29 Apr 2024

Wood-based energy industry starting to gather steam 

From Nine To Noon, 9:35 am on 29 April 2024

Black wood pellets are seen as a potential silver bullet replacement for coal by major industrial users in New Zealand like Fonterra and Genesis Energy.

They are wood pellets that behave a lot like coal in the sense they can be stored outside, and put through the same equipment, meaning plants would not need large and expensive alterations. But they have the significant adage that they don't come with the high greenhouse gas emissions of coal. Worldwide the black pellet industry is in its infancy - estimates last year were that it could produce about 200,000 tonnes a year.

There are signs here the black pellet industry is starting to grow - ASX-listed Foresta has signed a 30-year lease on a Kawerau property where it plans to invest $300 million on a processing site. Another company NZ Bio Forestry has a memorandum of understanding with Genesis and has plans to secure a site and start building a processing plant later this year.

Ray Mountfort is founder and managing director of Foresta, and Wayne Mulligan is chief executive of NZ Bio Forestry. 

Logs timber wood

Photo: Unsplash / Oliver Paaske