Wood Pellet Industry Fueled By Temporary EU Subsidies

Jul 21, 2015

Enviva, a large wood pellet supplier and manufacturer, has expanded their operations to southeastern North Carolina. The industry is fueled by renewable energy subsidies from the European Union. 

In its quest to reduce carbon emissions, members of the EU are burning wood pellets to generate electricity. The wood they use isn’t locally sourced—a large amount is actually harvested here in the southeastern United States. Anthony Snider teaches Environmental Studies at UNCW.  He says this industry relies on subsidies that aim to reduce carbon emissions and climate change. But Snider says those subsidies will eventually run out for wood pellets:

"The carbon targets are designed so that they shift over time and become more stringent. As they move forward in time, that trajectory reaches a point where the pellets no longer satisfy the requirements. England will, at that point, be forced to come off of the wood pellets and shift to some other form of energy. So, this is a stop-gap measure for them, it just happens to time perfectly with the maturity of the southern forests."

Environmental advocates oppose the wood pellet industry. They’re concerned about deforestation, loss of habitat, and water quality.