March 2011- -Together with the Governor of the State of Georgia, Sonny Perdue, RWE Innogy today held the groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of the construction phase of a large wood pellet plant in Waycross in the southern region of the US state of Georgia. Once complete, the plant is due to produce 750,000 tonnes of wood pellets each year. The pellets are intended for use in RWE power plants, both in dedicated biomass facilities and in combined coal and biomass combustion. The Swedish company BMC Management AB is in charge of project management. The total investment volume is EUR 120 million.
1.5 million tonnes of fresh wood are needed each year to produce the pellets. Dr. Hans Bünting, member of the board of directors at RWE Innogy, explained: “This step enables RWE to strategically expand its leading position in biomass. We are securing a source of raw materials in a permanently growing market. Even by American standards, Georgia has a vast expanse of sustainably managed forest land. Although the pellets have to be transported to Europe, the CO2 emissions are extremely low. This allows us to make a significant contribution to climate protection.”
The pellet factory in Waycross will directly create between 70 and 80 new jobs. RWE Innogy is also investing in the development of port facilities in Savannah through its subsidiary Georgia Biomass LLC.
According to Sonny Perdue, Governor of the state of Georgia: “Georgia is proud to officially welcome RWE and BMC to the state. The construction of the pellet factory by Georgia Biomass and the infrastructure measures it involves will have a positive impact on local forestry and the regional economy in general.”
The biomass pellets are initially to be used as fuel in the existing power plants of
Amercentrale in the Netherlands where up to 30 percent of the hard coal input has already been replaced by biomass today. The significant biomass volume from Georgia will contribute to extending this cofiring to up to 50 percent in the medium term. The reduction of CO2 emissions will be roughly on the same scale. The two power plant units belong to Essent which has been taken over by RWE and have a total installed capacity of 1,245 MWel and 600 MWth. They generate electricity to supply the equivalent of 3 million residential households.
What is more, the use of biomass pellets is to be extended in the years ahead to include additional dedicated biomass facilities and conventional power plant sites, e.g. in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and the UK.
Construction in Waycross is expected to take around 15 months. Georgia Biomass will mainly rely on regional construction companies to build the plant. Plant engineering will be provided by leading American and European companies. The first pellets are due to be produced in the third quarter of 2011.
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