World's Largest Biomass Pellet Plant Opens in Florida

Pile of Pine Pellets at Green Circle Biomass Plant

image courtesy of Green Circle Bio Energy

Jackson County, Florida can now claim a world record: that of having the world's largest biomass pellet plant. Recently opened by Green Circle Bio Energy, the 225 acre plant will manufacture wood pellets from Southern Yellow Pine and ship them via train to Panama City, from where they will be shipped to the EU. The plant has a capacity of 560,000 tons per year and, according to the Green Circle's website, uses "minimal fossil fuels" in production.

Commenting on the plant opening, Jackson Country Commissioner Chuck Lockey said, "I think it puts Jackson County in a new light, not just state wide, but world wide, as far as environmentally sensitive uses of natural resources. The pellet plant in a green product and there is a trend in this country to go green along with it."

If it feels like there's a catch somewhere in this one, you might be right. It seems that the primary purchasers of these pellets will be coal-based power plants for co-firing. Which makes me a bit torn on this one: While biomass electric generation is certainly a good thing, and anything that gets us (the collective human we) away from burning coal is undeniably positive environmentally, it seems to me that there is a better solution than processing wood pellets in Florida and shipping them to the EU to generate power...Even if it appears from Green Circle's estimate of net energy gain comes out positive.

What does everyone think on this one?

Graph of Net Energy of Biomass Pellets

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