Drax Group announced Thursday (May 6) it will begin constructing the first of three new “satellite” pellet plants in Arkansas. Drax Group is a worldwide sustainable biomass production and supply company.
The three plants are together expected to produce approximately 120,000 metric tons of sustainable biomass pellets a year from sawmill residues, supporting the renewable energy company’s plans to increase self-supply to its power station in the U.K.
Drax will begin construction of the first plant later this month near a West Fraser sawmill in Grant County – with commissioning expected in October. The company will begin construction on two more plants in other locations in the coming months.
In total, Drax will invest $40 million in the state, creating approximately 30 new direct jobs and more indirect jobs across three Arkansas communities.
Drax has transformed its power station in the U.K. to become the largest decarbonization project in Europe by converting it to use sustainable biomass instead of coal. The development of the “satellite” pellet plants is part of Drax’s strategy to increase biomass self-supply to five million tons by 2027, improving supply chain resilience while reducing pellet costs.
“By building these new pellet plants Drax is bringing jobs and opportunities to rural communities in Arkansas, boosting the state’s post-COVID economic recovery,” said Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO. “Through this investment, Arkansas will play an important role in combating climate change, supporting Drax to increase the amount of sustainable biomass we produce as part of our plans to pioneer bioenergy with carbon capture and storage. By using sustainable biomass, we have displaced coal-fired power generation, reduced carbon emissions and provided renewable electricity for millions of homes and businesses in the UK.”
“Drax’s ambitious company vision combined with the renowned tenacity and loyalty of Arkansans make this partnership an excellent match,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “I am confident that this investment will benefit both the company and our communities for years to come.”
By co-locating the pellet facilities with sawmills, Drax said it will benefit from lower infrastructure, operational, and transportation costs.
Drax owns and has interests in 17 other pellet plants and development projects across the U.S. and Canada. The company will host job fairs to recruit for positions at the Grant County site later this month.