Drax starts construction on second satellite pellet plant

Drax Group has started construction on the second of three satellite wood pellet plants in Arkansas.

Work is underway at the site in Russellville, Pope County, north-western Arkansas, with commercial operations expected to begin at the plant in 2022. The move is part of a $40 million (€34 million) investment by Drax in the state, creating around 30 new direct jobs and many more indirect jobs.

The three pellet plants are expected to produce a total of around 120,000 tonnes of sustainable biomass pellets annually from sawmill residues, supporting Drax’s plans to increase self-supply to its power station in North Yorkshire, UK. By 2027, Drax hopes to increase biomass self-supply to five million tons, improving supply chain resilience while reducing pellet costs.

Arkansas Secretary of Commerce, Mike Preston, said Drax’s investment is proof that the state’s timber industry is “poised for a bright future”.

“Through this partnership, these three Arkansas communities will experience further growth and opportunities, and Drax will be able to continue working towards its mission to provide renewable electricity for millions across the pond,” said Preston.

Earlier this year, construction began at Drax’s first satellite plant in Leola, Grant County, and commercial operations are expected to begin late this year. Progress is being made on selecting the third and final site.

Matt White, Drax Biomass’ senior vice-president, commented: “Drax has made great progress in delivering our $40 million (€34 million) investment in Arkansas, with the second of three satellite pellet plants now under construction.

“The investments we’re making will bring jobs and opportunities to rural communities in Arkansas alongside supporting international efforts to tackle the climate emergency.

“These plants support Drax’s plans to develop bioenergy with carbon capture and storage – a vital negative emissions technology that will be needed around the world to meet net-zero targets.”

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