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US Forest Service Research & Development
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  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

North America's pellet sector

Snapshot : The U.S. Forest Products Laboratory's nationwide mission to assess the wood sector's status and trends placed this research within its sphere. In collaboration with the Endowment for Forest Communities, through the University of Tennessee, a comprehensive enumeration of all major existing and prospective pellet plants in the United States and Canada was carried out with definition of the sector's regional distribution, fiber requirements, employment, and production capabilities.

Research Location : U.S. and Canada
Research Station : Forest Products Laboratory (FPL)
Year : 2010
Highlight ID : 187

Summary

With the proliferation of state Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) the prospects for woody biomass as a fuel have grown. An RPS is a state policy requiring electricity providers to obtain a minimum percentage of power from renewable energy resources by a certain date. Increased demand for woody biomass for heat and energy has manifested in the rapid growth of wood pellet plants which acquire and process woody by-products from existing wood manufacturing facilities such as sawmills and millwork factories. This, however, represents a potential threat to existing users of such material such as particleboard and fiberboard manufacturers. As the size of pellet plants increased, it became obvious that needs for biomass could not be met by residues alone and would require procurement of roundwood as well, posing a new competitive factor for pulp producers. Thus an assessment of the growing pellet sector and its potential impacts on existing biomass streams was timely.

The U.S. Forest Products Laboratory's nationwide mission to assess the wood sector's status and trends placed this research within its sphere. In collaboration with the Endowment for Forest Communities, through the University of Tennessee, a comprehensive enumeration of all major existing and prospective pellet plants in the United States and Canada was carried out with definition of the sector's regional distribution, fiber requirements, employment, and production capabilities. As a result of this study there is now a historical timeline of the development of this sector up to 2009 and its growth prospects beyond (see figure). This information serves the needs of both the pellet sector and the existing woody residue and low-value roundwood users to determine their fiber procurement policies and plan their plant siting decisions.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • University of Tennessee

Research Topics

Priority Areas

  • Resource Management and Use
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