Following explosion, world’s largest pellet plant resumes operation
The Georgia Biomass pellet plant in Waycross, Georgia has resumed operations after an explosion that reportedly rattled windows five miles from the plant caused a three week shut-down.
RWE Innogy built the largest pellet works on the planet to feed its massive appetite for wood pellets in co-fired power plants in Europe. The facility can churn out three-quarters of a million metric tons of wood pellets a year, nearly half again the capacity of the world’s next largest plant. To put that figure into perspective, 750,000 metric tons is roughly the weight of the entire population of the Netherlands, where most of the pellets will be consumed in RWE co-fired power plants.
In late June a dust explosion sparked by an overheated roller-bearing assembly crippled production and led to a shut-down that finally ended after repairs and modifications to the plant were completed in mid July. The explosion occurred in the early morning and there were no injuries. RWE did not disclose the cost of the repairs and modifications to the $175 million facility.
The Waycross facility is part of RWE’s vertical integration strategy and is intended to ensure an uninterrupted supply of high-quality pellets to RWE power plants in Europe. Initially, the pellets will go to the Amer 8 and Amer 9 power plants in the Netherlands, operated by RWE subsidiary Essent. Currently, the Amer power plants are co-fired with a mix of 70 percent hard coal and 30 percent pellets. In the near term, RWE wants to increase the pellet share to fire with a 50/50 mix of coal and pellets, and in the long-term the company wants to fire Amer 9 with 80 percent pellets. (tph)