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Drax receives 100th biomass cargo from US export facility

Unloading wood pellets at ABP Immingham. Image: Drax
Unloading wood pellets at ABP Immingham. Image: Drax
Drax has received the 100th biomass cargo from its dedicated US export facility at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge in Louisiana.

The vessel arrived in the UK on the fifth anniversary of the start of operations at a dedicated biomass export facility in southern US.

The Port of Greater Baton Rouge is the final deepwater port on the Mississippi River and the closest to Drax's three wood pellet plants in the southern US. In 2015, the company completed work on its export facility at the port to process and ship biomass to its power station in North Yorkshire, UK.

Ultrabulk's MV Ultra Jaguar vessel transported 66,856 tonnes of biomass from Baton Rouge to the UK, enough fuel to generate electricity to power 1.3 million homes. The shipment arrived at ABP's Port of Immingham on 25 March and will support Drax in producing electricity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once in the UK, the pellets are loaded on to 'bespoke' biomass freight trains to Drax Power Station. "We're very proud of what Drax has achieved since we started using sustainable biomass instead of coal at the power station," said Drax CEO Will Gardiner, "by developing a global supply chain for sustainable biomass, our operations support thousands of jobs and have delivered economic growth across the north of England and in the US South.

"Maintaining our supply chain so we can continue to generate the renewable electricity the country needs is all the more important right now as we continue to play a critical role in producing power to help fight against COVID-19. Our teams are working around the clock to keep generating the power the country needs."

Drax Biomass' senior vice-president Matt White said: "In the past five years, the team here at Drax's Baton Rouge facility has gone from loading its first vessel with 20,000 tonnes of sustainable wood pellets, to the 100th vessel, which loaded almost 63,000 tonnes. The team did this while achieving an industry-leading safety record, underscoring its focus and commitment to the wellbeing of our employees."

Approximately two-thirds of the 7.5 million tonnes of biomass Drax uses each year is imported from the US, where Drax owns and operates three pellet mills, producing compressed wood pellets sourced from 'sustainably managed working forests' in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi.

Baton Rouge Transit has shipped more than five million tonnes of biomass to ports on the UK's east and west coasts in the last five years. Once in the UK, the pellets are loaded onto 'bespoke' biomass freight trains bound for Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire.
Unloading wood pellets at ABP Immingham. Image: Drax