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  May 15th, 2021 | Written by

The Solid Biofuel Market Grows Steadily Despite the Pandemic

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  • In value terms, the U.S. ($1B) remains the largest solid biofuel supplier worldwide.
  • Exports from the U.S. increased at an average annual rate of +18.9% from 2012 to 2020.
  • The solid biofuel sector remained stable during the pandemic, buoyed by existing long-term supply contracts.

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Solid Biofuels – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The solid biofuel market continues to grow steadily. The pandemic generated financial and logistics problems for producers, but this failed to disrupt output, as a result of the consistent demand for long-term supply contracts. The production of wood pellets remains the fastest-developing segment on the solid biofuel market.

Key Trends and Insights

The solid biofuel sector remained stable during the pandemic, buoyed by existing long-term supply contracts. Despite facing disruptions in supply chains, constrained cash flows, and stagnating investment into new projects, solid fuel producers managed to sustain production levels and keep staff working.

The global pellet market grows rapidly with a CAGR of +11.9% a year over the past 8 years, emerging as the fastest-developing segment on the global solid biofuel market. Europe (44.8%) and North America (29.8%) remain major global pellet manufacturers (IndexBox estimates). China indicated the highest rate of production growth (with a CAGR of +31.1%) over the period from 2012 to 2020. Due to asynchronous quarantine measures in countries , the procurement of raw materials (sawdust) was disrupted, which emerged as a crucial issue for pellet manufacturers during the start of the pandemic in early 2020. Along with the ease of lockdowns in the second half of 2020, the supply chains were gradually readjusted.

The global charcoal market continued to expand at an average annual rate of +1.0% over the past 8 years and estimated at 56M tonnes (IndexBox estimates). The highest rate of consumption growth was observed in Africa (CAGR, +2.1%), the leading producer of wood charcoal worldwide (62%): in many low-income African countries, charcoal remains the main fuel available for cooking and daily living requirements.

According to IndexBox, the global solid biofuel market is forecast to reach 129.6M tonnes in the period to 2030 (this includes wood pellets and wood charcoal). The increasing demand for renewable fuels and the shifts towards a circular economy are set to remain the key market drivers. The use of plant residue (rice husks, straw, sugarcane, rapeseed, oil palm, and sugar beet etc.) as a raw material for the production of solid biofuel, is set to become increasingly prominent as a result of the robust crop yield.

Solid Biofuel Consumption by Country

The countries with the highest volumes of solid biofuel consumption in 2020 were the UK (9.4M tonnes), Brazil (6.6M tonnes) and China (5.2M tonnes), together comprising 21% of global consumption. Ethiopia, Nigeria, the U.S., the Netherlands, India, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Germany, Italy, France and Viet Nam lagged somewhat behind, together accounting for a further 32%.

In value terms, the largest solid biofuel markets worldwide were China ($5.4B), Ethiopia ($2.9B) and Brazil ($2.7B), together accounting for 28% of the global market. The UK, India, Nigeria, the U.S., the Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Viet Nam lagged somewhat behind, together comprising a further 26%.

The countries with the highest levels of solid biofuel per capita consumption in 2020 were the Netherlands (170 kg per person), the UK (139 kg per person) and Ethiopia (42 kg per person).

Solid Biofuel Exports by Country

The U.S. was the key exporter of solid biofuels in the world, with the volume of exports amounting to 7.3M tonnes, which was near 27% of total exports in 2020. Canada (2.9M tonnes) occupied an 11% share (based on tonnes) of total exports, which put it in second place, followed by Latvia (7.8%), Russia (6.2%), Denmark (5.4%) and Viet Nam (4.6%). The following exporters – Estonia (1,070K tonnes), Germany (784K tonnes), Poland (681K tonnes), Austria (652K tonnes), Lithuania (616K tonnes), Portugal (616K tonnes) and Indonesia (570K tonnes) – together made up 19% of total exports.

Exports from the U.S. increased at an average annual rate of +18.9% from 2012 to 2020. At the same time, Denmark (+50.4%), Poland (+16.0%), Indonesia (+12.0%), Estonia (+11.7%), Latvia (+11.0%), Russia (+10.6%), Canada (+9.8%), Lithuania (+9.0%), Viet Nam (+8.0%) and Austria (+3.9%) displayed positive paces of growth. Moreover, Denmark emerged as the fastest-growing exporter exported in the world, with a CAGR of +50.4% from 2012-2020. Portugal experienced a relatively flat trend pattern. By contrast, Germany (-1.4%) illustrated a downward trend over the same period.

In value terms, the U.S. ($1B) remains the largest solid biofuel supplier worldwide, comprising 19% of global exports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Canada ($408M), with a 7.6% share of global exports. It was followed by Latvia, with a 7.2% share.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

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