Biomass Buzzing in the Southeast

By Rona Johnson | October 26, 2010

Fall has been a busy time here at BBI International, in particular because we have been preparing for the Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show, which many of you may be attending as you read this.

This event will be exciting with all the biomass projects and potential the region has for advancing the renewable energy industry.

There are several biomass power plants in various stages of development in the Southeast. For example, EcoPower Generation LLC wants to build a biomass power plant in Hazard, Ky., which would burn low-grade logs and wood waste to produce enough electricity to power 30,000 homes.

Orangeburg County Biomass LLC is proposing to build a 35-megawatt (MW) wood-fire power plant in Orangeburg County, S.C. North Carolina-based Rollcast Energy plans to build the first of three biomass power plants in Barnesville, Ga. The 53.3-MW plant will produce enough electricity to power 40,000 homes. The company has also announced similar sized projects in Franklin, Ga., and Newberry, S.C. American Renewables plans to build Gainseville Renewable Energy Center, a 100-MW biomass power plant in Gainesville, Fla.

The Southeast also has plenty of potential for cofiring biomass with coal, which is the topic of the first plenary session at the conference, Examining the Viability of Biomass Cofiring and Repowering as a Renewable Energy Opportunity in the Southeast. Although states in the Southeast have been slow to adopt renewable energy portfolio standards, I expect those efforts will be ramped up as the pressure to reduce our carbon footprint intensifies.

Along with biomass power plants and cofiring projects, several wood pellet mill projects are taking shape in the Southeast. Georgia Biomass expects to be shipping wood pellets to Europe upon completion of its plant in Waycross, Ga., which will have the capacity to produce 750,000 tons of wood pellets a year. Point Bio Energy LLC plans to build a $100 million wood pellet plant at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, La., that will produce 496,000 tons of wood pellets annually.

The second plenary session, Awakening a Giant: Examining the Potential for the Pellet Industry in the American Southeast, will provide attendees with a great overview of the opportunities and challenges associated with the budding pellet industry. One of the presenters is Thomas Meth, executive vice president, sales and marketing for Enviva LP, which has just purchased two pellet plants in the U.S. and plans to increase production in both of those plants to feed growing demand here and in Europe.
From electricity generation and industrial heat and power to biorefining and project development and finance, this event will provide plenty of information for people already in the industry and those planning projects.