The German pellet market is in many respects similar to the market in Austria. This is particularly so in relation to consumption, which displays the same structure with the exclusive use of pellets for heating, mainly delivered in bulk to households (In 2008, around 140,000 boilers, incl. central heating stoves were installed in total, DEPV).
With an annual pellet production of 1.46 million tons in 2008 and a production capacity of 2.4 million tons, Germany is considered to be one of the largest pellet markets (DEPV). However, with a pellet use of around 11 kg per person per year (50-60 kg in Austria), there seems to be potential for further market development.
After the boom years 2005 and 2006, when 17,000 and 26,000 pellet heating systems were sold in Germany per year, supply shortages and a rise of prices occurred in the winter of 2006/2007. The resulting loss of consumer confidence cooled down the market in 2007 so that only 13,000 pellet heating units were sold. The number of new installations increased again to 23,000 in 2008 (DEPV).
In 2008, 50 wood pellet producers were registered by the PELLETS@LAS project. However, there are certainly a number of non-registered small-scale producers. The total number of pellet producers might be around 70. Around 70 % of the registered companies produce in a small scale with production capacities of less than 30,000 tons per year. On the other hand, the large-scale producers (capacity: > 70,000 tons per year) represent around 60 % of the total pellet production capacity installed in Germany.
Small and medium-scale producers can be agricultural drying collectives and wood processing companies that use residuals for pellet production. Another type are small or medium companies that buy their raw materials from wood processing industries in their vicinity. Both types often operate their own regional distribution system and in some cases a brand name is used. In the small and medium scale there is a tendency towards forming networks. Several independent sites produce for a distribution network that sells pellets under well-established brand names. These networks can operate on regional or national level. The network not only provides the brand name and corporate identity but also a fleet of blower lorries and a network of retailers. Sometimes also a network of storage facilities is provided.
In the large scale, only three sites are known that are operated by wood industry companies. The other large-scale producers are dedicated pellet companies.
At least 90 % of the total pellet production capacities are certified for the production of DINplus pellets and it can be assumed that most of the pellets consumed in Germany are DINplus certified (around 900,000 tonnes in 2008). At least another 600,000 tonnes were exported in 2008. This fraction probably was of lower qualities, certainly those exported to be burned in large co-firing plants in Scandinavia, Belgium and the Netherlands.
In 2008, saw dust and chippings were still the mainly used raw material for pellet production in Germany. It can be assumed that small and medium scale producers mainly use these side-products, especially when they are operated in combination with other wood processing sites. However, it can be observed that a number of larger pellet producers broadened their raw material base in 2008 and used chipped wood as a major raw material source. This was inevitable in order to avoid raw material shortages in some areas. Some companies are also actively preparing for the use of short rotation wood in the near future.
Please refer to the Publication section for a comprehensive report on the German pellet market.