Japan’s June Biomass Imports Climb Year-over-year

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Japan’s June biomass imports rise on year, highlights an Argus Media news source.

Japan’s wood pellet and palm kernel shell (PKS)

Japan’s wood pellet and palm kernel shell (PKS) imports rose on the year in June, on the back of strong biomass demand as well as Indonesia’s growing wood pellet capacity and firm PKS supply.

Japan imported 531,000t of wood pellets in June, up by 47pc on the year, according to data from the country’s finance ministry.

Vietnam accounted for 45pc of imports at 237,000t, up by 31pc from a year earlier. The US was the second-largest exporter to Japan in June, supplying 155,000t, more than triple the amount from June 2022. Canada was the third-largest exporter at 115,000t. But exports to Japan in June fell by 14pc on the year from 134,000t.

Japan’s year-on-year increase in wood pellets was also supported by a nearly tenfold increase in imports from Malaysia, and a surge in imports from Indonesia from 570t to 11,000t.

Indonesia’s wood pellet capacity

Indonesia’s wood pellet capacity is expected to increase potentially by 600,000-700,000t by the end of 2023, according to market participants. A new Indonesian wood pellet producer, Biomasa Jaya Abadi, located in Gorontalo province, has started selling pellets to Japan, according to an Indonesia-based trader. The firm has made regular pellet shipments of around 10,000 t/month to Japan since the second quarter of last year, the trader said.

Japanese demand for wood pellets in June was firm as summer temperatures supported biomass burn and end-users sought to secure pellet supplies in advance for the winter season, to avoid a repeat of last year’s situation where there was tight supply and competition for spot cargoes, according to Japanese traders.

Demand in June was also likely supported by power plants coming back on line, such as the 54.5MW Yonago biomass-fired power generation plant in Tottori prefecture which resumed operations on 1 June after being shut from 17 May because of a fire. The plant consumes 180,000 t/yr of imported wood pellets and 40,000 t/yr of PKS.

Japan has also been steadily increasing its biomass power generation capacity, with its total operational biomass power generation capacity reaching 6,379MW in 2022, up from 5,394MW a year earlier.

PKS imports increase

Japan imported 477,000t of PKS in June, up by 32pc on the year, according to data from the country’s finance ministry.

But total imports could have been lower as an alternative customs code that importers occasionally use when bringing PKS into Japan also includes products in addition to PKS. Argus follows the 230660.00 and 140490200 HS codes for Japan’s PKS import data.

PKS imports from Malaysia and Indonesia increased in June on the back of the fresh fruit bunch harvest reaching high season in both countries. Imports from Indonesia rose by 28pc on the year to 343,000t, while imports from Malaysia rose by 22pc to 115,000t.

Japan imported 19,000t of PKS from Thailand in June, from none a year earlier.

This is likely because coal prices have dropped significantly, which prompted Thailand-based firms to burn more coal instead of co-firing with biomass, said market participants. Another factor for the increase in Thailand’s supply to Japan in June could also be because of a timely concurrence of seasonal abundance of local PKS and high export prices to Japan, which would encourage producers towards Japan delivery.


Japan’s wood pellet imports by destination (‘000t)


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Source: Argus Media