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International Journal of Forestry Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 302014, 12 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/302014
Research Article

Production Costs and Markets for Pellet Chips: Case Studies in Northern Sweden

1Department of Forest Resource Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 901 83 Umeå, Sweden
2Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 901 83 Umeå, Sweden

Received 1 December 2011; Revised 13 March 2012; Accepted 27 March 2012

Academic Editor: David B. DeVallance

Copyright © 2012 Gunnar Eriksson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Increasing use of woody fuels requires that nontraditional types of raw materials are exploited, including logging residues and small-diameter trees. Although medium-scale combustors often use pellets, they could conceivably use dried chips of sufficiently narrow size distribution (henceforth pellet chips). The influence of the following factors on the relative cost-effectiveness of producing pellets and pellet chips was investigated for three plant sites in northern Sweden: (1) harvesting and transporting of forest residues; (2) the potential of existing energy plants to supply drying heat in periods of capacity surplus; (3) the distance to potential end-users. Data from the national forest inventory were used to estimate raw material costs. The resulting production costs were 144–176 $ per oven-dry tonnes (OD t) for pellets (27.4–33.5 $ MWh−1) and 143–173 $ OD t−1 (27.2–33.0 $ MWh−1) for pellet chips, with harvesting, forwarding, chipping, and transporting of logging residues to the sites amounting to 114–122 $ OD t−1 (21.7–23.2 $ MWh−1) for both fuels. Even though the differences in production costs were minor, the production of pellet chips requires significantly less electricity input per OD t of produced fuel. For cost reductions improved methods for wood fuel procurement, compacting and transporting of chips, small-scale low-temperature drying and foliage and bark separation are needed.