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Svebio and PelletsFörbundet release Nordic Pellets 2020 programme

The organisers of the first major wood pellet industry event of 2020 have released details of the conference programme. To be held on February 4-5, 2020 in Uppsala, Sweden, Nordic Pellets 2020 will take an in-depth look into how pellets could play a significant role in the European Green Deal climate-neutral fossil-free 2050 aspirations by taking note of Nordic deployment and implementation.

The organisers of the first major wood pellet industry event of 2020 have released details of the conference programme. To be held on February 4-5, 2020 in Uppsala, Sweden, Nordic Pellets 2020 will take an in-depth look into how pellets could play a significant role in the European Green Deal climate-neutral fossil-free 2050 aspirations by taking note of Nordic deployment and implementation.

Jointly organised by the Swedish Bioenergy Association (Svebio) and the Swedish Pellets Association (Pelletsförbundet), Nordic Pellets 2020 comes at a pivotal point on the energy transition and climate-change mitigation pathway – European Union (EU) member states have eleven months left to fulfill their respective 2020 renewable energy targets under the current Renewable Energy Directive (RED).

Of the Nordic’s, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark have already achieved their EU 2020 targets (Norway, and Iceland for that matter, are not included). Pellets play an important role in meeting these targets, and going ahead to 2030 and beyond, could do more which the annual Nordic pellets conference will provide some insight into.

All the Nordics – Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland are forerunners in this respect. District heating, cooling and combined heat and power (CHP) are all widely implemented and primarily use biomass fuels such as biogas, wood pellets, woodchips and municipal solid waste (MSW). With the exception of Iceland that makes good use of its bountiful volcanic geothermal assets instead.

The Nordic energy majors and municipal district heating companies such as E.ON, Fortum, HelenStockholm Exergi, Vattenfall, and Ørsted have already embarked on fossil-fuel phase-outs in their energy systems including those used in back-up and peak load units. Coal, oil and fossil gas are being replaced with renewable solutions including wood pellets.

As a whole, the Nordics are a relatively medium-sized regional market. According to the Bioenergy Europe 2019 Statistical Report for Pellets, the Nordics accounted for 16 percent of the European pellet consumption in 2018, approximately 4.45 million tonnes of which Denmark (mainly Ørsted) had the lion’s share of 3.1 million tonnes while Sweden consumed 1.8 million tonnes.

In terms of production, the Nordics produced around 2.8 million tonnes in 2018. This may seem modest compared to the UK, 8.5 million tonnes of demand in 2018 and indeed, Drax’s own 5 million tonnes self-supply by 2027 goals.

While the recently concluded COP 25 global climate conference in Madrid, Spain may have a disappointment, COP25 does as David Newman, President of the World Biogas Association (WBA) recently pointed out, show “which countries are most and which are least committed” to the Paris Agreements.

From that perspective, the proposed European Green Deal announced by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is generally a more promising ambition – become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 – although the partners of the DecarbHeat Initiative stress that the decarbonisation of the heating sector will be a crucial success factor.

The DecarbHeat folks, which include all renewable heat stakeholders (solar, geothermal, heat pump, biomass, pellets, and biogas), are of course right. The use of pellets is not confined to replacing coal in retrofitted power plants and in the Nordics, district heat, ideally from a CHP plant, and residential heating are two important sectors.

According to Bioenergy Europe, in 2017, the residential sector represented 21 percent of the total final energy consumption in the EU (excluding electricity consumption) and only 23 percent of the energy consumption of households (excluding electricity) was from renewables, mainly bioenergy at 87 percent.

There is an urgent need to decarbonise the residential sector further and pellets offer one important solution not least in combination with other renewables and technologies.

ÖkoFEN (left) officially launched its e-power concept. Guntamatic (right) showcased a number hybrid combinations.

At ISH 2017, ÖkoFEN (left) officially launched its e-power concept. Guntamatic (right) showcased hybrid combinations.

Figures from Bioenergy Europe’s eminent statistical reports also illustrate the potential for pellet use in industry. In 2017 industries represented 16 percent of the final energy consumption in the EU (excluding electricity consumption), and only 13 percent of this was from renewables, almost entirely bioenergy (99 percent). Bioenergy, due to its competitiveness and non-intermittency is one of the best solutions for industrial requirements.

Industrial process heat is an important and growing market, especially in Sweden – a direct result of the carbon tax for non-ETS industries (≈EUR 114 per tonne carbon dioxideCO2, the same as for consumers coupled with the Environment Protection Agency’s Climate Step investment grant programme).

The advantage for pellet producers is that demand from an industrial process heat client is much more stable, unlike the seasonal ambient temperature-driven residential heat or even district heat markets.

These topics and much more will be discussed in Uppsala, Sweden on February 4-5, at Nordic Pellets 2020 which includes optional study tours to either:

  • Wiks Castle – best described as a large residence heated with a newly commissioned 2 x 499 kW pellet boilers, or
  • Vattenfall’s Bolandsverket combined heat and power (CHP) plant  – a 120 MWth boiler retrofitted with multi-fuel burners for wood powder (ground pellets) and bio-oil (the project was presented at the 2019 edition of Nordic Pellets).

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