This month we go north to visit Latvia and talk with Didzis Palejs from LATbio. The biomass association has been promoting the use of biofuels for about 15 years, while Didzis Palejs is a board director of the European Pellet Council for a few years now, so we know we can expect some useful insights.
Dear Didzis, when did LATbio become an ENplus® National Licenser and why? What difference has it made for the local market?
LATbio officially joined ENplus® in 2016, and since then we’ve been taking part in developing and improving the ENplus® certification.
Why ENplus®? Because it is quality, safety, transparency, and time-saving.
Customers save time and make the decision process easier for themselves because they see a certification seal that guarantees quality, transparency, and security in the chain and they can be sure of what they buy. Also, ENplus® has not only built trust in the household pellet sector, but it has also gained recognition in the commercial sector, including becoming one of the requirements in municipal procurement.
How important is ENplus® for Latvian pellet producers and traders today? What about the pellet consumers?
In Latvia, local producers produce high-quality pellets from good, sustainable raw materials (wood industry residues to be precise) that are environmentally friendly.
The pellets produced and sold here are not only a sign of quality for local consumers, but are also elsewhere in Europe, where demand has grown not only because the product is good, but also because of the recognition of the ENplus® certification.
Europe went through tough times these past few years because of the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. How did all this affect the pellet market in Latvia?
Of course, there was an impact, because pellets from Russia were also imported and consumed in Latvia. Now, premium pellets are mostly bought from local producers, which shows a good trend in favour of local producers, and this also helps the Latvian economy. Latvia is a small but very capable country with sufficient forest resources. By supporting our own companies and consuming local products, we can only contribute to our economic growth and general level of well-being.
What would you tell the critics of bioenergy and those who still don’t see it as part of the solution (and the green transition)?
Growing vegetables and fruits in our own gardens seems like a very natural process for all of us. When they ripe, we harvest them. The same is true of the forest: once it has been properly and carefully tended, it can help us keep warm, create eco-friendly homes (house building) and furniture that will last for years, and more. Of course, everything needs a balance - we need space for forestry, but we also need to respect the protected areas.
The latest available research clearly shows that the forest sector is still a green and sustainable resource.