Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

WP(7) Socio-economic analysis - Determinants and behaviour of energy wood prices

This work presents a general discussion on costs of wood fuel production and utilisation. Second, fuel energy price developments for ECHAINE countries are discussed and compared. Third, determinants of energy wood prices are discussed at a theoretical level. Finally, results from two European surveys among wood energy using and non-using plants are presented and synthesised.

- The firms included in the ECHAINE survey had very large differences in wood energy outputs.

- The companies involved were not active on the international electricity market except a few Swedish ones.

- The Finnish and Swedish companies in the survey started to use wood energy
commercially more than a decade earlier than Bulgarian, Swiss and German companies. Some Romanian and Portuguese companies have a long history of wood fuel utilisation as well.

- The Finnish, Swiss and Swedish plants using wood fuels seem to obtain their fuel inputs from a wider range of suppliers than the Portuguese and German managers.

- When the survey was undertaken, most managers considered wood fuels to be the cheapest fuels

- Over time most managers have experienced relatively stable wood fuel prices, except for about half of the Scandinavian managers.

Key innovative findings:
- Managers of non-wood fuel companies seem to be more optimistic of the conditions of banks to finance renewable energy investments.

- The manager of companies which use wood fuels are more pessimistic than managers of non-wood fuel using companies about the impact of future emission taxes and certificates on the profitability of wood energy.

- Competition for wood fuels tends to lead to higher wood fuel prices.

- Most positive about the low costs of wood fuels were the managers that highly appreciated the fuel security of wood fuels.

- Large wood energy firms exhibit lower labour intensities than small wood energy firms.

- Statistics of wood fuel utilisation at the national level are not representative of how managers actually experience the competition at the local level.

Several discrepancies were detected between:
- Price perception at local level and national price development.

- Uncertainty with respect to availability of wood fuels at the local level and availability and abundance of wood fuels and forest at the national level.

- Perception of managers of wood fuel versus non-wood fuel companies.

- Discrepancy between uncertainty experienced and wood fuel availability.

- Local price perception and perceived fuel uncertainty.

- Competition experienced and intention for future wood fuel utilisation.

Expected results:
Examples of each of the four determinants of prices of wood fuels and wood energy:
- Historical development of prices, supply and demand: Rather as a result of large competition in the local wood fuel market, and contrary to what would be expected based on their large forestry abundance, the greatest uncertainty concerning availability and long term delivery of wood fuels in the long run was felt in Finland. The least uncertainty was felt in Switzerland and Romania.

- Policies: direct political support can lead to significant cost reductions for the firm. The government may subsidise the complete or part of the installation, as of the occurred in Switzerland, or may not subsidise at all, as in Romania (see also ECHAINE Deliverable 23).

- Socio-economic and cultural values: Good management of the relations between the manager and relevant stakeholders can lead to significant cost reductions (see also ECHAINE Deliverable D21).

- Extent of competition at national and regional level: Competition from other plants, mostly district heating or CHP plants, for wood fuels was felt strongly in Finland, and to a large extent in Germany and Sweden as well.

Dissemination of the results have been carried out by 1) Using Echaine web-page, 2) Presentations at two by Echaine organised international workshops (Bulgaria and Russia), 3) Presentations at national and international seminars and workshops, 4) Scientific papers.

Reported by

ETH Zurich
Zurichbergstrasse 18 (ZUE E)
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