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Some USIPA takeaways

Wrapping up on the day of US Presidential election, this year’s edition of USIPA Exporting Pellets conference honed in on Japan, alternative “non-subsidised” markets along with safety, sustainability and communication.

Seth Ginther, Executive Director, USIPA opening the 6th USIPA Exporting Pellets Conference.

Seth Ginther, Executive Director, USIPA opening the 6th USIPA Exporting Pellets Conference.

Perhaps Henry Pease Biofuels Trading, RWE Supply & Trading and moderator for the European power generation session summed up the conference best in his opening remarks day one.

– We used to be the first panel discussion of the conference, now we were the last on the day, he noted wondering if there was any correlation between European utilities having a slow year and the conference programme.

In keeping with tradition John Bingham, Hawkins Wright gave a whirlwind global review of policy drivers behind current and potential markets for industrial pellets with a particular focus on the UK and Asia. This was followed by a panel session on two UK biomass power projects going forward, Lynemouth and MGT.

John Bingham, Hawkins Wright, putting wood pellets into perspective, 0.1 percent of global primary energy.

John Bingham, Hawkins Wright, putting wood pellets into perspective, 0.1 percent of global primary energy.

Japan was up next and there would seem to be little doubt that the country represents a growth market opportunity for US and other white pellet producers. However, as noted during the International Energy Agency (IEA), Bioenergy Task 40 presentation, black pellets also have an opportunity and not just in Japan but also in the US with the current trials in Boardman, Oregon a case in point.

Breaking with USIPA convention and alluded to by Keppler, Enviva in his opening remarks a teaser session on “non-subsidised markets”. A Nordic duo, Lena Bruce, Sveaskog and Jaakko Jokinen, Pöyry drove home the power of consumer brands and how brand owners are driving replacement of fossil-derived components with bio-based ones ranging from advanced biofuels and detergents to lingerie.

This tied well into the overall “pellets part of the climate solution, keeping forests as forests and jobs in rural communities” message that several speakers spoke on. Not just at a corporate level like Drax Biomass and Enviva, but also at a forest industry level with speakers from National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) and US Endowment for Forests and Communities.

An update on carbon legislation in US Congress and election day, Jane Alonso, Vice President of Government Relations, National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO).

An update on carbon legislation in US Congress and election day, Jane Alonso, Vice President of Government Relations, National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO).

Of course, this only makes perfect sense since “a tree does not care about what it becomes” as Carlton Owen President and CEO of the latter organisation pointed out. And all forest owners and forest industry stakeholders, including pellets, share a common interest in keeping forests as forests. Thus rallying behind a collective communication strategy can only be of benefit to all.

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