Drax Gets Satellite Pellet Plant Going

Drax Group is ramping up to full production at Leola—the first of three new satellite pellet plants it plans for Arkansas. Leola, in Grant County, is part of a $40 million investment by Drax in the state, creating approximately 30 new jobs across all the three sites planned for Arkansas as well as many more indirect jobs.

Including Leola, Drax operates six pellet plants in the U.S., which use biomass sourced from sustainably managed working forests in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi. The three satellite plants in Arkansas are expected to produce a total of 120,000 tonnes of wood pellets per year from sawmill residues. This supports Drax’s plans to double its pellet production capacity to 8 million tonnes by 2030 to meet its own requirements, as well as its customers’ needs in Europe and Asia, amid an expected increase in global demand for the low-carbon fuel.

The satellite plants are located near sawmills, so they can use the sawdust and other byproducts. Construction of the second Arkansas satellite plant in Russellville, Pope County, is underway with commissioning expected this year. Drax is continuing to develop plans for a third plant.

The pellets produced at the new satellite plants will be transported to Bruce Oakley terminal in Little Rock, Ark. before being shipped south to Louisiana to oceangoing vessels. Each pellet plant is expected to produce 40kt per year.

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