When one door closes for someone, a window opens for someone else. That’s the case with Spanish wood pellets, which boomed in exports in 2022. This biofuel made from pressed wood is such a hot export product that locals now refer to the pellets as ‘brown gold’.
The increasing use of biomass in Europe, which accounts for up to 60% of all energy produced from renewable sources and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have turned the European energy market upside down, and Spain is seizing its opportunity.
Russia was the main supplier of wood pellets to the ‘old continent’. Now, with the embargo imposed on both Moscow and Minsk, some European importers like Italy and the United Kingdom are struggling to find supplies of this precious substance.
Spain is now filling the gap in the market.
Thanks to EU regulations facilitating exports, Spanish wood pellets sold to Italy increased by 67.1% last year. 11,593 tonnes were also sent to the UK. The Iberian country was already providing wood pellets to London before Brexit, with a peak in 2017.
After the UK left the EU in 2020, Britain started buying Russian pellets and Spanish numbers dropped to less than a third. With the general trend to move away from Russian energy sources, British consumers have switched back to importing the biofuel from Spain, with sales up 15.1% in 2022 compared to 2021.
But the golden egg for Spanish wood pellet sellers is France, since its government decided in 2018 to promote biomass, mainly for heating. The results have been especially noticeable last year, when exports increased by 148.9%. With more and more French households opting for this alternative, it is unlikely that Spanish wood pellets will fall out of favour, even after the war ends.