In the EU-28, 20,2 million tonnes of wood pellets were consumed in 2015. The majority of the consumption was for heat production, representing 63,9%. Pellet consumption for heat can be further divided into three markets – residential heating (42,2%), commercial heating (15,7%) and heat generated from CHP (6%). The remaining 36,1% of wood pellets were used for power production. It should be noted that the technologies for producing energy out of pellets for heat, electricity or both, are mature, offering efficient and reliable processes.
Between 2014 and 2015, pellet consumption for heating increased by 4,2%, despite mild winters and low oil prices. The use of wood pellets for energy has effected all heat markets across the EU-28 Member States. Italy was the biggest consumer of pellets using 3,1 million tonnes in 2015 for heat production. Among the top 5 pellet consuming Member States, the proportion of wood pellet use varies. In Italy, Germany and France, the majority of wood pellet use goes to the residential heating market, representing 92%, 58% and 95% respectively. In Denmark, 56% of wood pellets are used in CHP plants for heating production and in Sweden, 60% of pellets go to heating installations for commercial purposes. Among all the heating market segments, commercial heating is often seen as the one offering the highest potential. Unfortunately, there is a clear lack of awareness about the potential to use pellets in sectors such as industry or services (hotels, swimming pools or public buildings).
Wood pellet consumption for power is rising in the EU-28, increasing by 14,9% between 2014 and 2015. In contrast with the heat market, the power market of wood pellets is rather concentrated in a couple of Member States. The United Kingdom is the biggest consumer of wood pellets for power production. Its consumption for power production increased by 21,4% between 2014 and 2015. Belgium is the second biggest consumer for power production, representing 1,1 million tonnes. Between 2014 and 2015, wood pellet consumption for power sky-rocketed in Belgium. Unlike the United Kingdom and Belgium, for the other big consumers, wood pellet consumption for power was rather slow. In Denmark, pellet use for power stagnated in 2015, while in Sweden it decreased by 25,7% and Germany observed a slight increase. The technologies used for electricity production differ from country to country: the United Kingdom, Belgium and Netherlands are converting dedicated power plants, while the Nordic States are converting CHP plants.