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Drax partners with LSU to support sustainable forestry

Drax partners with LSU to support sustainable forestry
An aerial view of Louisiana State University (LSU) campus in Baton Rouge (photo courtesy LSU).

In the United States (US), carbon removals and renewable energy company Drax Group has announced a new partnership with Louisiana State University (LSU) to support students and research associated with sustainable forestry and renewable energy.

The collaboration will allow LSU and Drax to help advance energy innovation on a global level while building on LSU’s legacy of sustainable forestry and innovative energy research.

This partnership with LSU is the first of its kind for Drax in Louisiana and exemplifies Drax’s commitment to fostering collaborations. Just like our existing Louisiana operations, our goals are to boost economic development, support future workforce training, and build a foundational knowledge exchange through world-leading research in the fields of renewable energy and sustainability, said Dawn Whitworth, Head of International Partnerships and Advocacy at Drax.

Pledged US$62,000 donation

As part of the agreement, Drax has pledged a US$55,000 donation to the LSU Foundation to establish a new scholarship and support existing funds to benefit LSU’s College of Agriculture and Department of Career Services.

Drax will also become a sustaining member of the LSU Center for Energy Studies (CES) endowment through a separate donation of US$7,000.

As an international leader in agricultural research, education, and extension, the LSU College of Agriculture is excited to partner with a global industry leader like Drax. LSU prepares the next generation of innovators and leaders for the agricultural and energy sectors, and it seeks to chart new directions in low-carbon solutions through this critical partnership. This generous support from Drax will enhance our ability to attract and educate the thought leaders of tomorrow who will secure our future, said Dr Matt Lee, VP of Agriculture and Dean of the College of Agriculture.

Drax’s US$62,000 donation to LSU will go toward:

  • Drax Group Scholarship Fund: A new, non-endowed scholarship fund will be established to benefit undergraduate students currently enrolled or intending to enroll in LSU’s College of Agriculture. Preferential consideration will be given to students with a concentration in forest resource management or forest enterprise.
  • Center for Energy Studies (CES) Endowment: Drax has become a sustaining member of the CES endowment to support its mission of facilitating research and analysis to address energy-related issues and opportunities affecting Louisiana.
  • COA Dean’s Excellence Fund: This existing fund benefits LSU’s College of Agriculture.
  • LSU Olinde Career Center Development Fund: This existing, non-endowed fund benefits LSU’s Olinde Career Center, which helps students find work after completing their education.

Drax will also join the CES Advisory Council, a group of representatives from organizations, companies, state government, and general citizens that provide direction and guidance regarding energy policy and research.

Companies globally are actively working on ways to reduce the carbon intensity of their supply chains, and I am eager to continue to learn more about Drax’s work in pursuing bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) technologies right here in Louisiana. We’re excited to welcome Drax as a sustaining member of our CES endowment and Advisory Council, and we look forward to collaborating to usher in a brighter energy future, said Greg Upton, Interim Executive Director at LSU’s Center for Energy Studies.

Well-established in Louisiana

Drax has been an engaged member of the Louisiana business community for over a decade, and in 2018 established its US headquarters in Monroe, Louisiana.

The company currently operates pellet production facilities in Bastrop and Urania supporting thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the state, generating US$356 million per year in economic impact in Louisiana alone.

LSU Students have boundless potential and are poised to be the renewable energy leaders of tomorrow. The Olinde Career Center is excited about this opportunity to support Drax in building a pipeline of quality talent. What an extraordinary opportunity for LSU students to remain in Louisiana and help shape energy innovation on a global scale, said Jesse Downs, Senior Director, LSU Olinde Career Center.

LSU’s Scholarship First Agenda includes a focus on partnering with industry to find new ways to fuel the nation.

An LSU-led team recently won the largest and most competitive grant ever awarded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF).

The NSF Engines grant will provide up to US$160 million to support Louisiana’s energy industry, create jobs in the energy sector, develop innovative solutions to energy challenges, and help train the world’s energy workforce.

The State of Louisiana has also been at the forefront of energy and carbon removals, with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delegating Class VI primacy for carbon storage permitting to Louisiana earlier this year.

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