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The Voice of Canada’s growing pellet sector
  • Video: Heating with Wood Pellets

    Heating with wood pellets is an effective way to help in the fight against climate change.

  • Video: Wood Pellet Association of Canada

    Existing coal plants can be cost-effectively repurposed to use wood pellet fuel to help the environment and reduce air pollution.

  • Pellets

    Made from renewable forest byproducts and unmerchantable material, wood pellets from Canada provide a renewable, sustainable fuel source for generations to enjoy. | Read More

  • Sustainable

    Only 9% of the world’s forest are certified. Over 42% of them are in Canada, making it an ideal source for sustainable wood pellets. | Read More

  • Renewable

    WPAC members rely on sawmill waste and forest harvest residuals for the bulk of their fibre supply, allowing 100% resource use. | Read More

  • Fossil Fuel Alternative

    Whether on their own or co-fired with coal, wood pellets provide a lower carbon footprint and renewable energy source. | Read More

  • Innovative

    WPAC continues to support R&D in key wood pellet areas like safety, efficiency, fuel stability, energy content and more. | Read More

May 15, 2018 - WPAC participated on a wood pellet trade mission to Italy from Feb.19–23. This mission was organized by Ralph Spaans, secondary wood product specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry; Patrizia Giuliotti, trade commissioner for the Embassy of Canada to Italy; and myself, Gordon Murray. There were 16 participants including representatives of wood pellet producers from B.C., Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia; Ontario First Nations; banking and finance; and certification/inspection companies.

The group began the tour in Milan on Feb. 19. Travelling by bus, we first visited the municipality of Bulciago, north of Milan, where we met with the wood pellet trading companies Woodtech and Agrifor. We next visited Savichem in Fontana Fredda. Savichem is a major distributor of stoves and fuels. Savichem imports ENplus wood pellets, mainly from Austria. Then we travelled to Ravenna, where we met with Italy’s largest wood pellet importer, Adriacoke. We toured Adriacoke’s wood pellet bagging facilities and learned that the company is planning to install its own pelletizer to process fines generated from the handling of bulk wood pellets. Next on the agenda was Sitta Group in San Giovanni al Natisone. Sitta Group is a major Italian manufacturer of baby furniture and accessories. The company began manufacturing wood pellets using sawdust from its manufacturing operations, then branched out to include wood pellet importing and distribution.

The group ended the tour with a two-day visit to the Progetto Fuoco (Project Fire) exhibition where participants met with numerous pellet buyers. Progetto Fuoco is a huge event held every second year in Verona. It features seven large exhibition halls with hundreds of pellet producers, traders, and manufacturers of stoves, boilers, pellet barbeques, pizza ovens, and every other kind of wood pellet appliance imaginable.

There were several key takeaways from the Italian mission:

• Italy experienced three warm winters in a row from 2014–2016, which temporarily slowed pellet demand in the country. For the past two winters, temperatures have normalized, enabling pellet demand to recover.

• Industry participants were not able to give a precise figure for the size of Italian wood pellet market. Annual consumption is estimated to be between 2.5 and 3 million tonnes and is expected to double over the next five years. Presently about 90 per cent of wood pellets are imported.

• The Italian wood pellet market is extremely fragmented. There are hundreds of brands available. Adriacoke, who is the largest distributor, handles only 140 thousand tonnes annually, which is only about five per cent market share.

• There is significant concern about the size of the wood pellet black market, which is estimated to be between 200,000 and 300,000 tonnes per year. Participants use the black market to avoid a punishing 22 per cent value-added tax on wood pellets.

• The 22 per cent value-added tax was imposed in 2014, decreasing the advantage of wood pellets over natural gas. Nevertheless, wood pellets continue to be cheaper than gas.

• Wood pellet demand has grown in other parts of Europe, making it more difficult for Italy to import wood pellets from countries that have grown their own domestic markets. This has led to increased interest in residential-quality pellets from Canada.

• Wood pellet traders realize that they must purchase pellets year-round in order to maintain reliable supply. Traders indicate that they are willing to set prices annually to match the practice of the large supermarket chains that sell wood pellets to end consumers.

• ENplus quality certification is essential. Supermarkets in particular, want certified wood pellets so as to avoid consumer quality claims. Italian consumers also prefer light-coloured pellets, which they associate with pellets imported from Austria.

