SEATTLE — North American Wood Fiber Review (NAWFR) reports prices for woody biomass were higher in the 3Q of 2010 than the previous quarter for most of the regions throughout the United States. NAWFR looked at sawmill byproducts, forest residues and urban wood waste.

In its report, NAWFR said the Northwest saw the biggest increase, up 19 percent from  2Q in 2010. In the past few years, there has been an expansion of both of stand-alone facilities and for energy plants in conjunction with pulp mills and sawmills. This development has resulted in a decline in open-market volumes of sawmill biomass (bark and wood fiber residues) and there is starting to be an increased need to source additional volumes of higher-cost forest biomass and even urban recycled wood from the larger metropolitan areas in both Oregon and Washington.

California, home to the largest concentration of stand-alone biomass plants in North America, was one of the few states where BCAP (the Biomass Crop Assistance Program) money seemed to function as intended earlier this year, namely to bring out additional volumes of forest residues. With the absence of the BCAP incentives, average woody biomass prices in the 3Q returned to pre-BCAP levels of 2009.

In the Northeast, the 3Q found biomass plants receiving lower income due to relatively low demand for power in the region. Prices for feedstock, in reaction, drifted lower in part also due to plentiful inventories left over from 2Q. Forest biomass prices have trended downward since early 2009 and are currently 22 percent below the 1Q/09, reports NAWFR.

Demand for woody biomass in the South has slowly increased the past few years as more energy plants have decided to add green energy to their portfolio of alternative energy sources. As a result, NAWFR reports, biomass prices have trended upward the past four years and were almost 50 percent higher in the 2010 3Q as compared to early 2007. This trend is likely to continue because of the expansion of biomass plants that is expected in the region in the coming years.

Posted by Karen Koenig

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