Business Briefs

By Biomass Magazine | February 04, 2022

Enviva’s Keppler named Entrepreneur of the Year
John Keppler, Enviva Partners LP CEO, was named an Entrepreneur of the Year 2021 National Award winner by Ernst & Young LLP. Winners of the EY National Award are chosen after being evaluated on their entrepreneurial leadership, talent management, financial performance, societal impact, degree of difficulty in navigating and overcoming obstacles to make their companies successful, and originality, among other core contributions and attributes. Keppler cofounded Enviva in 2004. Today, the company is a $4 billion company that is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Enviva owns and operates more than a dozen plants and terminals across the southeastern U.S., sustainably producing approximately 6.2 million metric tons of wood pellets per year. Enviva employs nearly 1,400 people and supports many other jobs and businesses in the rural South, driving more than $2 billion in annual economic activity.

Albioma acquires Quebec pellet plant  
Albioma has acquired the La Granaudière wood pellet production plant in Saint-Michel-des-Saints, Quebec. Ideally positioned to supply the Albioma’s Caribbean power plants, the facility produces Sustainable Biomass Partnership-certified pellets from wood waste or low-grade wood from certified sustainably managed forests. The transaction includes a long-term agreement granting access to a 45,000-metric-ton pellet storage facility in the Port of Quebec, as well as raw material supply guarantees issued by Quebec’s Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks.

The plant, which has been idle since July 2021, is due to be recommissioned in early 2022. Its nominal annual production capacity of 200,000 metric tons is expected to be achieved following some additional investments
Japan pellet imports 3 million metric tons in 2021
Japan imported an estimated 3 million metric tons of wood pellets in 2021, up from 2.028 million in 2020, according to late December report filed with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Information Network. According to the report, data from Japan’s Agency of Natural Resources and Energy shows that 201 woody biomass power plants in Japan generated 2,888 MW of electricity as of the end of March 2021. As of then, the agency had approved an additional 193 biomass power plants. Collectively, existing and approved biomass power plants would bring total domestic operational capacity to 7,394 MW.

Japan received its first commercial shipment of U.S. wood pellets in January 2021. The country currently has 135 domestic pellet plants, down from 137 in 2020. Domestic production is estimated at 150,000 metric tons for 2021, up slightly from 149,000 metric tons in 2020.   

In addition to wood pellets, Japan also imported an estimated 4.02 million metric tons of palm kernel shells for power production in 2021, up from 3.396 million metric tons in 2020.

GESS RNG Biogas USA announces 4 projects
GESS RNG Biogas USA LLC is launching four renewable natural gas (RNG) projects across the U.S. after successful development of a proprietary swine manure collection process that reduces the amount of manure fed into lagoons and significantly increases efficiency, according to the company. GESS RNG Biogas will implement this system at two biogas plants in North Carolina—in Union County and Bladen County—as well as plants in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Syracuse, Kansas. For all projects, GESS RNG Biogas’s sister company, Cyclum Renewables LLC, will install renewable microgrids.

PFI highlights economic, environmental benefits of wood pellets
On Dec. 13, the Pellet Fuels Institute published a document that outlines the economic and environmental benefits of wood pellet heating and grilling. “Sustainable from the Beginning: 3 Facts about Wood Pellet Manufacturing and Use” will be used by the organization and its members to more efficiently convey the benefits of the industry to local, state and federal officials. The document is available on the PFI website and has been distributed to its partners across the wood products, retail and hearth industries.

In 2020, wood pellet manufacturers sold 2.18 million tons of wood pellets for space heating, generating over $350 million in revenue.

Drax to invest in next stage of BECCS project
Drax plans capital investments of around 40 million pounds ($54.3 million) at its North Yorkshire power station during 2022, for the first phase of its bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) project, the company announced. The investments will ensure the company remains on track to begin delivering negative emissions technology in 2027.

As part of this investment, Drax has selected Worley to begin the front-end engineering and design work at the start of 2022, and may also work with the company on the subsequent design and build phases of the BECCS project, subject to contract. Drax will also commence site preparation works for BECCS across its North Yorkshire power station, including relocation and decommissioning work to make space for the project.

North Fork Community Power to commission California facility
North Fork Community Power will soon commission and utilize advanced gasification technology from EQTEC to convert forest stewardship residues into renewable electricity, heat and biochar    
North Fork, California, is the site of the 2-MW forest-based biomass gasification plant. It will utilize sustainable local forest biomass as well as material derived from fire threat reduction activities from the Sierra and Yosemite National Forest areas. The plant is located on the site of an abandoned sawmill from the 1990s, bringing back sustainable jobs to its rural community in the Sierra Nevada.

The project originated by the North Fork Community Development Council as a way to both steward the environment and promote economic redevelopment in the wake of the sawmill closing.

SJI, REV LNG break ground on 4 Michigan RNG plants
In December, SJI and its development partner, REV LNG LLC, broke ground on renewable natural gas (RNG) facilities at four Michigan-based dairy farms, marking the partners’ first series of renewable energy projects outside of the Northeast.

The projects will include constructing 2-million-gallon anaerobic digesters and related RNG facilities to capture methane produced by cow manure at each of the four farms: Double Eagle, Roto-Z, Goma and Z-Star. The projects will also entail installation of equipment that cleans the digester-produced biogas, transforming it into commercial-grade, pipeline-quality RNG. REV LNG has led early-stage development for SJI and will preside over the construction of the RNG facilities, which are expected to be operational by late 2022.