Hannes Richter

Austrian Company ANDRITZ to Build North America's Largest Wood Pelleting Plant

Hannes Richter

The international technology group ANDRITZ, an Austrian company headquartered in Graz (Styria), will build a bio-energy production plant in Waycross, Georgia funded by the German RWE Innogy Group. The wood pellets will be used in European power plants as a low pollution substitute for coal. The wood pelleting plant will become the largest of its kind in North America.  

Operating as Georgia BioMass LLC, the new production facility will be built on a three hundred-acre parcel of land about 250 miles from Atlanta. Production is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2011, producing 75,000 tons of pellets with coal-like characteristics to be efficiently converted to electricity, making it the biggest and most modern plant of its type in the world.

Following production, the pellets will be shipped to Europe from the port of Savannah to be used in pure biomass power plants to meet Europe’s growing demand for renewable energy. According to RWE Innogy, forests in Georgia provide enough wood to sustainably produce the biomass pellets. Around 1.5 million tons of fresh wood are needed each year to produce 750,000 tons of biomass pellets. Dr. Hans Bünting, Member of the Board of Directors of RWE Innogy, says: “Due to the large surplus available, wood is much cheaper in the U.S. than in Europe with its restricted woodland availability. Furthermore, Georgia is a region where forest management is being carried out in a sustainable manner with controlled planting and harvesting of forests – this fully meets our strict criteria for the production of biomass.”

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Andritz headquarters

Apart from the state’s logistical advantages, such as accessibility to shipping ports and railways, its wealth of forests, low cost in operating and innovative research promoted by Georgia’s universities, were also factors when selecting Waycross, Georgia. Reactions by the Waycross community were highly positive. As one of Georgia’s strategic industries, the renewable energy sector will contribute to considerable growth in the state, creating between 400 - 500 construction jobs, 75 permanent jobs and promoting businesses involved with bio-energy during times of recession. Regina Morgan, executive director of the development authority in the region, said: “This community proudly welcomes Georgia BioMass, and looks forward to a fruitful relationship for years to come.”  Another board member of the authority, Owen Herrin, stated: “Lives will be changed in Waycross and the surrounding counties,”…the plant will “provide jobs and hope.”   

In coming years, the use of the biomass pellets will expand the capacity for biomass power plants to generate renewable energy in other European countries, such as the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. Wood pelleting has been done in small-scale and medium-scale productions, but with the plant in Georgia, it is elevated to an industrial-size scale. In addition, a long-term transport contract has been concluded with one of the world’s largest shipping companies in dry cargo, Dampskibselskabet NORDEN A/S, of Denmark to provide the European market with sustainable, environmentally friendly energy.   

The ANDRITZ GROUP is a global market leader for customized plants and services for the hydropower, pulp and paper, metals, and other industries (solid/liquid separation, feed and biofuel). Headquarters in Graz has a staff of approximately 13,000 employees worldwide.ANDRITZ operates over 120 production sites, service and sales companies all around the world. 

BIOFUEL ANDRITZ FEED & BIOFUEL is one of the global market leaders for supplying plants, equipment, and services for the animal feed industry (the pet food industry, and the fish and shrimp feed industries) and for biomass pellets (wood fuel pelleting and pelleting of agricultural and industrial by-products).