Pellets are the only available CO2-neutral replacement for fossil fuels in industrial scale.
The wood pellet
As a result of a multi-stage process containing no chemical additives, natural wood bulk granules with a diameter of 6 mm are formed while the material is sorted, crushed, dried and pressed. Wood pellets are convenient biofuel to be used both in households and automated industrial systems.
Most of Graanul Invest’s production (98%) consists of industrial pellets. In LATGRAN 100%. Majority of pellets are exported outside the Baltic states. The main markets for industrial pellets are the United Kingdom, Denmark and the Netherlands. Industrial pellets are mainly used in power and cogeneration plants to produce energy and heat, replacing fossil fuels.
LATGRAN produces 600,000 mt of wood pellets annually, corresponding to 3 000 000 MWh of sustainable energy from CO2-neutral woody biomass. The Graanul Invest Group total production capacity, including all 12 factories, is up to 2,7 Mt.
Pellets are sustainable and CO2-neutral biofuel
Wood pellets are among the most flexible and efficient renewable energy sources. This solid biofuel is the best industrial-scale substitute for most traditional coal-burning heat and power plants.
Pellets are high-energy heating material that can replace gas, oil, or oil shale. By burning fossil fuels, we are increasingly adding new carbon from the ground into the energy mix and boosting anthropogenic climate change. Any fossil material that we can leave in the ground is a step closer to solving climate problems.
LATGRAN state-of-the art pellet production
All LATGRAN pellet factories are focused on constant improvements to provide the best possible efficiency. In Graanul Invest group we evaluate our overall environmental benefits on a lifecycle basis. Although wood pellets make it possible for energy producers to prevent more than 90% of fossil emissions without compromising energy production output, a fully transparent value chain can lead to additional efficiencies and continue to support global climate challenges. Since 2018 we have calculated, monitored, and verified our environmental footprint based on the lifecycle approach methodology established in the renewable energy directive. This has been one of our most important KPIs since it considers the performance of our feedstock sourcing chain, production footprint, and the logistics of the finished product. Our footprint is already the best in class, but we need to improve all links in the value chain to speed up our positive impact on the climate challenge.
The group wood pellet production CO2 footprint has constantly been lowered by more than 5% annually, resulting 6,63 gCO2 eq/MJ of energy in the pellets.
LATGRAN has significant positive impact to the group transport CO2 footprint as 2 of our factories can use the most efficient land transport – railway for both raw material streams and for transporting the pellets to Baltic sea ports for shipping overseas.
Wood pellets are produced only from forestry and sawmill residues
Wood pellets are an environmentally friendly biofuel sourced from the production residues of the forest and wood industries. Pellets are made from production residues of the wood industry (sawdust, wood chips) and low-quality roundwood that is not suitable for producing sawn timber or other wood products.
Our wood pellets recipe
Is the main by-product of the sawing process in sawmills. It is historically the most common material for producing pellets, which requires very little processing because it already has a fine fraction and is of uniform quality.
From both the debarking lines of our factories and neighboring sawmills. The bark is mechanically removed from the stemwood. Instead of the former composting in the landfill, it is sent to onsite renewable energy production to make the most out of every gram of valuable wood.
Are divided into sawmill chips and forest chips. Forest chips mainly consist of fine branches and other residues from the logging process, which in most cases cannot be processed mechanically, as the material contains soil and sand. Sawmill chips are different in content and appearance from forest chips. They are produced in the sawmill while processing already peeled logs and have uniform fraction and purity. The wood chips from the sawmill industry are used to produce pellets. The forest chips are mainly used for producing carbon-neutral electricity and heat energy in our cogeneration plants and dryers.
The traditional firewood, is the lowest-quality assortment of the forest industry, with no alternative application for long-term carbon-sequestering industries. A significant part of the firewood processed into pellets consists of fast-growing or unsuitable tree species for the sawmill industry, such as grey alder, rowan, hazel, etc. Another important assortment of wood pellet that is generated by the forestry industry and used as wood pellet feedstock is stemwood from thinnings and selective cuttings. This material is usually too thin to be used by the sawmill industry. The third type of feedstock in this assortment class is tops and limbs of trees left over from sawlog extraction. These are often not uniform enough in shape or diameter, rotten, deformed or damaged by bark-beetles or fungus. To a small extent, we also use rejected timber from sawmills, seemingly “good logs” with damage, containing dangerous metal objects, mainly from the Second World War, or cracks or have internal tensions (bent) unsuitable for processing. Up to 50 different assortments are distinguished in Boreal mixed forests. Only the lowest priced firewood from hardwood and softwood is sold as raw material for pellet industries.
In 2021, the raw materials used in our factories were divided into: 55.72% of sawmill industry residues, the largest part of which was wood chips - 26.82% of the total material used. Sawdust and planing chips accounted for 21.48% and 6.92%, respectively. The share of logs rejected from the sawmills was 0.5%. The share of residual flows from forest management i.e. low-quality stem wood unsuitable for other industries, was 45,48% of our feedstock basket. The share of stemwood in our raw material basket has decreased by more than 10% compared to 2019.
The experience of our production managers guarantees the highest quality of the pellets and a carefully combined recipe To achieve uniform quality, all five groups of raw materials are mixed in the production of industrial wood pellets. In order to achieve resource efficiency and to properly follow the waste hierarchy, the energy sector cannot pick and choose raw materials. Therefore, we use all the mentioned categories of raw materials and all common local tree species. Everything left over from the sawmill industries or forestry sector close to the factory must be accepted and processed by the energy industry. The long-term experience of the production managers of the factories allows them to achieve the best quality wood pellets, which ensures that the requirements of length, hardness, particle size, and calorific value are met even with constantly changing material and weather. We regularly analyze the quality of production in the laboratory of each factory several times a day; In addition, the quality of the pellets is regularly checked by independent laboratories both in intermediate warehouses and on-site at customers’ premises.