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Drax opens Demopolis pellet plant in ‘Sweet Home Alabama’

Drax opens Demopolis pellet plant in ‘Sweet Home Alabama’
UK-headed Drax Group, the world’s leading producer and user of sustainable biomass has opened a new wood pellet plant at Demopolis in Alabama (AL), its second facility in this US state (photo courtesy Drax).

UK-headed Drax Group, the world’s leading producer and user of sustainable biomass has opened a new wood pellet plant at Demopolis in Alabama (AL), its second facility in this US state.

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At full capacity, the Demopolis pellet plant will produce 360 000 tonnes per annum of wood pellets from sawmill residues such as sawdust, woodchips, and shavings.

The over US$100 million investment in the new Demopolis pellet plant brings new jobs and economic opportunities to Alabama.

Drax’s wood pellet plant that’s being commissioned in Demopolis represents a major investment that will drive long-term economic growth and spark significant job creation in Marengo County. The opening of this facility is an exciting development for this rural region, and I look forward to seeing Drax develop new growth plans in Sweet Home Alabama, said Alabama Governor Kay Ivey.

Generating employment opportunities

Drax’s pellet plants help support employment and opportunities across the wider forestry and lumber sectors in Alabama with around 350 people employed during the construction of the new plant, and 120 people employed directly by the company at its two pellet plants in Demopolis in Marengo County and Aliceville, in Pickens County respectively.

By developing these pellet plants Drax has created 120 jobs in Alabama, whilst supporting many more throughout our supply chains in the state, said Will Gardiner, CEO of Drax Group.

Marking the occasion Drax is donating US$10 000 to Demopolis City Schools Foundation as it continues to support the communities where it operates.

I believe it’s important to support the communities where we operate and so as well as opening the Demopolis pellet mill, I’m also very pleased to announce the donation of US$10,000 to the Demopolis City Schools Foundation, which will help ensure all children have access to an excellent education. I look forward to Drax continuing to work with the local community, Will Gardiner said.

Part of Pinnacle acquisition

Drax owns and operates the Aliceville and Demopolis pellet plants in Alabama through its 90 percent stake in the Alabama Pellets joint venture partnership.

Drax check to Demopolis City Schools Foundation
Marking the official opening of the Demopolis pellet plant on April 5, 2022, Drax CEO Will Gardiner (left) and Drax EVP Pellet Operations Matt White (right) donated a check for US$10 000 to Mayor Woody Collins and Ashley Coplin, Executive Director of the Demopolis City Schools Foundation (photo courtesy Drax).

Drax acquired its stake in the Aliceville and Demopolis pellet plants through its April 2021 acquisition of Canadian pellet producers Pinnacle Renewable Energy.

Two Rivers Lumber Co. LLC holds the remaining 10 percent economic interest and supplies the feedstock from its nearby sawmill operations.

Siting the pellet plant near a sawmill reduces infrastructure, operational, and transportation costs. The pellets from Demopolis are loaded onto river barges to head to the Port at Mobile, AL for export.

Support growing demand

In total, Drax Group has 17 operational pellet plants and developments with an annual nameplate capacity of 4.6 million tonnes, which will increase to around 5 million tonnes once current developments are complete.

Including Demopolis, Drax operates seven pellet plants in the US South, which use biomass sourced from the region’s sustainably managed working forests.

These support Drax’s plans to increase pellet production to meet growing demand in Europe and Asia for reliable, renewable electricity, which helps displace coal from energy systems, reducing emissions in line with global climate targets.

Drax is targeting 8 million tonnes of production capacity by 2030, which will require the development of over 3 million tonnes of new biomass pellet production capacity.

The company also has ambitious plans to develop bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). This negative emissions technology permanently removes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere whilst also generating renewable power – no other technology can do both.

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