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South Korea and Japan will become large importers of pellets and energy chips in the coming decade
Both Japan and South Korea intend to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. As a consequence, both countries will increase their importation of wood pellets and energy chips from other countries in Asia and from North America in the coming years.
South Korea has access to wood residues from the domestic sawmilling industry, which could be used for the manufacturing of pellets. This domestic supply, however, will not be sufficient, so South Korea will need to increase pellet imports in order to meet the ambitious 6.1% goal only eight years from now. The government estimates that by 2020, 75-80 percent of pellets consumed in the country will need to be imported. Some of the major energy companies in South Korea have reportedly been exploring the opportunities to import pellets from Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Canada and the US.
Japan is another Asian country expected to increase importation of energy chips and wood pellets, due in part to the nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima last year. Following the disaster, the Japanese government decided to close down all nuclear plants, at least temporarily. Even if a few plants eventually reopen, nuclear energy will never again be as important for energy production as it once was.
In the future, Japan will increasingly rely on renewable energy sources, with biomass likely to be one important supply source. Up until this year, Japan has imported only very limited volumes of wood pellet, primarily from Canada, but it is likely that import volumes of both pellets and energy chips will increase in the coming years.
Global pulpwood and timber market reporting is included in the 52-page quarterly publication Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ). The report, established in 1988 and with subscribers in over 25 countries, tracks sawlog, pulpwood, lumber and pellet prices and market developments in most key regions around the world. To subscribe to the WRQ, please go to www.woodprices.com