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Japanese imports of pellets, biomass expected to increase

Japan recently filed a report with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Information

Network, noting the country imported a record 347,000 metric tons of wood pellets last year for thermal

power generation. Pellet imports expected to increase in the coming years. According to the report, the

number of small- and mid-scale biomass power plants using wood materials, including pellets, is increasing

under Japan’s feed-in tariff (FIT) system.
The report explains that Japan’s FIT incentive for biomass power has driven a rapid increase in demand for biomass,

including domestic and imported pellets, along with imports of palm kernel shells. While the country has abundant

biomass resources, they are uneconomic to harvest and transport. As a result, imports of wood pellets and palm

kernel shells used for cofiring are expected to increase. The report also indicates Japan is considering the

establishment of environmental sustainability standards for biomass products.
In 2015, Japan had 142 pellet plants that produced a combined 120,000 metric tons of wood pellets. Most of

Japan’s pellet plants are small, with annual capacities of 100 to 1,000 metric tons per year. The report notes

2015 production was down 4.8 percent when compared to 2014 due to reduced heating demand. Next year,

domestic wood pellet production is expected to reach record-high levels due to the expanded use of wood

pellets in cogeneration systems.
Wood pellet imports reached 347,000 metric tons last year, up 49 percent when compared to 2015. Of that

volume, 261,000 metric tons, or 75 percent, were imported from Canada, with 18 percent imported from Vietnam

and 6 percent from China.
Imports of palm kernel shells reached 761,410 metric tons last year, up 67 percent from 2015. Indonesia and

Malaysia are the country’s primary suppliers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                 Source:Biomass Magazine