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News 25.10.2022

Gordon Murray from WPAC on the role of certification in the end-users’ perception of pellets

Get to know better the world-leading wood pellet certification scheme through the words of our partners. Today, we have the pleasure to introduce you to another National Licenser. Our guest is Gordon Murray from the Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC).

 Hello Gordon, what should we know about WPAC? When and why did the association become ENplus® National Licenser?

The Wood Pellet Association of Canada has been an active participant in the European Pellet Council since the first organizing meetings in 2010. We became a national licenser in 2013. We believed that ENplus® would become the top-ranked quality certification program and we were right. 

Like most others, we saw ENplus® as a means of ensuring that all wood pellets being traded in the European heating market would be of the highest quality. If homeowners use low-quality pellets and experience problems with their stoves and boilers, it can reflect badly on all market participants. If the market is dominated by high-quality ENplus® certified pellets, we can ensure that all end-users have a positive experience with pellets. We became a national licenser to add our support to the ENplus® program.

What is happening in the Canadian pellet market? What are the latest trends?

Canada is a major oil and gas producer. Compared to Europe, our domestic fossil fuel supply is inexpensive. We have an extensive natural gas distribution network and in most parts of Canada, home heating with gas is inexpensive. Also, amongst the public natural gas has a reputation for being clean and climate-friendly, even though as biomass professionals, we know that like all fossil fuels, gas is a major contributor to global warming.

Since natural gas is so inexpensive and widespread, we focus our pellet marketing efforts in regions of Canada that are not served by the gas grid. This includes northern and remote communities and most of Atlantic Canada. In those areas, we are making steady progress at installing pellet boilers in commercial and institutional buildings like schools, universities, hospitals, garages, government offices, swimming pools, apartments, and commercial buildings. In single-family homes, pellet stoves are more common than boilers.

Canada does not produce biomass boilers. We import all our boilers from Europe. However, we have a significant hurdle in that Canadian authorities will not accept European boiler standards and so the imported European boilers need to be re-engineered to meet North American standards. We have been working hard with the Standards Council of Canada to find a way to accept European boilers without modification and are optimistic that we’ll soon have a solution.

Do you observe an increasing demand for ENplus® certification by local producers so that they can be competitive enough when exporting pellets to Europe (considering the current dynamic situation)?

Most of Canada’s pellet exports are sold into industrial markets for use in large-scale electricity production. Only a few producers have sold ENplus® pellets into the European heating markets. However, with the current high demand for heating pellets in Europe, we have three producers currently pursuing ENplus® certification.

Earlier this year, WPAC started a new video series called The Power of Pellets. Share a few words about it and why we should check it out.

Our motivation for producing the Power of Pellets video series was to enhance the profile of Canada’s wood pellet industry amongst all stakeholders, especially customers and regulators. Even within Canada, knowledge of pellets amongst our provincial and federal governments is woefully inadequate.

Our Power of Pellets series is told through the eyes and ears of the people on the ground who make our industry so great through their commitment to their communities and the world-at-large by supplying the world with responsible and renewable clean energy.

From responsible fibre sourcing to far-reaching innovation, the Power of Pellets follows the supply chain through sustainable production to markets around the globe. Each video illustrates the important role wood pellets play in reducing greenhouse gasses, underscoring the whole sector’s crucial contribution to the low-carbon economy. We make the case that wood pellets are unquestionably sustainable and a part of the climate change solution. Wood pellets are at the heart of WPAC’s sustainability commitment and the circular bioeconomy, which relies on reducing fossil fuels.

And as these videos demonstrate, across the globe demand for wood pellets is steadily increasing because this low carbon product is helping countries meet their climate change targets. Unleashed, the opportunities for using pellets at home and around the world are almost limitless.