Demand for waste wood increases the chase for alternative fuels, Geminor says


Energy shortage and tougher competition across Europe are leading to record-high prices for waste wood, Geminor says.

The international recycling company continues that as winter is getting closer, the search for waste wood and new alternative fuels is more intensive than ever.

The steadily declining business activity in Europe, in combination with trade boycotts of Russia and Belarus, has led to a sharp drop in volumes of waste wood, Geminor says, and as supply falls, prices strengthen throughout Europe this autumn.

CEO of Geminor, Kjetil Vikingstad, said: “In several regions, the price of the best qualities of waste wood is now close to 100 Euros per tonne. This creates challenges both within material recycling and energy recovery, which in practice is competing for the same waste wood.

“Not only does waste wood become more expensive, but it also becomes more challenging to obtain. In Germany alone, we estimate that the supply will fall by around 2 million tonnes this year, and England and France also report deficits in waste wood.

“Unfortunately, we expect a further deterioration during the winter, as inflation and increased interest rates also affect access.”

Unfortunately, we expect a further deterioration during the winter, as inflation and increased interest rates also affect access.

Vikingstad says the market for waste wood is complex for several reasons. Not only is waste wood attractive in both material recycling and energy recovery, they say there are also various regulations for the recycling of waste wood within the EU.

“In countries such as Norway and Denmark, public tenders demand a high share of material recycling, which has led to increased exports to the panelboard industry. Waste wood is an attractive raw material for recycling because it normally makes up a large proportion of the municipalities’ total waste volumes, and thus makes it easier to meet targets and requirements for material recycling.”

“Being part of the energy recovery and recycling industries, we must do what we can to facilitate the best possible utilisation of existing volumes of wood. This includes the further development of our services within biomaterials, but also finding new waste fractions that can be good alternatives to waste wood.”

Geminor argues that as waste wood is exempt from CO2 taxation in countries, such as Sweden, this also increases the interest for wood as fuel in district heating plants.

The company says that few, if any, countries are hit as hard by the lack of waste wood as Sweden as Swedes have regulations that facilitate the efficient use of waste wood and various types of biofuel in energy production, and many incineration plants have boilers designed only to receive waste wood and biofuel.

In 2021 alone, Geminor says 21 TWh of energy for district heating production was based on wood and biofuel and close to 46% of this was based on biofuels, such as bark and chips.

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