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Doctoral thesis, 2000

Wood pellet use in Sweden : a systems approach to the residential sector

Vinterbäck, Johan


This empirically based thesis deals with a biofuel market in a systems context with focus on Sweden. Fuel pellets is a new consumer market for wood products. Initially used mainly by large-scale heating plants, wood pellets expanded into the Swedish residential heating market in the mid 1990s. The overall aim of this work is to provide a deeper understanding of the system for small-scale use of densified wood fuels. The objective was to provide a mapping and logistic analysis of fuel and delivery chains primarily for wood pellets. The description includes both technical as well as economic and organisational aspects. The thesis in particular investigates i) experience from practical densification operations in the past, ii) wood pellet retailers in Sweden, iii) wood pellet consumers in Austria, Sweden and the United States, iv) imports of wood pellets, and v) forecasting of pellet consumption and inventory management for wood pellet distributors.
Previous international studies revealed that the availability of cheap raw materials for fuel production and the price and availability of the most important competing fuels: coal, oil and natural gas were important factors that have guided production and use of densified wood and bark fuels. A major network of wood pellet distributors was mapped. It was concluded from a survey to these retailers that the Swedish residential market was now firmly in place and that the price of wood pellets was competitive with prices of traditional national fuels. A majority of pellet users in Austria, Sweden and the United States were pleased with pellet heating.
​​​​​​​One way to improve pellet distribution systems would be to optimise inventory management. An internal model for optimising inventory management, Pell-Sim, was constructed. For Sweden, wood pellets in 1997 represented the second most traded biofuel assortment, with 4.35 PJ or 18% of the total biofliel imports. Contrary to trade with other biofuel assortments, wood pellet trade was found to be intercontinental. There is a scope for further international exchange of knowledge about pellets and pellet technology.


biofuels; distribution; fuel trade; residential fuel market; storage; systems; upgraded fuel; wood fuel; wood pellet; wood processing residues; wood product

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae. Silvestria
2000, number: 152
ISBN: 91-576-5886-2
Publisher: Department of Forest Management and Products, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

      SLU Authors

    • Vinterbäck, Johan

      • Department of Forest Management and Products, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Renewable Bioenergy Research

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