Not long ago, about 80 percent of pellets made in the United States were used domestically, largely for residential heating. Today, wood pellet heating has grown into an international energy and environmental super-power, driven by the European Union’s goal for 20% of all generated power to be sourced from renewables.
Since the US has many well-established pellet mills and significantly greater forest resources than Europe – millions of tons of bulk pellets are shipped overseas from the States to Europe. You’d think that this long distance hauling would reverse any environmental benefits of wood pellet energy, but transporting freight by ocean actually uses less than 13% of the energy of transporting the same freight by truck. Enviva Biomass, a main supplier for the UK-based company Drax, explains:
Ocean freight is substantially more carbon and energy-efficient on a per ton basis than trucking, which means that shipping long distances makes more sense than trucking over moderate distances. Shipping a ton of pellets from the Southeast U.S. to England results in less carbon emissions than trucking that same ton from northern Scotland to England.
Researchers detail in a report (Carbon Savings with Transatlantic Trade in Pellets: Accounting for Market-Driven Effects) that the greenhouse gas intensity of wood pellet-based electricity is between 74 to 85 percent lower than that of coal-based electricity savings. Furthermore, even after considering all the logistics, harvesting wood pellets in the US and exporting them to the EU is still far less environmentally harmful than burning coal within the EU for electricity.
The top European markets for US exporters were the UK, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Future opportunities are within countries like Germany and France, which will need to increase imports and rely less on domestic production in order to meet a steadily climbing demand. Within the 28 countries of the European Union, 18.8 million metric tons of wood pellets are burned annually – and the United Kingdom accounts for over one-fourth of the total global consumption.
Take a look at our infographic map to learn more about this fascinating industry, and let us know what you think!
Sources: Biomass Magazine | Trade.Gov | US Industrial Pellet Association | Transparency Market Research | North American Wood Fiber Review
The 2016 Pellet Stove Design Challenge (which is organized by the Alliance for Green Heat) was a three day international stove technology competition with a focus on spotlighting innovative and high performing pellet stoves and prototypes. The event also held extensive stove demonstrations/testing, presentations and round-table discussions with industry experts, researchers, scientists, policy-makers and students, among others. The main purpose of this competition is to promote innovation in wood and pellet heating, as well as help to reduce fossil fuel heating with the use of cleaner and more efficient stoves. Read more
It’s about that time to shut down your pellet stove for the summer! Considering pellet stove costs range at an average of around 2-3 thousand dollars, with some at double that price, this heating system is a real investment that will benefit from a few extra steps taken for season shut-down. Instead of just pulling the plug and walking away, responsible pellet burners should have a quick shut-down checklist to follow.
Many owner’s manuals that come with pellet stoves are an excellent resource filled with tips and guidelines for maintaining a healthy stove. We have compiled our own Pellet Stove Season Shut-Down Best Practices, co-written by a Cleancare professional pellet stove technician.
Did you purchase a biomass-burning heating system for your home that meets the 75% efficiency rating between January 1, 2015 and now? If you did, you’re likely eligible for the $300 Biomass Federal Tax Credit!
Unfortunately, there’s no master list of eligible stoves. To make sure yours meets the 75% efficiency rating requirement, just check with your retailer.
You’re able to claim this credit as long as the stove was installed in your principal residence. This is the home you live in most of the time. It must be in the United States, and it can include a house, houseboat, mobile home, cooperative apartment, condominium, and a manufactured home. New construction and rentals do not apply.
You’ll need the Individual Income Tax Return Form 1040 and the Residential Energy Credits Form 5695 to include the Biomass Federal Tax Credit on your filing. If you bought your eligible stove this year, or are planning to this year, prepare for your 2016 tax filing by keeping your sales receipt and the manufacturer’s certification. These are just for your records, not to be attached.
If your stove meets all the requirements, and you purchased it in 2015, did you include it on your tax return? If you missed out on the Biomass Federal Tax Credit, use form Form 1040X – Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. You have up to three years after the filing or due date, or two years after paying your taxes to amend. Full information on how to amend your return can be found here.
For More Information, See HPBA’s Tax Credit Guide, Here
Check out the specifications on the wood pellets you’re purchasing, and look for the ash content listed. The higher the percentage, the more ash you’ll get, and the more frequent your cleanings will be. Higher quality pellets will have lower ash percentages, and therefore less maintenance.
On top of research, another great way to choose a fuel is by talking to your fellow pellet-burners to see what they’re using and why. Of course, you won’t know what you like for your home and your budget until you run your own tests. But if you’re buying the cheapest pellets with lower heat and higher ash specifications – you shouldn’t expect the same results as the higher quality options available.
Horse bedding is used in stalls to absorb urine and moisture, and is a necessary part of properly maintaining clean stalls. Ideal bedding material makes cleaning up messes easy, is easy to store, and is the least wasteful.
Straw and wood shavings are commonly used, but using softwood wood pellets as horse bedding is becoming popular among experienced horse and stable owners.
Did you ever see our post on how to reuse empty wood pellet bags? Well here’s a brand new DIY project, just in time for the kids being home all week for Spring break. It’s also just in time for warmer weather coming our way!
This post will show you the simple steps on how to make a kite out of an empty wood pellet bag.
What You’ll Need:
-1 Empty Wood Pellet Bag
-2 Sticks or Bamboo Skewers
-Twine, String or Cording
-Markers, Stickers, Embellishments
The entire project, not including decorating the kite, should take less than thirty minutes. Be sure that any kid helpers are always supervised by an adult, because this DIY involves plastic bags and scissors.
You probably know all the wonderful aspects of burning wood pellets for heat. However, did you know that you can grill, smoke and bake your food with a special wood pellet appliance? Wood pellet grills were first introduced over 20 years ago by Traeger Pellet Grills, and several companies have generated their own versions since.
When it comes to BBQing, people are usually pretty particular about their methods. In the last few years, wood pellet grills have been gaining a very loyal following due to quick heat-up time, evenly dispersed heat, and a distinctive smoky flavor addition. You do need an electricity source to plug it in – but no need for lighters, gas or any fluids.
Spring is generally a pretty good time to purchase your pellet fuel, as many suppliers offer ‘early buy’ sales and promotions. But with the convergence of a few significant influences that we’ve explained below, this spring may offer wood pellet consumers the best buying opportunity in many years.
Coming into this season, we saw a big inventory build across the entire industry, as both suppliers and retailers anticipated another year of very strong demand for wood pellets. For the last couple of winters, the supply of pellets has just barely kept up with the demand from consumers. Who could forget the pellet shortages in the winter of 2014? Manufacturers ramped up production, and prepared for another harsh winter by building up a giant inventory position.