A 750,000 tonne per year biomass plant will begin shipping wood pellets to electricity plants in the Netherlands and the UK owned by RWE Innogy this summer, the German power group announced in a statement.
The factory, located in Waycross in southern Georgia, will enable the company cut 1m tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, helping it meet strict European emission reduction goals and is in line with similar efforts by other European electricity companies to use biomass for cleaner power generation.
"The wood pelleting plant built in Georgia is currently the biggest of its kind in the world. We are thus developing our own raw material resources and we become more independent of the world market. With the use of wood pellets in our European power plants, we are raising the share of biomass in electricity generation significantly," RWE's chief commercial officer Leonhard Birnbaum said in the statement. "This makes us leading in Europe in co-firinging biomass in conventional power plants."
While the first wood pellets will be primarily destined to RWE's coal-fired plant in Amer, Netherlands, up to 50 percent of its output could eventually go to the firm's other coal-fired site in Tilbury, UK, RWE said.
Analysts said RWE is not alone in its effort to import biomass to curb its CO2 footprint. Amid a scarcity of biomass (and tough limits on its usage) in Western Europe, several power companies are importing it from the U.S., Eastern Europe/Russia, Southeast Asia and other parts of the world as they scramble to meet EU renewable targets.