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RWE Innogy builds 750,000 tonnes capacity pellet factory in Georgia, USA

RWE Innogy will build a factory to produce biomass pellets in the southern part of Georgia, USA, with an annual production capacity of 750,000 tonnes, which could make it the biggest and most modern of its type in the world.

The biomass pellet project will be carried out in collaboration with Swedish BMC Management AB, which specialises in the development of biomass manufacturing solutions.

The pellets will be used in pure biomass power plants as well as for the co-firing of coal and biomass. The pellets plant is due to take up operation in 2011 and the total investment volume amounts to approximately €120 million.

The biomass pellets will initially be burnt in the existing power plants of Amer in the Netherlands, where currently already up to 30% of the hard coal has been replaced by solid biomass, mainly wood pellets.

In the coming years, the use of the biomass pellets is to be extended to other pure biomass power plants and also to conventional power plant sites in the Netherlands (e.g. Eemshaven power plant, which is currently under construction), Germany, Italy and the UK.

As long as the US is not part of the CO2 emissions trading scheme, RWE will not – due to strategic reasons – invest in power generation capacity from renewables in the US, the company says.

Forests in Georgia provide enough wood to sustainably produce the biomass pellets, RWE Innogy says. Around 1.5 million tonnes of fresh wood are needed each year to produce 750,000 tonnes of biomass pellets.

Dr. Hans Bünting, Member of the Board of Directors of RWE Innogy, says: “Due to the large surplus available, wood is much cheaper in the US than in Europe with its restricted wood land availability. Furthermore, Georgia is a region where forest management is being carried out in a sustainable manner – this fully meets our strict criteria for the production of biomass.”

The pellets are to be shipped to Europe from the port of Savannah. A long-term transport contract has been concluded with one of the world's largest shipping companies in the dry goods sector, Dampskibselskabet NORDEN A/S, Denmark.

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