Over 30 pellet plants in Spain with a production capacity exceeding 800,000 t/year
There are over 30 pellet factories in Spain with capacity over 10,000 t/year operating or ready to operate, and 7 plants have closed, been sold or have stopped production for over a year, either because they were obsolete or because the real market has not met their expectations.
There is also an indeterminate number of smaller plants, of around 4,000 t/year, spread out over the whole of Spain, normally linked to saw mills or carpentry workshops.
Taking all the factories into account (included those that are closed but not dismantled) the potential production capacity exceeds 800,000 t/year, although actual production is still far from reaching this potential.
According to the companies, production increases each year and plants are currently working, on average, at 30% of capacity (around 240,000 t/year). To offset the high production costs, due mainly to electricity, some producers have installed cogeneration units.
According to the Renewable Energies Action Plan, Spain should consume from 9 to 11 million annual tons of biomass for heating in 2020. This target is achievable taking available biomass into account (each year only 29% of available forest biomass is used).
It is difficult to estimate current consumption of wood pellets in Spain as there are no official figures and producers are reluctant to make this kind of data public. The latest figure (2010) from the Apropellets producers association states that consumption was 60,000 t/year. Propellets Austria and Pelletsatlas put Spain's internal consumption at 95,000 in 2010.
In all events, the pellets market in Spain is limited and not big enough to absorb all the production, which forces a high proportion of production to be exported. Domestic pellets are exported to Portugal, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Italy and France. Italy is the main importer, consuming 60% of the total annual Spanish production. Regarding industrial pellets, customers are mainly in the United Kingdom, Belgium and Sweden.
Price and quality
In the last 4 years the price of Spanish pellets has stayed at the same level. A 15 kg bag has an average cost of €4.10, for pellets with a certain quality guarantee. A pallet loaded with 70 or 75 sacks of 15 kg costs around €245, which means that buying in this format can reduce the bag price by about 8%. When quality is not guaranteed and/or the pellets are not certified, the price tends to be lower.
Pellets produced in Spain are generally of good quality, with an energy content of over 16.5 MJ/kg and ash content under 0.5%, although it would be desirable to improve some physical aspects such as their durability and fines content.
AVEBIOM is the national association that supports the ENplus® certification system and manages the brand in Spain, whilst AENOR is the certifying body. There are now 5 certified producers, which represents 35% of installed Spanish production capacity (around 300,000 tons).
Further information: www.bioenergyinternational.es