Business Briefs

By Pellet Mill Magazine | March 03, 2022

Drax to invest $54m in world’s largest carbon capture project
Drax Group announced it has approved a further investment in the development of its Yorkshire biomass energy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) project, which will see Worley commence work on the front-end engineering and design phase.

The £40 million ($54 million) capital investment includes site preparation works for BECCS and decommissioning of coal infrastructure following the end of the plant’s capacity market obligations after September. Drax’s coal units are due to close then, and BECCS work could get underway as soon as 2024. Drax aims to deploy BECCS on two of its biomass generating units by 2030, capturing and permanently storing up to 8 million metric tons of CO2 a year.

Subject to adequate regulatory support, the first BECCS unit could be operational in 2027, with the second commissioned in 2030, according to Drax. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group is the company’s technology partner.

Andritz reports on Japan project benchmark
Andritz recently reported that the biomass-fired PowerFluid circulating fluidized bed boiler (CFB) the company installed at Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding’s biomass power plant in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture, has fulfilled all performance guarantee parameters and the plant’s warranty period has ended. The 50-MW facility has been in commercial operation since December 2020.

The total project execution time from award of the order to the beginning of commercial operation was 39 months, according to Andritz. The company’s scope of supply comprised the engineering work, delivery, erection work and start-up of the fluidized bed boiler, including a flue gas cleaning system with high-dust selective catalytic reduction and auxiliary equipment. Andritz reports that it is currently working on 10 more CFB boiler projects in Japan, some of which are in the start-up phase and others that will go into operation during the next few years.

US pellet exports reach 7.52 million metric tons in 2021
The U.S. exported just over 774,410 metric tons (MT) of wood pellets in December, up from approximately 764,259 MT the previous month and 564,826.2 MT in December 2020, according to data released by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service in February. The U.S. exported wood pellets to more than a dozen countries in December. The U.K. was the top destination for U.S. wood pellet exports at 468,367.6 MT, followed by the Netherlands at 114,434.3 MT and Denmark at 91,434MT. Total pellet exports for 2021 reached 7.52 million MT at a value of $1.06 billion, compared to 7.26 million MT exported in 2020 at a value of $981.46 million.

Enviva to double production capacity, signs MOU with SAF producer
In mid-January, Enviva Inc. announced accelerated plans to double its wood pellet production capacity, as well as the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a U.S.-based customer to supply wood pellets for conversion into low-carbon transportation fuels, including sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Enviva did not disclose the name of the company, but noted that the biofuel producer is Enviva’s first U.S.-based customer. Under the MOU, the two companies will codevelop a supply chain strategy for advanced low-carbon transportation fuels with a focus on the customer’s operations in the U.S. Southeast, and potentially California. Enviva said it is  evaluating plans to build one or more facilities in California with the intent of utilizing low-grade wood fiber from high-hazard zones in the state.

The newly announced MOU represents Enviva’s second agreement related to SAF. In November, Enviva announced the signing of a 10-year, take-or-pay off-take contract with an industrial customer in Europe for 60,000 metric tons per year of wood pellets to be used as feedstock for SAF and other biofuels.

Drax begins operations at Arkansas satellite plant
Drax Group is ramping up to full production at its Leola, Arkansas, pellet operation, the first of three new satellite pellet plants to be built in the state. Drax is investing $40 million in the facilities, which are expected to produce a total of around 120,000 metric tons of  pellets a year from sawmill residues. The plants are all sited near sawmills, reducing infrastructure, operational, and transportation costs. Construction of the second Arkansas satellite plant in Russellville, Pope County, is underway with commissioning expected this year. Drax is continuing to develop plans for a third plant.