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Bioenergy Project News - April 2013

April 04, 2013
Author: LeAndra Spicer

New wood pellet manufacturer Gulf Coast Renewable Energy LLC (GCRE) has announced plans to build a plant in Southern Mississippi. The plant is expected to come online by the fourth quarter of 2014 and produce 320,000 tonnes of wood pellets per year for sale to European utilities. Located just outside Lucedale in George County, the plant will create approximately 30 full-time plant positions and hundreds of indirect jobs in the area.

Canadian company Biomass Secure Power Inc. is expected to begin construction on a new wood pellet facility by the end of August. The plant will be located on 90-acres owned by the Port of Greater Baton Rouge in Port Allen, Louisiana. Newly formed subsidiary Biomass Power Louisiana LLC will operate the facility.

Phase one of the project will yield three production lines, each capable of producing a 340,000 tonnes of wood pellets per year. The first line is expected to take approximately 14 months to complete, with the second and third lines coming online within 18 months. Construction costs during the first phase are estimated at $123 million.

If all goes well, the company anticipates an additional three construction phases to bring the plant to a production level of four million tonnes of wood pellets per year. Total costs estimates ring in at $400 million. Biomass plans to sell its wood pellets on the open market.

Thermogen Industries, a Cate Street Capital subsidiary, has announced plans to construct a $120 million wood pellet plant with a capacity of 200,000 to 300,000 tons per year in Eastport, Maine. The new plant is expected to employ up to 75 people in Eastport and create upwards of 300 indirect jobs. Construction is slated to begin in 2014.

Meanwhile, the company expects to begin operations on the region’s first torrefied wood manufacturing facility in nearby Millinocket later this spring. Thermogen is interested in building a second plant as demand from its European customers is expected to outstrip supply at Millinocket.

A lack of available financing has caused Biomass Energy LLC to close the doors of its wood-pellet manufacturing plant in Bumpass, Virginia. "Despite ramping up to industry-leading production and quality levels in this operation, the business has proved to be unsustainable financially," Scott Deakin, President and CEO, said via a prepared statement. The plant used wood biomass to manufacture wood chips and pellets for use as biofuel.

Renewable fuels company KiOR recently shipped the first supply of cellulosic diesel produced at its Columbus, Mississippi facility. The shipment came approximately four months after plant operations began last November.

In a press release announcing the shipment, the company noted that unlike ethanol and biodiesel, the fuel it produces has no compatibility issues. KiOR noted the benefits of its fuels include :

·         A makeup identical to conventional, petroleum based fuels.

·         A significant reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil-based fuels.

·         Significant economic development in rural areas home to construction and operation of production facilities.

KiOR's product - “the first renewable cellulosic gasoline registered by the Environmental Protection Agency for sale in the U.S.” – is manufactured from wood chips processed from the commercial thinnings supplied by nearby southern pine tree farms.  The Environmental Protection Agency anticipates KiOR will produce eight of the 14 million gallons estimated to enter the market this year.

ZeaChem has scaled back biofuel production at its Boardman, Oregon facility. Just weeks after the biorefinery began producing cellulosic biofuels, the company has reduced its operations and laid off employees. The affected facility is a demonstration plant capable of producing 250,000 gallons of biofuel from sawdust and other wood waste supplied by area tree farms.

A company statement attributed the plant status to an inability to obtain the financing necessary to move the project forward. Despite the current circumstances, company leaders expect the situation is temporary. ZeaChem also hopes to start construction on a commercial biorefinery capable of producing up to 25 million gallons of biofuel later this year.

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