Pellets can become a substantial global fuel

The use of sustainably produced pellets to replace fossil fuels is environmentally and economically attractive, says a new factsheet

By Rajit Sengupta
Published: Monday 27 October 2014

Deutsches Pellet Institute

Biomass pellets, which are small, rounded, compressed mass of a substance, usually made of wood waste, have the potential of becoming a fuel with a significant importance in the global energy balance, believes the World Bioenergy Association (WBA). The global association recently released a factsheet, titled ‘Pellets—a fast growing energy carrier’.

“Pellets are a well-packaged bioenergy carrier—they have high energy content, standardized properties and are easy to transport long distances. The use of sustainably produced pellets to replace fossil fuels is environmentally and economically attractive. There has been a tremendous growth in pellet production and use in the past decade and they will play a vital role in climate change mitigation and energy security,” says Heinz Kopetz, president, WBA.

The availability of wood (a major feedstock for pellets) as raw material is substantial and could be further extended by the establishment of plantations of fast growing trees. Also, the possibility of using agricultural by-products offers a vast amount of resources.

WBA says pellets are slightly more expensive than coal but are cheaper than heating oil. “The use of pellets instead of coal for generating heat is economic on its own while the electricity generation needs to be supported,” reads the WBA press release.

It will also be a greener alternative to coal. “In the situation where the world is facing climate problems and energy security issues, WBA favours farsighted government policies such as carbon taxes and financial incentives to promote the use of pellets for combined heat and power and/or heat alone applications. This would reduce the heating expenses for the citizens, decrease the CO2 emissions and improve energy security.”

Europe and North America are the main pellet producing regions today. The factsheet forecasts strong growth in pellet consumption in Europe, North America and Asia in the coming years.

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