Drax concludes on two U.S. wood pellet plants
May 9, 2013
By Argus Media
May 9, 2013, London – U.K. generator Drax is pushing ahead with upstream biomass projects after concluding the contractual arrangements for two planned wood pellet production plants on the U.S. Gulf coast through subsidiary Drax Business International (DBI), the company said.
Construction on both plants, a 723,000 t/yr plant in Gloster, Mississippi, and a 450,000 t/yr plant in Morehouse Parish, Louisiana, will begin this summer and start-up is expected in late 2014. Both plants should reach full production capacity by mid-2015.
Drax is in the process of converting three of its six 660MW coal-fired units to biomass. The first converted unit began operation on 2 April and is in the process of ramping up to full capacity. The company has committed to converting the second unit in 2014 and the third by 2017, although it expects to complete the third unit in 2015.
The converted units will have a 10pc reduction in output capacity and will lose 1.5 percentage points of generation efficiency, down from 39 to 40pc.
Drax has constructed the first two of four planned biomass storage domes on site. While the company will not disclose the total storage capacity of the four domes, it plans to have 2 to 4 weeks' worth of biomass stored on site at any one time once all three units are converted. Drax's total wood pellet consumption is expected to be at least 6mn t/yr after the three units are converted.
Drax is assessing locations in Louisiana, Mississippi, and other sites in the southern U.S. to locate further wood pellet manufacturing facilities. The port of Baton Rouge will be used as an export hub for pellets bound for the U.K.
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