Wood pellets is the product made of saw mills residues including saw dust, wood shavings, residual pieces of the saw logs left from sawn goods production. Wood pellets can be also made of the whole logs which on several reasons may not be used for pulp and paper production or - as saw logs. In the most of the cases timber for wood pellet production is coming from the sanitary cutting of the forests ,but in some cases the wood from the total cutting maybe also used ,as for example in some areas in Southern States of USA where the forest has been traditionally grown by the farmers as their main production. During last 15 years quite a lot of US pulp and paper industries has been closed and new paper mills opened in Asia. In connection to this fact big volumes of forest specially grown for pulp and paper production purposes have lost their market value and are offered by the forest owners for wood pellet production. Wood pellet plants in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, South and North Carolina are successfully using at the moment these forest resources.
Wood pellets for energy production are divided into 2 big groups. The first one is Industrial wood pellets which are used for power and heating plants for electricity and/or heat production. Second group are pellets used for heat production in the private houses and small heating plants, so called “prime quality” or EN Plus pellets.
Main producers of wood pellets in Europe are Sweden, Latvia, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Estonia, Russia, Lithuania, Poland, France, Austria. Biggest importers of industrial pellets in Europe are Belgium, UK, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark. Biggest end users of EN Plus pellets are Italy, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark.
Wood pellets have to be produced only from raw materials coming from sustainable sources. Nowdays there are worked out sustainability criteria for whole countries, for all big and small companies. Everybody involved into the production, trading and burning wood pellets, including transport companies (custody chain), have to be certified by special authorities and obtain FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council®) or some other certification, as SBP and PEFC. Time to time end users of the pellets are obliged to perform sustainability audits in the pellet plants which are done by representatives of Control and Auditor companies.