A focus on the pellet market (EPC)

In 2015, wood pellet consumption in the EU-28 reached 20,3 million tonnes which represented 6% of total solid biomass used in Europe. In contrast with other parts of the world where pellet consumption has stagnated or decreased, pellet consumption increased in the EU-28. The EU produced 14,1 million tonnes of pellets covering 70% of its demand. Therefore, the majority of wood pellet demand in the EU-28 is supplied by its own domestic production. The rest of the pellets used by the EU are sourced mainly from North America. Other regions such as Russia and the CIS countries complete the pellet supply to the EU.


The wood pellet production in the EU-28 is following an upward trend, growing by 4,7% between 2014 and 2015. Wood pellet production areas are spread throughout the Member States. Therefore, the wood pellet sector contributes to rural and regional economies, thanks to the jobs and value it creates all over the EU-28. Additionally, it contributes to the mobilisation and development of local resources, thus decreasing the energy dependency of the EU-28. Germany is the biggest producer of wood pellets producing 2 million tonnes followed by Sweden, Latvia, Estonia and Austria.


In the EU-28, 20,2 million tonnes of wood pellets were consumed in 2015. The majority of the consumption was for heat production which represented 63,9%. Pellet consumption for heat can be further divided into three markets – residential heating (42,2%), commercial heating (15,7%) and heat generated from CHP (6%). The remaining 36,1% of wood pellets were used for power production. It should be noted that the technologies for producing energy out of pellets for heat, electricity or both, are mature, offering efficient and reliable processes.


Between 2014 and 2015, pellet consumption for heating increased by 4,2%, despite mild winters and low oil prices. The use of wood pellets for energy has effected all heat markets across the EU-28 Member States. Italy was the biggest consumer of pellets using 3,1 million tonnes in 2015 for heat production. Among the top 5 pellet consuming Member States, the proportion of wood pellet use varies. In Italy, Germany and France, the majority of wood pellet use goes to the residential heating market, representing 92%, 58% and 95% respectively. In Denmark, 56% of wood pellets are used in CHP plants for heating production and in Sweden, 60% of pellets go to heating installations for commercial purposes. Among all the heating market segments, commercial heating is often seen as the one offering the highest potential. Unfortunately, there is a clear lack of awareness about the potential to use pellets in sectors such as industry or services (hotels, swimming pools or public buildings).


Wood pellet consumption for power is rising in the EU-28. It increased by 14,9% between 2014 and 2015. In contrast with the heat market, the power market of wood pellets is rather concentrated in a couple of Member States. The United Kingdom is the biggest consumer of wood pellets for power production. Its consumption for power production increased by 21,4% between 2014 and 2015. Belgium is the second biggest consumer for power production, representing 1,1 million tonnes. Between 2014 and 2015, wood pellet consumption for power rocketed in Belgium. Unlike the United Kingdom and Belgium, for the other big consumers, wood pellet consumption for power was rather slow. In Denmark, pellet use for power stagnated in 2015, while in Sweden it decreased by 25,7% and Germany observed a slight increase. The technologies used for electricity production differ from country to country: the United Kingdom, Belgium and Netherlands are converting dedicated power plants, while the Nordic States are converting CHP plants.


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All statistics featured in the following section come from the AEBIOM 2016 Statistical Report. If you want more insight do not hesitate to download the ‘Key Findings’ of the report (free of charge) and order a copy of the full report (consult the table of content of the 2016 Edition).

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