At present demand for biomass in northwest Europe is about 44 million tons. And while Europe is still largely self-supporting, imports already amount to 4 million tons. International trade in biomass is mostly in the form of wood pellets. To assess the potential growth of wood pellets imports until the year 2030 the Copernicus Institute of the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands carried out a study for the Port of Rotterdam. An important conclusion from this study is the fact that the demand for tradable wood pellets will grow to a maximum of 70 million tons in 2030. This means that Europe will become more and more dependent on imports from other regions like Canada, the United States, Brazil, Russia and the Ukraine.
What does this enormous growth in demand mean for the logistics in the entire supply chain? Opportunities in scale, like reduction of costs through smart transport and consolidation of storage, security of supply and increase in flexibility or spot trade. But this also means challenges in transport and this requires investments in facilities. A well-developed infrastructure and reliable hinterland connections are prerequisites for instance. To fully exploit the opportunities, this requires a major hub for feedstock.
The Port of Rotterdam is perfectly positioned for this, in part because the port and the industrial complex already process these materials. In potential wood pellet imports through the Port of Rotterdam could grow to 15 million tons by 2030. At present about 1 million ton is being handled in the port. The Port of Rotterdam has the ambition to become a hub port for biomass and in consultation with the market to jointly develop the biomass hub port concept.