Portucel breaks ground on pellet plant in South Carolina

By Katie Fletcher | April 08, 2015

Last month, Portucel Sporcel Group broke ground on its Colombo Energy pellet plant in Greenwood County, South Carolina. This estimated $110 million global investment represents an important development in the company’s expanding bioenergy business.

Portucel is an integrated forest, pulp, paper and energy company, with its activities based at three large-scale production mills in Portugal.  According to a Portucel spokesperson, the opportunity to expand the company’s biomass business in the U.S. was presented on special conditions for pellet manufacturing, including raw material availability, energy costs and good infrastructure. The spokesperson added that the plant will be equipped with advanced abatement equipment for environmental emission control, and its environmental performance will rival similar plants in the U.S.

The company’s first U.S. pellet plant will be located in Greenwood County’s Emerald Road Industrial Corridor. The location in Greenwood allows the facility access to the surrounding forested area. “Colombo Energy will benefit from the very favorable conditions in terms of Greenwood County’s forestry raw materials and available energy,” Portucel spokesperson said.

In return, the facility is expected to create 70 new, local jobs. “The Portucel Group is very pleased to announce the construction of its new, state-of-the-art wood pellet facility in Greenwood, South Carolina,” said Diogo da Silveria, Portucel CEO. “Our facility will provide a renewable, sustainable source of energy for many thousands of electricity consumers for years to come, as well as jobs to many South Carolinians.”

Secretary of Commerce, Bobby Hitt, adds, “Recruiting foreign-based firms, like Portucel S.A., to South Carolina is a critical part of our economic development strategy. Portucel’s decision to establish manufacturing operations in Greenwood County is great news for the local community and state as a whole.”

Once fully operational, the facility will have the manufacturing capacity to produce 460,000 tons of pellets annually with the Colombo Energy Inc. brand. Scheduled completion is in the third quarter of 2016. A Portucel spokesperson said the company has already secured sales of 70 percent of its production through the signing of 10-year, fixed-price supply contracts, with most of the targeted sales for the European industrial market.

Overseas, the Portucel Group accounts for more than 3 percent of Portugal’s tangible exports. As of September 2014, the company achieved record paper output, as its year-over-year sales volume saw an increase of 3 percent, to 1.147 million tons. “The company has sales in 123 countries, on the five continents—with particular mention of the European and American markets,” the company spokesperson said. “Portucel is one of the most prominent Portuguese companies on the international stage.”