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Doctoral thesis, 2012

Wood fuel markets in Northern Europe

Olsson, Olle


High fossil fuel prices and ambitions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have increased demand for renewable energy and are changing wood fuel market structures. Wood fuels are to a rapidly growing degree used in industrial proportions and traded in commercial markets. Wood fuels are seen as a key component to achieve policy goals related to climate change, especially in the EU. In the six papers that form the basis for this thesis, prices of wood fuels in Northern Europe are analyzed by means of time series analysis to increase understanding about the factors that govern market development. In Paper I, it is found that whereas the Austrian and German residential-quality wood pellet markets are integrated, Sweden is a separate market. The conclusion from Paper II is that despite a long history of trade in wood fuels between Estonia and Sweden, the two markets cannot be considered integrated. The results from Paper III indicate that refined and unrefined wood fuels should be seen as two separate markets, and that forest chips prices follow different trajectories depending on whether they are used in district heating or in forest industries. In Paper IV, it is acknowledged that although high and volatile oil prices are an important driver for the growth in demand for wood fuels, no significant spillover from oil price developments into Swedish wood fuel prices could be discerned in the time period 1993-2010. In Paper V, the conclusion is that prices of industrial roundwood and unrefined wood fuels followed a common trend in Sweden in the first decade of the 21st century. Paper VI shows that there is a significantly higher level of market maturity and internationalization in the Danish wood pellet market compared to the wood chip market in the country. In conclusion, this thesis uncovers some of the mechanisms that affect wood fuel markets, including the differences between unrefined wood fuels – such as wood chips – and the dynamic market for wood pellets. Whereas unrefined wood fuel markets still are mainly national, wood pellet markets are becoming internationalized. As for external impacts on wood fuel prices, the influence of forest products markets seem hitherto have been more important than oil price fluctuations. Wood fuels can be an important part of the future European energy system, but the complexities of the markets must be understood more thoroughly to ensure efficient resource utilization.


Bioenergy; wood fuels; market integration; price formation; time series analysis; prices; cointegration

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2012, number: 2012:39
ISBN: 978-91-576-7675-7
Publisher: Skogsmästarskolan, Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet

Authors' information

Olsson, Olle
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, School for Forest Management

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science
Renewable Bioenergy Research

URI (permanent link to this page)