Our virtual travel throughout Europe in better getting to know the people involved in the certification scheme continues with a visit to the Baltic region. Today, we are happy to hear from Agne Babelyte who is representing the ENplus® National Licenser in Lithuania – LITBIOMA.
Hello Agne, introduce us to the Lithuanian market. What is the role of wood pellets for the business and the consumers?
Hello, I will try to briefly introduce you to Lithuanian pellet market. In Lithuania, pellets are used mainly in individual houses and for the mid-scale heating appliances, for example, in schools or municipality buildings. Unfortunately, we do not have accurate statistical information on the quantities of pellets burned in the country annually because it is very hard to get information about individual houses.
But we know for sure that in Lithuania we produce around 450 000 tonnes of pellets (among them 250 000 tonnes are premium quality - ENplus® certified), I think this year these numbers will be higher because of the sudden growth of demand when pellets from Russia and Belarus can´t be imported anymore. Actually, we have a capacity to produce almost 575 000 tonnes at maximum, so we have potential to grow and I believe that, if we would have more available raw materials, numbers could be even bigger.
When and why did LITBIOMA decide to join ENplus® and become National Licenser?
Before becoming National licenser, LITBIOMA was a member of Bioenergy Europe (AEBIOM at that time), so basically we have been present since the very beginning of the ENplus®. Officially, we were listed as a National licenser in 2012, so it has been over 10 years that we are on this boat.
We were actively participating in the evolution of this system on the international level – the scheme revision which has just been concluded. Well, of course, our main responsibility is working on the scheme implementation in Lithuania.
What are the challenges and trends of this heating season?
This heating season is indeed very challenging in all of Europe and Lithuania is not an exception. Rising gas and electricity prices scare a lot of people and make them look for alternative heating solutions.
This could also be seen as positive effect because wood pellets unlike gas is a sustainable fuel and using electricity for heating in my opinion was not very smart and effective in general, even at the time when prices were not so high.
So, the demand for pellets has also increased. At the moment, we have insufficient amounts of pellets in the market and of course this reflects on the prices. The situation is not critical but tight, however, as I mentioned before, heating with other technologies at this period is even more complicated.
We do not know how the prices of gas or electricity will change in the future and we do not have local resources for them, but we have local pellet producers and local raw material (residues from wood processing industries) so this heating option looks more stable.
In your opinion, is there a space for growth when it comes to certified companies?
We have some big producers and some smaller ones which we expect to grow. Pellet production requires quite big investments just like all production industries, so it takes time for a producer to grow and decide to get certified. New producers don’t come into the system very often. In regard to the traders, we have quite a different situation. We receive a lot of phone calls and e-mails concerning the certification so we expect to receive some more applications.
If you have to convince a consumer to choose ENplus® certified pellets, what arguments would you use?
I am a person who values quality very much, I don’t want to spend my money on things which won’t do the job. I would want to be sure that I use proper heating appliances and I put good quality fuel in them. I don’t want to spend time cleaning ashes from the boiler every day and I certainly do not want to break my boiler by using low quality pellets which can leave loads of ashes, cause breakage of the feeding system or slagging in the boiler.
I believe that certification is a tool for the consumer ensuring that the product they buy will give the best performance and will not cause problems. And even if there will be some kind of problem, ENplus® requires from the companies to address all the quality complaints properly (as part of the certification requirements). So, the client can be sure that they are not left to deal with such issues on their own.