SEATTLE - Growing wood pellet capacity in the U.S. South has made the U.S. the largest exporter in the world. Export volumes are forecast to nearly quadruple from an estimated 1.5 million tons this year to 5.7 million tons in 2015, says the North American Wood Fiber Review.

North American wood pellet exports come mostly from the U.S. South and British Columbia.  They reached a record high of 760,000 tons in the second quarter, says a report from the North American Wood Fiber Review.

Shipments from a new port facility in Virginia for wood pellet maker Enviva, and added volume from Low Country Biomass in South Carolina have contributed to the growth in exports over the past 15 months, says the report, leading the U.S. to surpass Canada to become the world’s largest exporter in 2012.

Three companies announced plans for constructing pellet plants in the state of Georgia last quarter, and six other pellet export plants are already under construction from Virginia to Texas

Canadian shipments of pellets to Europe are up 14% in the second quarter, where pellets are being used in coal fired plants to reduce the impact of CO2 emissions and ween Germany from nuclear power.

Reports are that British Columbia pellet plants are running at full capacity due to European demand. 

In the U.S. South, pellet export volumes rose 13% in the second quarter, despite temporary slowdowns at Georgia Biomass due to fires at a U.S. port and at a pellet consumer in the United Kingdom. Conversion of wood biomass to fuel has been a cause of concern for manufacturers of panel products, who use the same resource as raw material.

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