TotalEnergies inaugurated on Thursday near Rouen a site for loading and bagging wood pellets, a sector “under pressure” against the backdrop of the energy crisis, noted an AFP correspondent.
“This unit can process 25,000 tons of imported pellets per year. TotalEnergies has invested about 1.5 million euros in it,” explained François Boussagol, General Sales Manager of TotalEnergies Marketing France, during a press tour of the site located in Grand-Couronne, a suburb of Rouen.
TotalEnergies markets “about 200,000 tons of pellets” in France, a market share of “about 10% on the pellet, that is to say the wood pellet for boilers operating with this fuel,” said Boussagol.
This new equipment is “an additional flexibility that is essential in this period of tension in demand”, he said.
In late August, the French Federation of Fuel and Heating (FF3C) was alarmed by an “abnormally high” demand for pellets, in anticipation of winter, which could lead to a “deficit of supply of 5 to 15%”.
“I will not speak of shortage, but rather of a temporary tension on the supply,” continued Mr. Boussagol, specifying that this phenomenon was due to “the craze for this form of energy” and the “crisis in Ukraine which destabilizes the usual producers”, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia.
With the price of pellets almost doubling from 2021 to 2022, to about 600 euros/t according to TotalEnergies, the group wants to “triple” its sales “by 2030”.
In Grand-Couronne, these fuels are delivered to private customers and communities within a 200 km radius of Rouen. Produced in Northern Europe, “imported pellets come from sustainably managed forests,” TotalEnergies assures.
According to the group, “pellets emit 15 times less CO2 than domestic fuel. It makes it possible to use sawmill waste”.
Advocated to limit climate change, wood heating remains the source of fine particle pollution. But modern log or pellet stoves emit much less than an open fire, according to the Ademe (Environment and Energy Management Agency).
In Estonia, the burgeoning wood pellet industry is under debate, with environmentalists fearing the effects of increased logging.