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Japan wood pellet imports will reach 2.1 million tons in 2020

Date: 12/07/2020 08:40:28 From: Clicks:

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According to a report submitted by the Global Agricultural Information Network of the Foreign Agricultural Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, Japan imported a record 1.6 million tons of wood pellets last year, mainly from Vietnam and Canada. It is estimated that wood pellet imports in 2020 will reach 2.1 million tons. Japan's feed-in tariff (FIT) program supports the use of wood pellets in power generation.

Wood pellet production
Wood pellet production

However, imported wood pellets are not the only source of woody biomass used to fuel Japanese power plants. The report explains that in order to achieve its 2030 greenhouse gas (GHG) emission target, Japan allocates 120 billion yen (1.1 billion US dollars) each year for sparse and selective logging of approximately 520,000 hectares (1.28 million acres) of private and public land. The resulting wood is used for construction and power generation.

Japan’s domestic wood biomass production is 10.2 million tons of backbone metric tons (BDt). Most of this is consumed as wood chips. Japan also produced 147,000 metric tons of wood pellets last year, an increase of 12.1% over 2018.

Last year, the country imported a total of 3.7 million BDt of wood biomass, including 2 million BDt of palm kernel shell (PKS). PKS importers accounted for 2.51 million tons in 2019, an increase of 41.8% over 2018. The import volume of wood pellets last year was 1.61 million tons, an increase of 52.3% over 2018. In 2019, about 55% of Japan's wood pellet imports came from Vietnam, while 36.5% came from Canada. As of October 2020, the United States has not yet begun to export commercial-scale wood pellets to Japan. According to the report, PKS is most commonly used in medium-sized biomass power plants, while large-scale biomass power plants prefer to use wood pellets due to their higher supply reliability.

The report stated that Japan's goal is to meet at least 4.6% of its electricity demand through biomass power generation by 2030. As of December 2019, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has approved 372 biomass power plants with a total installed capacity of 8,665 megawatts (MW). However, the report pointed out that only 179 wood-based biomass power plants are in operation, generating only 2,368 MW, accounting for approximately 27.3% of the FIT’s approved capacity. According to the report, the difficulty in obtaining reliable sources of wood biomass raw materials is the main reason for the delay in the development of many approved trust investment projects. Last year, Japanese power plants consumed an estimated 12.9 million BDt biomass, an increase of more than 50% compared to 2015.

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