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Delta Biofuel proposes $70m US biomass pellet plant

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Delta Biofuel has shared proposals for a $70 million (€58.8 million) biomass fuel pellet facility in Louisiana, US.

Governor John Bel Edwards and Delta Biofuel’s CEO Philip Keating announced that the company is evaluating Iberia Parish in Louisiana for the planned renewable fuel plant. The facility would produce biomass fuel pellet made from residual sugarcane fibre, known as bagasse.

Delta has secured long-term supplies of feedstock bagasse, which can be processed into biomass fuel pellets and used alongside, or instead of, standard industrial wood pellets to generate power. Bagasse fuel pellets are lower-cost alternatives to typical wood pellets and also result in a greater reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

European and Asian power and industrial heating plants transitioning away from fossil fuels now use over 25 million tonnes per year of wood pellets, primarily displacing thermal coal as a feedstock. The Jeanerette facility would produce up to 300,000 tonnes of bagasse fuel pellets annually.

“Renewable energy is a key component in reaching environmental protection targets, and Louisiana looks forward to welcoming the latest renewable fuel investment, Delta Biofuel,” said Governor Edwards.

“Working in tandem with our sugar mills, Delta plan to turn previously discarded waste into a source of energy. Continued growth in the renewable fuels and renewable energy sectors is prime economic development, as Delta Biofuel’s project would result in 275 new jobs in Acadiana. On behalf of all the people of Louisiana, we look forward to this fantastic new project coming to our state.”

Delta Biofuels would source all excess bagasse from four nearby sugar mills in Iberia, St Mary and St Martin parishes. Sourcing from these mills allows alternative use of the mill’s by-products. Additionally, Delta has engaged European and Asian energy production facilities for multi-year commitments to purchase the pellets.

Keating, Delta Biofuel’s CEO, commented: “Our bagasse pellet manufacturing plant will provide a sustainable, long-term solution for the sugar mills by utilising all excess bagasse produced in each harvest. This will not only reduce cost and liability for the mills but will eliminate methane emissions from the discarded bagasse that you can see in huge piles around the state.

“These pellets are then delivered to power generation facilities, which produce renewable electricity. We see Louisiana and its sugar industry as a terrific and reliable source of biomass for alternative fuel production.

“We have been able to collaborate with our partner sugar mills to produce a solution for their needs while establishing a viable project that can deliver long-term economic impact for the region and reduce GHG emissions in electricity production. Combine this with the fantastic industrial labour force and the support from the state, and we eventually expect to do even more beyond this initial project.”

Delta plans to locate the greenfield facility on 16 acres near US Highway 90 in Jeanerette, near one of its bagasse suppliers, Enterprise Sugar Mill.

Groundwork for the new facility would begin in September, with completion expected in September 2022. Hiring would begin in spring 2022.