Zilkha Biomass Energy, a producer of biomass solutions to electric utility customers, today announced Wednesday (July 30) its plan to build a $90 million pellet production plant in Monticello, Ark., that will employ 52.
Houston-based Zilkha Biomass Energy LLC provides biomass products to electric utility customers, including conversions of fossil fuel stations, and the supply of a baseload, renewable fuel in the form of the Zilkha Black Pellet. The company says the black pellet is the first advanced pellet in the industry that is commercially available.
“Power companies across the globe are looking for renewable energy alternatives and biomass wood pellets stand as one of the most practical and cost-effective solutions,” Jack Holmes, CEO of Zilkha Biomass Energy, said in a statement released by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. “This plant in Monticello will be one of Zilkha’s largest and will help us capture more of the growing biomass energy market. Our Black Pellets have a set of beneficial qualities, such as water-resistance, that make it a more attractive option than traditional wood pellets.”
Made from a variety of feedstock, such as mill residuals and other low-grade wood, wood pellets are used in the energy industry as an alternative fuel source. Zilkha Black Pellets may be used with coal-fired plants to create cleaner emissions, allowing plants to more easily comply with clean air regulations, and energy companies to build fewer new power plants. The pellets are water resistant, which allows them to be transported and stored outside like coal.
“Wood pellets are gaining popularity in the U.S. as we look for sustainable fuel sources that are cleaner and cheaper to burn,” Gov. Mike Beebe said in the statement. “South Arkansas has the renewable forests that this kind of enterprise requires to succeed. We are excited that Zilkha has chosen Monticello for their innovative work in the energy sector.”
Woody biomass is abundant and is considered to be one of the best available sources of biomass on Earth. Forests cover more than 18.8 million acres in Arkansas – more than half of the state – making the state an ideal location for biomass production.