and ultimately passes, the Public Utilities Commission will go looking for sources to put some meat on the bone of statements within the bill like “advanced wood heating appliances and systems” and “renewable energy-based district heating services”. Wouldn’t it be a shame if Vermont wood pellet manufactures, retailers and consumers found themselves on the outside looking in at this clean heat marketplace? Wood pellets are a widely deployed clean heat solution available throughout Vermont now and we must work to ensure that continues if this bill becomes law.  

Registration for the PFI Annual Conference is Now Open

Earlier this week we officially opened registration for the 2022 Pellet Fuels Institute Annual Conference, and I hope you’ll consider joining us in Milwaukee. Specifically, I’d like to invite those readers of the Pellet Wire and members of the Pellet Fuels Institute who haven’t been to an annual conference ever, or in a very long time to make this the year that spend a few days with the industry. If you are participating in this this sector in any meaningful way I am confident you will find the content and the networking opportunity unrivaled this year. Our conference is an intimate in a matter of a handful of days you can meet and converse with representatives from vast swaths of this sector. We will be publishing our final agenda next.

Register Now 

  —Tim Portz
  Executive Director

  Photo of the Week:

PFI at the HPB Expo: Jeff Theissen (Dansons), Amanda Whitesides (American Wood Fibers) and Stephen Faehner (American Wood Fibers) caught up at the Dansons booth last month at the Heart, Patio, Barbecue Expo in Atlanta. 

 Photo: T. Portz

Send Us Photos! Help us build a collection of photos of our members, their pellet mills, and products! Send images to Tim Portz at [email protected].

Industry News

Heating Degree Days Data

(Worthy of a bookmark.) - I'll keep this link active for the remainder of the heating season. 
View Data

EIA Monthly Densified Biomass Report (with October data)

As of December 2021, the monthly data collection included 80 operating manufacturers of densified biomass fuel. 
Read Article

Vermont House passes Clean Heat Standard bill

The Vermont House of Representatives on March 16 voted 96 to 44 in favor of a bill that aims to implement a Clean Heat Standard to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the state's thermal sector.
Read Article

Text of Vermont’s Clean Heat Standard bill

From the Archives: Russia’s Global Wood Pellet Supply Potential (Feb. 2021)


According to WhatWood's estimates, about 500 companies are engaged in the production of wood pellets in Russia. The 40 largest producers account for about 80% of the market. The main wood pellet production hub in Russia is the Arkhangelsk region (ULK Group, Sawmill 25, Region-Les, etcetera.) The top 10 regions account for 55.6% of the total wood pellet output in Russia.
Read Article

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