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State of the Biochar Industry 2013

IBI is pleased to announce the publication of the first 2013 State of the Biochar Industry Report. This report provides a broad overview of the current state of the biochar sector as identified by surveys and other data throughout 2013 and gives the expert as well as the layperson a snapshot of commercial and non-commercial biochar operations and activities. Click here to read the full report.

The documents to the right provide additional detail on the report findings such as the 2013 company database and the questions asked in the two surveys used to gather information for this document.

It is IBI’s intent to produce this report on an annual basis to track trends and growth in the biochar industry—both on the commercial as well as the project side.

Key Findings

The report finds that early successes in biochar commercialization are evident in some areas and a biochar supply chain has emerged—from equipment manufacturers to biochar purveyors to production and use consultants. The future success of the industry will depend on the convergence of factors relating to research, investment, policy, innovation, and public education.

  • In 2013, the biochar industry is in a fledgling state, comprised largely of enterprises selling relatively small volumes of biochar products locally for end uses such as gardening and tree care. Biochar has yet to make a substantial entry into large-scale agricultural operations.
  • Unblended biochar and biochar products blended with other materials are being sold in many countries at a wide range of retail prices ranging from $0.08 to $13.48 per kilogram. The average price reported was $2.48 per kilogram.
  • Companies reported volumes of biochar sales totaling 827 metric tons. 90% of those transactions were made by businesses in North America and Europe with the remainder made in Asia and Africa.
  • Woody biomass is by far the largest source of feedstock for the biochar industry. Globally, the forestry and wood products sector offers a widely accessible source of woody residues that are often centrally located for ease of collection and transportation.
  • The scales and types of biochar production technologies being developed and marketed range widely—from micro-scale cookstoves to large-scale industrial facilities. This diversity in technologies, and other characteristics like feedstocks and end uses, may be characteristic of an industry at an early stage of development and experimentation.
  • The main barriers to industry expansion are a lack of consumer awareness, technological constraints, and access to financing. It is not yet possible to predict the yield gains from biochar in a way that would allow proposed applications to be valued. Education of stakeholders—from farmers to regulators to lenders—is key to expanding the industry.
  • Scientific research into the various facets of biochar continues to expand rapidly. The number of peer-reviewed biochar-related publications increased nearly five-fold over the last five years with over 380 papers published in 2013.