The large potential for pellet production and consumption in France is not reflected by the comparably slow market development. On the other hand, the slow growth in France avoided inconsistencies concerning pellet supply.
The climate in France is variable depending on the region which offers opportunities for both pellet boiler and stove usage. Barriers to stronger growth in this sector are that the use of wood for energy purposes does not have a strong tradition in urban and sub-urban areas and that the prices for electricity and gas are regulated at a comparably low level. Furthermore, pellet appliances are produced only by a few companies in France and installers (who are a main driver in other countries) do not promote pellet heating systems. In 2008, the total pellet consumption in France was around 200,000 tons. This is accounted for exclusively by the residential sector since pellet use for power generation is not reported.
This demand is satisfied by around 60 small and medium scale companies who produced around 240,000 tons in 2008. They can be saw millers or feed producers but more recently, also dedicated pellet producers are emerging who collect raw materials from a number of small saw mills.
The quality of French production was heterogeneous in the past and did not promote a good development of the market. An important evolution has occurred and most of the current producers are in the process of quality certification. Since early 2009, French standards are now also available, associated to the brand name “Norme Française” better known by the French consumers than the German DINplus. This development is also supported by the newly founded French pellet producer organisation (SNPGB: Syndicat National des Producteurs de Granulés de Bois).
France imported around 20,000 tons of wood pellets last year (from Germany, Spain, etc) and exported around 35,000 tons to Italy, UK and some other countries. French production is currently mostly dedicated to serve the French market, imports and exports acting more as balancing tools between offer and demand.