Gardner speaks with Maine Public about European wood chip market

Doug Gardner, a professor of forest operations, bioproducts and bioenergy at the University of Maine, spoke with Maine Public for an article about how the lucrative European wood chip market has the potential to rejuvenate the forest products sector in Maine. Wood chips, which are burned for fuel in biomass energy plants, are in strong demand in Europe, however, they can’t be exported, because of the pests and pathogens that could be spread to other countries, according to the report. To combat this problem, Fastco Corporation in Lincoln built two heater-drying systems that, if successful, could be placed aboard cargo vessels and used to decontaminate low-grade wood chips for shipment to Europe, the report states. The development of this technology began seven years ago, in response to new regulations imposed by the European Union that effectively ended exports of Maine wood chips. Several Maine companies joined forces with UMaine to come up with the heater-dryer system, which is ready for a trial run later this month, Maine Public reported. Gardner said the technology could give the state a competitive advantage. “In the southern U.S., they’re shipping a lot of biomass material to Europe right now,” he said. “Maine is closer to Europe and provides a shorter shipping distance.”