Around 6.6 billion tonnes of hard coal were consumed worldwide last year and the use is increasing. In 2010, 43% of CO2 emissions from fuel combustion were caused by the use of coal. EU countries have committed to reducing CO2 emissions (20-20-20 targets3), and the replacement of coal with renewable fuels is the key to achieving these targets. The use of bio-coal pellet is currently one of the most economical ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired boilers1. The market for bio-coal is expected to expand rapidly. According to the consulting and engineering company Pöyry, the production of bio-coal is expected to increase to 7.5 million tons3 by the year 2020.


While the term “bio-coal” is technically inaccurate, it has nonetheless been established when referring to energy sources produced by torrefaction or steam explosion. Other terms in use for pelletized bio-coal include torrefied pellets, TOP pellets, refined pellets, black pellets, and steam explosion pellets. There are several production technologies, but all encompass the same main processes: the drying of raw material, thermal modification, and pelletizing or briquetting.

Bio-coal is high in energy density (about 6 MWh/t), it is easy to handle and it can be stored also outdoors. Transportation and handling costs are significantly lower than those of other solid bio-fuels, allowing profitable production also at longer distances from the end customer. The table below (KEMA) shows the properties of bio-coal pellets compared to other fuels.