Enviva to supply wood chips for coal plant conversions

By Anna Austin | October 20, 2011

Wood pellet manufacturer Enviva LP has made a deal with Dominion Virginia Power to supply two of its proposed biomass plants with wood chips.

Elizabeth Woodworth, a spokeswoman for Enviva, said the amount to be delivered is yet to be determined, but it could be up to 1.3 million tons per year. The wood chips will be transported by truck initially, though potential rail options exist in the future.

Dominion Virginia Power announced its intentions to repower three of its coal-fired plants with biomass in early April. The identical, 63-megawatt (MW) coal-burning power plants are located in Altavista, Hopewell and Southampton County, Va., and have all been operating since 1992. Enviva will supply the Southampton and Hopewell plants with wood chips. Once converted, they will be continuous, 50-MW plants.

A driving force behind the conversions is Virginia’s renewable portfolio standard, which calls for Dominion Virginia Power to generate 15 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2025.

Enviva operates a wood pellet manufacturing plant in Belgium, two in Mississippi, and has several others in various stages of development throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. The company reports that its total annual production capacity will reach 750,000 metric tons by the end of 2011, most of which will be shipped overseas for use by European utilities.