Georgia Biomass held its official ribbon cutting ceremony in mid-May at its new operation just outside Waycross, Ga., hosting dignitaries and officials from around the world at the opening of the world’s largest wood fuel pellet plant. The facility, scheduled to be at full capacity by this fall, can produce up to 750,000 metric tons annually.
The facility is a venture of major German utility RWE and its bioenergy subsidiary, RWE Innogy. According to RWE Innogy CFO Hans Bunting, the Georgia Biomass project came in two months ahead of schedule and under budget. RWE COO Leonard Birnbaum noted the almost $200 million plant is only a small part of the $8 billion a year RWE invests worldwide, but is very important to the company, which is the world’s largest biomass buyer and biomass power producer. The company operates more than 50,000 giga watts of power capacity, “But the challenge is provide more of this energy sustainably,” he added.
A good portion of the plant’s output may be heading to RWE’s existing coal-fired plant in Tilbury, United Kingdom, which is being converted to biomass and would become the largest biomass-fired power plant in the world.
The first pellets were produced in March, and the Waycross facility is now ramping up toward full production. With an annual feedstock procurement budget of $40 million, the plant will take around 250 incoming log loads daily. The facility will take in more than 1 million metric tons of logs annually.
Local, regional and state officials were on hand for the ceremony, and project executives complimented all involved for creating a positive business environment that allowed the plant to go forward.
“Government doesn’t create jobs, but it can create an environment for jobs to flourish and then get out of the way,” said Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. “We’re happy to welcome a world-class industry to a world-class state.”