Switzerland is considered one of the smaller and less developed pellet markets. This is true when only absolute numbers are taken into account: The Swiss association “Holzenergie Schweiz” estimates the installed production capacities at 171,000 tons and the consumption in the winter of 2008/2009 at 90,000 tons (Keel 2008). However, considering the resulting per capita values of pellet consumption of around 12 kg per person, Switzerland becomes comparable to Germany.
Similar to Germany and Austria, wood pellets are mostly used in small scale applications for heating purposes in the residential sector. This market has great potential due to good raw material availability and a professional wood energy image campaign organized by “Holzenergie Schweiz”. The pellet trading infrastructure is well developed and end-consumers are supplied reliably.
One difference to Germany is that there are no large pellet producers (> 100,000 tons per year). Pellet production takes place mainly at wood processing businesses that use their own by-products. Consequently, there are a number of small producers (< 10,000 tons per year) and two medium scale producers of which one buys raw materials for pellet production. Some of the producers will expand their capacities while all of them state that their current capacities are not fully used.
Nevertheless it is estimated that 10 – 20 % of the domestic demand is satisfied by imported pellets (Keel 2008). This can be explained by looking at the price development of pellets. The prices as evaluated by the organisation “Transan” show relatively stable prices with reasonable fluctuations between summer and winter. The price in February 2008 was the same as it was in February 2009. Looking at the same prices converted to EUR shows that due to fluctuations of exchange rates the prices for wood pellets rose by € 20 per ton within one year and are extraordinary high compared to prices e.g. in Germany. Therefore, pellet import to Switzerland becomes attractive.
Please refer to the Publication section for a comprehensive report on the Swiss pellet market.