The ENplus® interviews: Philipp Koskarti from BEA Institut für Bioenergie believes pellet consumers do not only focus on price
The last interview for 2021 is with our long-time partner Philipp Koskarti from BEA Institut für Bioenergie
. Philipp will take you on a trip through the years to share not only his experience with ENplus®
, but also to explain the significance of the scheme for the pellet market in Europe today.
Hello Philipp, please introduce us to the BEA Institut für Bioenergie, your colleagues and the services you offer.
BEA Institut für Bioenergie is a private Viennese company founded in 2009 with the main focus on the quality of solid biofuels. Our team consists of 9 experienced employees running an accredited inspection body as well as an accredited testing laboratory. In this context, we are also active in the biomass standardization process, developing analysis methods, and conducting interlaboratory comparison tests.
Additionally, we provide expert opinions in the role of sworn court experts and assist our clients with consultancy and planning services. Furthermore, we operate a small department for the development and sales of laboratory equipment for the bioenergy industry.
Due to our international network, we have the possibility to cooperate with competent partners and in this regard, we rely on an additional 3 external auditors for our ENplus® inspection services. Since November we also have a branch office in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
How did your ENplus® story start?
I was involved from the very beginning of the ENplus® story. I worked in the field long before the European Pellet Council even started. As we are a member of national and international standardization and other expert committees, we are happy to profit from our worldwide contacts. So, we are always informed about any upcoming innovations at a very earlier stage. This was the case with ENplus® as well. Mainly for technical inputs BEA was part of the development of this certification scheme. Furthermore, my colleague Martin Englisch and I also started as ENplus® auditor trainers from the very beginning.
This year we successfully held the 20th ENplus® auditors training and hence trained all approved and listed auditors within the ENplus® system. We are also proud to share our knowledge in different workshops (like the auditor workshops) as well as in quality manager and silo-truck driver trainings.
How do you evaluate the residential pellet market in Austria? Are consumers using pellets more than before? Do they care about the ENplus® certification?
In Austria we are facing a fast-increasing demand for wood pellets. Due to subsidies and governmental programs to reduce fossil fuels for residential heating, boiler sales started to increase again and therefore also the pellet demand.
Quality awareness was always quite distinct within Austrian pellet consumers. Almost 20 years ago clients were already asking for pellets certified according to national standards. So yes, consumers in Austria care about the ENplus® certification and not only focus on the price when buying pellets.
In your opinion, can a producer/trader be competitive enough these days if they are not certified for quality?
Nowadays, pellet business without any quality certification is rather impossible. In Austria, more than 99% of the traded pellets are certified and more than 90% are certified according to ENplus®. Thus, newcomers get certified as soon as possible to be able to get into the market right away.
On an international level, the ENplus® certification became a benchmark. When visiting any pellets trade fair, you will immediately recognize that without ENplus® certification you will not be able to be part of the business, neither as a producer nor as a trader.
Only in very few countries pellet sales are possible without a quality certification. This happens locally for a very narrow market and only if the price level for the fuel in general is comparable low. Usually this always goes along with low quality as well.
In the long term, a quality certification like ENplus® is for sure indispensable to enter or to stay competitive in the market.
What will be the biggest challenge for the residential pellet market in 2022?
For 2022 - as well as it already was in the past - there are several big challenges in the pellet business. First of all, it is highly important to keep and even further strengthen the good image of the pellets, not only within the consumers but also within NGOs, stakeholders, and governments. This is especially necessary as pellets must compete with quite some other fuels, often on an unfair level. Unfortunately, scientific facts are not always used to promote the development of fuels, but rather political lobbying is more often driving some strange developments (e.g. pushing for nuclear power within the EU).
The second challenge will be the supply guarantee. The pellet market must assure to fully cover the increasing demand of pellets any time – in a sustainable manner. Preferably this will mostly happen on a regional level to eliminate avoidable long-distance transports as far as possible.
And lastly, the whole pellet business will need to pay attention to ensure a sustainably raw material supply and keep the business as green as it is promoted, not only on paper but also in real life.
BEA Institut für Bioenergie team