Zilkha Biomass Energy to develop pellet plant in Arkansas
Zilkha Biomass Energy, a producer of biomass solutions to electric utility customers, has announced it is building a facility in Monticello, Arkansas, to manufacture their Zilkha Black Pellet, the first commercially available advanced pellet in the biomass industry. The company plans to invest $90 million in the facility and create 52 new jobs.
“Power companies across the globe are looking for renewable energy alternatives and biomass wood pellets stand as one of the most practical and cost-effective solutions,” said Jack Holmes, CEO of Zilkha Biomass Energy. “This plant in Monticello will be one of Zilkha’s largest and will help us capture more of the growing biomass energy market. Our Black Pellets have a set of beneficial qualities, such as water-resistance, that make it a more attractive option than traditional wood pellets.”
Made from a variety of feedstock, such as mill residuals and other low-grade wood, wood pellets are used in the energy industry as an alternative fuel source. Zilkha Black Pellets can be easily integrated into coal-fired plants to create cleaner emissions, allowing plants to more easily comply with clean air regulations, and energy companies to build fewer new power plants. The pellets are water resistant, which allows them to be transported and stored outside like coal.
“Wood pellets are gaining popularity in the U.S. as we look for sustainable fuel sources that are cleaner and cheaper to burn,” Gov. Mike Beebe said. “South Arkansas has the renewable forests that this kind of enterprise requires to succeed. We are excited that Zilkha has chosen Monticello for their innovative work in the energy sector.”
Woody biomass is abundant and is considered to be one of the best available sources of biomass on Earth. Forests cover more than 18.8 million acres in Arkansas – more than half of the state – making the state an ideal location for biomass production.
“Monticello is proud to have been chosen as the site for Zilkha Biomass Energy,” said Nita McDaniel, executive director of the Monticello Economic Development Commission. “The manufacturing of Zilkha Black Pellets is a natural fit for the community alongside the University of Arkansas at Monticello’s School of Forest Resources. Our heritage is rich in the timber industry and this heritage continues to move us forward with sustainable wood-based products. This is truly a day of celebration for Monticello, Drew County and the southeast Arkansas region.”