Article produced by Lennart Ljungblom, published in Bioenergy International no 62, 2012


“We have a great story to tell”

This was a  frequent repeated phrase almost a mantra from everal of the speakers in the USIPA Pellet conference in New Orleans. One such  example:  “We do not  have a sustainablilty problem here in the south east – We have a communicating problem. We have a great story to tell so let us communicate how we do forestry here in the south east.

The conference gave the 400 participants a wide overwiev regarding the developing pelelt trade from south east USA towards basically Europe. We have in different places put in short stories in the green coplumns and below you will find short overwiev of the fast growing capacity for pellet production.


Harold Arnold, the chairman of USIPA and also the president of Fram Renewable Fuels with two pellet plants in operation is also managing some streams from some smaller producers and now going to build a third plant.

Their first plant, actually the first in the region was founded with Norwegian capital is the now to 230 000 t/y increased  Appling County Pellets.

The second  was opened in 2012 as a joint venture with Telfair Forest Products in nearby Lumber city with a capacity of 120 000 ton.

In between those places in Hazlehust,  we  are now in the first phase of two of  construction a 500 000 ton a year plant with planned start up in late Q4 2013, tells Harold Arnold.


Many family owned forests

Here in US south east there are many small family forest owners.

They have managed ther areas for long time and have no intention to end this.

In this region we need more markets for possible products to be able to keep and develope the forests.

The new pellet market will therfore not destroy the forests. On the contrary they will save and develope them and give the forest families a well needed income from their land.


Transparent industry

Alicia Cramer from the family owned forest company Westervelt opened to say that the people in this association makes a tremedous difference compared with the traditional more closed athmosphere in the pulp and paper industry.

Mike Williams, manager of Westervelt  told that they in a month will  to open their first plant in Alicieville, Pickens county, in Alabama.

Phase one has the target of 280 000 ton and we hope to expand it to 560 000 ton later.

Our engineering and technology partenr is Dieffenbacher. The product will be stored in silos on site and barged to Mobile for shipping to Europe.

Up stream investment by RWE

Jim Roecker Georgia biomass  new manager of Georgia Biomass the pellet plant owned by German RWE was opened in 2009 and has now reached it´s capacity of 750 000 metric tons a year. Our headquarter is in Savanah georgia and we are also doing oru export from the same city.


Green Circle

With a Swedish investor Green Circle in Cottondale in northen Florida was the second export oriented pellet  plant to start up. Their first  pellets was produced in 2008.

It took almost 2 years to reach full capacity but  now it is running very well at 550 000 t/y which will be further increased to +600 000 t/y, tells Mårten Neraes.

All production is signed for.

Two word of warning, he told;  1) the high dependence of  the UK market 2) the effect of the 2012  fires that must be avoided in the future.

He ended by telling that there is a very good growth to drain ratio in the area. There is plenty of new wood available that today has no home and there is a potential to grow evenmore wood.


A great story to tell

John Keppler told that Enviva was founded in 2004. Now in 2012 their pellet capacity is 750 000 ton which will to 2013 be more than doubled to 1 775 000 t/y. Enviva also operates a 50 000 ton facility in Belgium.

There is no excuse for unstable or unsaftey opertions. The incident rate in our industry should be zero. We must also work for cost reduction.

We do not have a sustainability problem here in south east. We hvae a communication problem.

As one forester said some days ago:

This industry represents a gods end, we bring in jobs, outlets for fiber, employment for people in logging and contracting we are realy bringin in Manna from heaven

We have great story to tell. Let us communicate it together.

Text and photo

Lennart Ljungblom