Market Snapshot: Canadian wood pellet exports grew 46% between 2015 and 2016

Release date: 2017-11-15

Exports of wood pellets are increasing, and in 2016 increased by 46% over 2015. Wood pellets are a type of biomass fuel often produced from forestry waste such as wood shavings, bark, and sawdust. In addition to creating value from a waste product, wood pellets can be renewable,Footnote 1 are easy to transport, and are more efficient to combust than wood.

Canada produces wood pellets which can be used as a fuel source for electricity generation and heating.Footnote 2 Most Canadian wood pellets are exported to other countries. These exports increased in 2016 in response to growing global demand for biomass-fired electricity generation to replace coal-fired generation. Annual wood pellet exports increased by 73% in the last five years, growing from 1 369 million kilograms (kg) in 2012 to 2 373 million kg in 2016. Canada is now the second largest wood pellet exporter by weight after the United States (U.S.).

Source and Description

Source: Statistics Canada

Description: This stacked column chart illustrates the top nations for Canadian exports of wood pellets from 2012 to 2016. The UK is the largest export market, accounting for 794 million kg in 2012 and 1 664 million kg in 2016. Japan, the second largest export market has grown from 106 million kg in 2012 to 272 million kg in 2016. The third largest export market is the U.S., where Canadian exports have grown from 87 million kg in 2012 to 170 million kg in 2016. Exports to other markets have declined from 382 million kg in 2012 to 266 million kg in 2016.

The primary destinations for Canadian wood pellets are the United Kingdom (U.K.), Japan, and the U.S. In 2016, these countries accounted for about 70%, 11%, and 7% of Canada’s exports, respectively. The remaining 12% was exported to 11 other countries. Increasing wood pellet exports to the U.K. were partially explained by the U.K.’s planned initiative to phase-out coal generation by 2025.Footnote 3 Biomass generation can displace coal generation, particularly because wood pellets can be burned in converted coal boilers.Footnote 4 Higher wood pellet exports to the U.S. were partially a response to growing biomass electricity generation in the United States.

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