Socio-economic assessment of the pellets supply chain in the USA

Feb 2019

In the USA, the pellet production to export has reached 7 Million tons in recent years providing positive socio-economic impacts in the regions but also some socio-economic issues that need to be further improved. The main aim of this IEA Bioenergy Task 40 report was to understand the dynamics between local development and forestry activities related to the production and export of pellets on local communities, in the southeastern region of the USA (particularly in the States of Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi) where an established sector for exporting pellets is already in place.

The forest sector in the USA shows few signs of development. Overall in the United States, income increases slowly, but the forest sector does not follow this same path. Job creation was clearly affected between 2000 and 2010 in feedstock production and with no signs of general improvement between 2010 and 2014. Indeed, in some regions, the forestry sector has declined because of the reduced importance of some industries that consume wood, such as the pulp industry. The forestry sector has not changed significantly since pellets production started in southeast US, largely because it represents an alternative to long-established forestry extraction and has principally offset the recent decline in pulp production, rather than opening up new opportunities. The analysis regarding employment opportunities showed that job creation in wood production in the USA grew very slowly in 2010-2014. However, improvements are seen in the transformation sector. Growing demand for pellets may entail job expansion in pellets production with possible knock-on effects on wood production that will increase demand for labour.