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Forest2Market Reports Misleading Use of its Data in Department of Energy and Climate Change Biomass Source Assessment Report

Posted by Suz-Anne Kinney on August 12, 2014 at 10:44 AM

Forest2Market has detailed the inaccurate and misleading ways its data was used in a report from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The report, Life Cycle Impacts of Biomass Electricity in 2020,” is dated July 2014.

These inaccuracies can be found in the way Forest2Market’s data, extracted from the three blog posts listed below, was used to quantify the increase in pine pulpwood price and demand. Because accurate data about price and demand is essential to the construction of the scenarios and counterfactuals used by DECC to determine which sources of biomass are most beneficial for decarbonizing UK electricity supplies, the inaccuracies seriously undermine the report’s conclusions.

  • The report fabricates a connection between the acknowledgement of an increase in demand from pellet and OSB manufacturers from 2012 to 2013 in one source (1) and a 22% increase in pine pulpwood prices reported in another (2). The combination is misleading, as each source covers a different time frame. The actual reported increase in the first source (1) was 10%, not 22%. This selective use of data gives the appearance of bias on the part of DECC.
  • The report overlooks data in one Forest2Market source (3) when quantifying the increase in demand for pine pulpwood from pellet and OSB mills. Instead, the report juxtaposes an indefinite increase in demand with a 22% increase in price (2), implying the increase in demand is roughly equivalent to 22%. Accurate data quantifying this demand is available in another Forest2Market source cited in the report (3). The actual increase was 6%, with 92% of this total coming from OSB and 8% from pellets (3). DECC selected the larger number instead of accurately reporting the precise amount of demand from OSB and pellets, again giving the appearance of bias.
  • By focusing just on demand increases from OSB and pellets, the report fails to provide a more accurate view of demand increases in the South USA market. One of the Forest2Market sources cited in the report (3) quantifies total demand from all pine pulpwood consumers. This source shows a 1.4% or 1.73 million wet ton increase from 2012 to 2013—55% of this increase for OSB, 40% for pulp and paper and 5% for pellets. Of course, this 1.4% increase in demand is significantly less than the 22% number that the report would like its audience to focus on. Again, DECC’s selective use of data gives the appearance of bias.
  • The report misrepresents the data when it states that pine pulpwood demand is forecast by Forest2Market to increase by 17% from 2014-2018. The figure itself shows an 11% increase during that period. The original source confirms this 11% increase (3).

Because this data is critical for understanding the relative value of biomass sources for reducing GHG emissions, Forest2Market suggest those making policy based on this report proceed with caution.

Forest2Market blog posts:

(1) Export Wood Pellet Facilities’ Raw Material Delivered Cost Trends—US South (a blog based on Forest2Market’s Delivered Raw Material Cost Benchmark, cited as Forest2Market, 2013 in the report)

(2) Southwide Stumpage Prices—September/October 2013 (a blog based on Forest2Market’s Timber Owner Market Guide, cited as Forest2Market, 2013a in the report)

(3) Demand for Pulpwood in the US South: Historical and Future (a blog based on Forest2Market’s Five-Year US South Pulpwood Forecast, in the bibliography of the report as Forest2Market, 2014)

Suz-Anne Kinney: +1 980 233 4021 or

Topics: biomass