Why does ENplus® have such a profound impact on the pellet market? The reasons are many and some are easy to point out - the scheme’s stringent requirements, the constant quality monitoring, the protection of the trademark. However, 10 years after the ENplus® establishment, we would like to look at the topic from another perspective by sharing with you what our stakeholders think.
We present you our latest initiative called The ENplus® Interviews which will meet you with different faces: some of our partners, certified companies, and even pellet consumers. Let the diversity of opinions navigate us towards a deeper understanding of the whole environment in which ENplus® operates but also give us a chance to get to know each other better. So, without further due, it is a pleasure to meet you today with our first guest – Michal Manhalter - Director of Testing Laboratories, SZU (Engineering Test Institute), Czech Republic.
SZU (Engineering Test Institute) is one of the unique ENplus® cases when one and the same body offers certification, inspection, and testing services. Tell us more about your ENplus® story and your experience in general. When did you join ENplus®? Why did you decide to expand your involvement in the scheme and cover all these aspects of the certification process?
SZU is the testing laboratory and certification body for various products with a very long tradition. When we decided to enter the ENplus® scheme we were logically interested in the whole process, because offering “package services” is one of our competitive advantages in many product sectors.
Our story started at the beginning of 2020 when we became a listed testing body and continued in summer when we were also recognised as ENplus® inspection and certification body. Certification of biomass pellets expanded our portfolio which includes also heating appliances testing and certification.
What is the biggest challenge in your daily work with the certified companies or the ones applying for a certificate?
Since the certification system can be perceived as complex by some people who see it for the first time, we try to carefully explain all its aspects. Communication with customers is our “daily bread”. We would not be successful without effective communication.
The goal is for the certified companies to meet all ENplus® requirements regarding the entire production process and the quality of pellets, so that when customers buy certified pellets, they are certain of the product’s quality. Therefore, our company makes sure that producers and traders have theoretical and practical knowledge and document it properly during the entire process.
How do you assess the ENplus® impact on the pellet market? Do you think it has changed the pellet consumer behavior?
As a standard TIC sector company, we work with several certification schemes in various product areas. We can see that the promotion of the certification is a very important factor. There are many certification schemes whose intention was very good but due to insufficient promotion they were forgotten. ENplus® is managed by EPC with very strong support from the national licensers. We see the continuous flow of communication towards the end-users and all the charts with numbers of certified pellets confirm it.
Prior to the introduction of the ENplus® system, the quality of the pellets was very fragmented. Even though the same quality class was declared, some aspects remained unclear. Producers and traders needed a common framework to allow them to declare pellet characteristics in a uniform manner and to produce wood pellets with consistent high quality. On the other hand, consumers welcomed the unchanging high quality of pellets, the control of producers and traders, which is ensured by the ENplus® trademark. This was also followed by the manufacturers of stoves and combustion equipment, who realised that the use of pellets of consistent quality and characteristics ensures their equipment’s hassle-free operation.
In regard to the Czech market in particular, in your opinion, is there a trend among end-users towards more use of pellets for heating during winter and colder periods or it is not yet such a popular option among the Czechs?
We can see that the pellet consumption is growing steadily. Although our country (Czech Republic) is not the largest, we receive new applications and new pellet production plants are still being established. In our opinion, this is the obvious proof that more and more consumers use certified fuel.
At present, the use of pellet boilers has increased leading to a growth in the consumption of pellets. Although we export up to 2/3 of our pellet production, the domestic consumption has increased and this trend is expected to continue.
What is your advice to the pellet producers and traders that are not yet certified?
Our advice? Call us. :)
Mrs. Alice Kotlánová, ENplus Specialist, Mr. Michal Manhalter, Director of Testing Laboratories, Mrs. Blanka Watson, Head of Chemical Laboratory