In 2008, pellets were produced at 25 sites in Austria. Pellet producers are mainly family-run sawmills whose by-products (Sawdust and wood shavings) are dried and pelletised on the spot. These pellet production plants are predominantly small and medium-sized but are often part of a large company structure. In most cases sawmills are the main business field.
In addition, some of the larger Austrian wood processing companies have subsidiaries in Eastern Europe (e.g. Romania and Slovakia) where they produce high quality pellets for the Austrian market.
The pellet production capacity increased from 410,000 tons in 2004 to about 1 million tons in 2008 which is twice as high as the domestic demand in 2008 (about 500,000). The real production amounted to 626,000 tons. For 2009 and 2010 the start-up of 7 more pellets plants is planned. Currently, the over-production is mainly bagged and exported to Italy.
The competition for raw materials intensifies due to a significant decline in timber sales. For that reason a number of producers are starting to use cutter chips for pellets production and some have made their production ready to convert wood logs into pellet feedstock. This of course also affects end-consumer prices. While pellet prices were comparably low in 2007 and 2008, price levels are high in 2009.
In Austria the pellet consumption market is mainly confined to the residential sector. With the end of 2008 nearly 63,000 boilers (automatically stocked; heat output of up to 50 kW) were installed in total. Until now, pellet stoves are of minor importance. Consequently, wood pellets are mainly traded in bulk and delivered by blower lorries (Source: proPellet Austria).
Please refer to the Publication section for a comprehensive report on the Austrian pellet market.