Drax Pellet Plant opens in Demopolis
Published 4:39 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2022
Drax Group, the world’s leading producer and user of sustainable biomass has opened a new pellet plant at Demopolis in Alabama, bringing new jobs and economic opportunities to the town.
At full capacity the plant at Demopolis, which is Drax’s second production facility in Alabama, will produce 360,000 metric tons of sustainable biomass pellets a year.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said: “Drax’s wood pellet plant that’s being commissioned in Demopolis represents a major investment that will drive long-term economic growth and spark significant job creation in Marengo County. The opening of this facility is an exciting development for this rural region, and I look forward to seeing Drax develop new growth plans in Sweet Home Alabama.”
Drax’s pellet plants help support employment and opportunities across the wider forestry and lumber sectors in Alabama with around 350 people employed during construction of the new plant, and 120 people employed directly by the renewable energy company at its two pellet plants in Demopolis in Marengo County and Aliceville, in Pickens County.
Drax CEO Will Gardiner said: “By developing these pellet plants Drax has created 120 jobs in Alabama, whilst supporting many more throughout our supply chains in the state.
“I believe it’s important to support the communities where we operate and so as well as opening the Demopolis pellet mill, I’m also very pleased to announce the donation of $10,000 to the Demopolis City Schools Foundation, which will help ensure all children have access to an excellent education. I look forward to Drax continuing to work with the local community.”
Including Demopolis, Drax’s operates seven pellet plants in the US south, which use biomass sourced from the region’s sustainably managed working forests.
The Demopolis and Aliceville pellet plants support Drax’s plans to increase pellet production to meet growing demand in Europe and Asia for reliable, renewable electricity, which helps displace coal from energy systems, reducing emissions in line with global climate targets.
Drax also has ambitious plans to develop bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). This vital negative emissions technology permanently removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere whilst also generating renewable power – no other technology can do both.
Drax owns and operates the Aliceville and Demopolis pellet plants through its 90% stake in the Alabama Pellets joint venture partnership. Two Rivers Lumber Co. LLC holds the remaining 10% economic interest.
Drax acquired its stake in the Aliceville and Demopolis pellet plants through its April 2021 acquisition of Canadian pellet producers Pinnacle Renewable Energy.
The pellets are made from sawdust, shavings and chips – a by-product from the neighboring Two Rivers Lumber Co sawmill. Siting the pellet plant near a sawmill reduces infrastructure, operational, and transportation costs.
The pellets from Demopolis are loaded onto river barges to head to the port at Mobile, Ala. for export.
Drax plans to increase its pellet production capacity to 8 million tons by 2030 to help meet its own requirements, as well as its customers’ needs in Europe and Asia, amid an expected increase in global demand for the low-carbon fuel.
Some of the pellets Drax produces in the US South East are used at Drax Power Station in England to generate renewable electricity for millions of UK homes and businesses.
Drax’s conversion of its UK power station to sustainable biomass from coal is Europe’s largest decarbonization project, reducing emissions from Drax’s power generation by over 95% since 2012.