The latest figures for biomass production have been released, and they reveal a healthy market as of April 2018.
Per the Energy Information Administration, there were 630,000 tons of biomass fuel produced in April. Most of it – 600,000 tons – was sold. The figures were compiled from 87 biomass fuel manufacturers, excluding any facility with production capacity of less than 10,000 tons (who report annually rather than monthly).
The 630,000 tons of densified fuel came from 1.11 million tons of raw feedstock. Of the 630,000 tons, 114,115 tons were heating pellets and 512,682 were utility pellets, showing that the bulk of biomass fuel produced in the U.S. still goes to provide electrical power.
Most of the fuel was exported; exports totaled 478,246 at a price of $186.20 per ton on average. The rest was sold domestically at an average price of $146.43 per ton.
Current inventories stand as follows: 255,752 tons of premium/standard wood pellets; 355,438 tons of heating pellets. Both figures were up from numbers reported in March.
According to the report, there is a total biomass fuel production capacity of 12.52 million metric tons, with most of the capacity coming from the South. Producers are currently planning or building an additional 483,700 tons of capacity, which is 3.86% of current capacity.
The largest new production facility being planned or constructed currently is a plant in Georgia being developed by Blue Sky Biomass Georgia LLC that will have a total capacity of 340,000 tons per year. The next largest facility being planned/constructed is in Alabama: a 105,000 ton per year facility being developed by MRE Crossville LLC.
What the report shows is a healthy and growing market. Domestically, demand is stable; globally, demand is increasing as biomass energy is becoming more desirable for governments looking to shift their countries away from fossil fuels.
As state legislatures start to look more into biomass to add to their energy portfolios, domestic demand will likely increase, particularly if the national political environment changes as a result of 2018 and 2020 elections.
ProcessBarron engineers, constructs, and installs air, ash, and material handling equipment for biomass plants. Contact the team for more information.