• Although Italian traders purchase wood pellets in bulk and in bags, they prefer bagged product because logistics are easier and because bulk pellets result in significant quantities of fine dust that must be disposed of.

• There are around 3.1 million installed wood pellet stoves in Italy and 12,000 boilers, a ratio of nearly 200:1. Pellets are predominantly sold in 15-kilogram bags while bulk pellet sales are practically non-existent. Even many boilers used bagged wood pellets. Pellet stove sales are growing at a rate of 5-10 per cent annually. The average pellet stove uses less than one tonne of wood pellets each year, compared to about four tonnes per year in Canada.

• The Italian government has introduced a program that enables taxpayers to recover 65 per cent of the cost of a pellet stove installation through their income tax returns.

• Inbound logistics: (1) bagged pellets are received by truck from Austria, Germany, France, Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland; (2) bagged pellets are received by train from Romania, Belarus, Ukraine, Netherlands, and Lithuania; (3) bagged pellets are received in shipping containers from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Tunisia, U.S., and Canada; and (4) bulk pellets are received in ocean vessels from Portugal, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, U.S. and Canada.

• Ballpark per tonne wholesale pricing, ex works (transportation paid by buyer): (1) bagged pellets received by truck is 133 euros; (2) bagged pellets received by train is 144 euros; (3) bagged pellets received by container is 121 euros; and (4) bulk pellets received by ocean vessel is 91 euros.

• Canadian wood pellets are regarded to be of the highest quality, but expensive. Consequently many unscrupulous Italian distributors are branding pellets as “Canadian”, even if the pellets are imported from elsewhere. Our only protection is to use the CANplus pellet certification brand in addition to ENplus. No pellet producer outside Canada is allowed to use the CANplus trademark.

• Air pollution from wood burning has become a political issue in Italy. The natural gas lobby has campaigned against wood pellets, saying the emissions from pellet stoves are the same as from the many old inefficient wood stoves that are still in service in Italy. Fortunately, Italy has passed a new “National Law for the Quality Classification of Biomass Heating Systems” which rates stoves on the basis of emissions performance for particulates, organic gases, nitrous oxides, and carbon monoxide. Pellet stoves have been found to be highly rated under the new law.

Italy remains the best option for those wishing to export residential quality pellets to Europe. Winter temperatures have returned to normal after three consecutive warmer than normal years. Pellet demand in other European countries has depressed their exports to Italy. Pricing remains somewhat challenging. Nevertheless, Canadian exporters should consider shipping at least a portion of their production to Italy as a means of diversifying their global market risk.

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Safety

WPAC Safety Committee

The Board of Directors has appointed the Safety Committee to manage the safety objectives of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada ("WPAC"). The Safety Committee works in close cooperation with the BC Forest Safety Council.

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Power Generation

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Sustainable power

The vast majority of Canadian wood pellets are made from sawmill residuals - sawdust. The rest are made from the residuals from harvesting operations for sawmills and pulp mills, or low-grade timber from forest industry harvest sites that has no other economic value. Think firewood. Read more...

Breathing easier - pellet emissions vs coal

Sustainability should be top of mind for any company that wants to stay in the game in today’s world.

As important a role as Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions play, we also need to focus on noxious emissions versus coal.

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Industry News

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  • Haida Gwaii hospital considers biomass boiler

    Nov. 12, 2018 - A local heating company is proposing the Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital switch from diesel-generated electric heating to a wood-fired biomass boiler. Ken Van Aalst, a director for Northern Health, told the Haida Gwaii Observer the proposal[…]

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  • Ottawa to reinvest funding after Ontario cancels cap and trade

    Nov. 9, 2018 - The Canadian government announced it plans to reinvest money allocated to Ontario as part of its Low Carbon Economy Fund after the Ontario government cancelled the cap and trade program last week.Canada's Minister of Environment and[…]

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The Pellet Advantage

Efficient and Plentiful Production

Wood Pellet Association of Canada members are world leaders in the design and operation of modern pellet plants.

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Innovating our way to a safer, better product

Wood pellets are a safe, reliable modern fuel. But they are still a fuel, requiring care in producing, shipping and storing.

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Renewable and sustainable? Energy really can grow on trees.

There is no single energy source capable of solving our dependence on fossil fuels. Instead we need to look to a mix of new fuels, including wood pellets.

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Argus Wood Pellet Index

US$ per metric tonneArgus Wood Pellet Index

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