Where are the Wood Pellets Going? A Look at Global Biomass Exports

Wood pellet mills across America are running at full capacity, yet some retailers are still struggling with supply levels. Many consumers have felt the strain this year – by being turned away or having to wait for pellets. So if mills are producing the supply as quickly as possible – where are the pellets going?

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 from a residential home heating alternative into an international energy and environmental super-power. Wood pellet exports from the United States have doubled since last year – with more than half the exports going to the United Kingdom.

Wood pellets import export, 2013 Map US to EU

The European Union pellet import increase stems from a goal set to obtain 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020. According to the RISI’s 2014 Global Pellet Demand Outlook Study, wood pellet demand globally is projected to grow from an estimated 23 million tons in 2014 – to 50 million tons in 2024.

Due to a successful history in American sustainable forest management, the total forest area in the U.S. is within one percent of what it was 100 years ago. Therefore, because Europe does not produce enough timber to meet the high demand, increased imports of wood pellets are coming from the States. 

So – wouldn’t it make more sense for American mills to sell to neighbor retailers in the States? Well, 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:

 

The US has substantially greater forest resources than Europe, making it an ideal area from which to source pellets. 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.

 

Fortunately for residential wood pellet burners in America, many new pellet mills have been proposed or are under construction to alleviate the demand. If you’re worried about your own personal supply – check out our blog on how to avoid any potential wood pellet shortages. 

Questions? Need wood bricks or pellets? Give us a call at 1-800-PELLETS to speak to a Woodpellets.com representative.

 

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Pellet Stove Problem Questions – Answered by a Professional Stove Technician

I Keep Getting Clinkers in My Burn Pot. What is Causing This?

PelletStoveClinkerClinkers, which look like clumps of ash, can cause airflow issues from blockage. Clinkers are formed by burned or partially burned pellets that melt together into a clump.

There are two likely reasons for clinkers – a poor air mixture which due to a neglected or dity unit, or incorrect air adjustments.

My Pellet Stove Won’t Ignite.

There are a variety of reasons for your pellet stove failing to light.  The most common reasons – bad air flow, a dirty unit, bad igniter, blown fuse, bad gasket around igniter – could be easily avoided with regular maintenance and professional inspections.

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Wood Pellet Market Update

There is only one word to describe the current market in wood pellets – unprecedented. Many of the changes that have happened in the pellet industry have been brewing for years, but the effects have really been felt by consumers since last spring. The appeal of wood pellet fuel has never been stronger, but that has driven some changes that every buyer of pellets will see.

New Stove Sales

Wood Pellet Delivery

Pellet stove sales continue to grow by leaps and bounds. The comfort and warmth generated by a pellet stove, combined with the run-up in heating oil prices and propane last winter, has convinced many households in New England to install a pellet stove. Many of the stove shops we work with in have let us know that their installations of new stoves are up as much as 50% so far this year and sales continue to be strong this fall. Anyone buying a new stove can see a wait time of several weeks for installation as the stores work to keep up with sales. These new stoves mean more people looking for pellets this fall.

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Wood Pellet Delivery Peak Season FAQs

It’s the time of year where the phones are steadily ringing, and we are talking with many new and returning customers. Due to other retailers running out of wood pellets and the time of year, our phone call volumes have significantly increased. The Woodpellets.com team is always happy to get you the answers you are looking for, so we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions we are hearing during this seasonal rush.

Wood Pellet Delivery1. Do you have wood pellets to sell me?

If you type in your zip code on our website, or tell us on the phone, you will receive a list of available inventory in your area. You might see “Backordered” or “Sold Out” at times. However, if we tell you on the phone or you see online that pellets are available – that means we have them. We would never knowingly sell wood pellets or wood bricks that aren’t available.

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How to Avoid a Potential Wood Pellet Shortage

Is Another Shortage Likely?
Last month we looked at some troubling signs that
another pellet shortage could not be ruled out again this winter. Expanding exports to Europe, mill closures due to fire, and now a forecast of another bitter cold winter are all contributing to make this winter another challenging one for pellet users.

So what are the best ways to protect yourself from the threat of shortages?
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A Look Behind the Scenes at Woodpellets.com

Woodpellets.com

If you have a wood pellet stove, by this time you have either bought your pellets, or at least thought about it (we hope). Our phones have been ringing steadily and our hours have extended, which means the heating season is quickly approaching. We have been happy to hear from many new people this year, and of course we’re thrilled to be catching up with our past/repeat customers as well. During our high call volume, we have been hearing and experiencing a lot of the same things, which we’d like to address:

1. A Need for Information: We are getting calls from many new pellet stove owners with many questions about the best kind of wood pellets, the difference between hardwood and softwood, ash content importance, etc. Every person that answers the phone at Woodpellets.com is a wood pellet fuel expert. You won’t be transferred to another department in order to talk to someone who knows about pellets, and you will certainly not be rushed off the line. We completely understand that you might have a lot of questions, and we are all happy and ready to provide you with honest, helpful answers. Most members of our team are either pellet stove owners, or have owned a pellet stove in the past – so we’ve probably had similar questions at one point.

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Another Cold Winter Heading Our Way

Prepare for a cold winter

For Northeasterners, and much of the U.S., last winter was rough. Heavy snowfall, plenty of ice and bitter cold temperatures made the season very difficult for many. In August of 2013, the Farmer’s Almanac actually predicted this kind of weather, which sparked some skepticism. The report predicted, “The ‘Days of Shivery’ are back! For 2013—2014, we are forecasting a winter that will experience below average temperatures for about two-thirds of the nation.” Unfortunately, that report ended up being right. If the trend continues and this year’s prediction is also correct, we are in for another long, cold winter.

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Is Your Stove Ready for the Heating Season?

Your Pellet Stove Needs CareIt’s inevitable: the nights are cooler, the days are shorter. Fall is coming quickly and it’s time to get ready for the 2014-15 heating season. You may have already secured your wood pellets and/or wood bricks, and that’s great! But before you start up your stove for the season, you should seriously consider a professional 8-point cleaning and inspection.  If you have not already had your stove serviced – and we mean professionally cleaned – since last heating season, we strongly recommend that you do.
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8 Steps to a Safe and Clean Wood Pellet Stove

Dirty Wood Pellet Stove

Picture courtesy of @KerryBioFuels

Aside from the usual ash removal and general maintenance, your wood pellet stove needs additional care in order to operate efficiently and safely. Although many stove owners believe their own cleaning techniques are sufficient, and some perhaps are, the fact remains that some things should be left to trained professionals.

Think of it like service for a car. There are some car owners who can adequately handle his or her own engine service. However, engines are typically best taken care of within the hands of honest, experienced professionals.

Check out this pellet stove chimney clog to the left. Just because pellet stoves burn with less creosote buildup than wood stoves, it doesn’t mean the stove doesn’t need attention. (The picture is from a stove with over four years with no professional cleaning and inspection.) Dramatic, perhaps…but you get our point.

We have broken down the 8 steps needed to keep your pellet stove running safe and at optimal efficiency.

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