SE Biomass Conference Sessions Focus on Pellets
True to its regional appeal, the Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show Nov. 1-3 in Atlanta, Ga., will feature two panel discussions focused on pellets alone, one being the general session panel that kicks off the entire event.
It’s more than fitting, as the Southeast U.S. represents our country’s greatest opportunity to take advantage of already-stellar and still burgeoning pellet markets in Europe.
We learned at the Northeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show in Pittsburgh that the Northeast U.S. lacks a number of factors absolutely required for a solid wood pellet export market, not the least of which being deepwater ports. That region only has two and they’re both located in northern Maine. Although one proposed pellet mill will be able to take advantage of that infrastructure, the less-than-desirable setup leaves the rest at an exporting disadvantage. A big one.
In the Southeast, however, pellet exports are becoming so appealing that the Georgia Port Authority has announced it will expand its East River Terminal at the Port of Brunswick to facilitate delivery of pellets to the growing international market. Maybe it’s because I’ve become an utter pellet dweeb, but that news is tremendously exciting to me.
And, lucky for my fellow dweebs and me, that’s not even the only exciting news coming out of the Southeast. The Green Energy Farms Alliance and its goal of creating a diverse biomass portfolio in Georgia also triggers my happy dance. The alliance is developing two mills in Georgia to produce wood and miscanthus pellets, targeting customers in the European power industry.
Emphasizing this clearly enormous opportunity in the Southeast U.S., our conference general session panel Nov. 2 will be a producers’ perspective on the growing industry. It will feature John Bradley, vice president of business development for Fulghum Fibers Inc.; Sam Kang, managing director of Georgia Biomass; Michael Williams, director of strategy and planning for the Westervelt Company, the parent company of Westervelt Renewable Energy, which just held a groundbreaking for its new Aliceville, Ala., pellet facility Oct. 25; and Pete Najera, vice president of operations for Enviva. The panel’s moderator, appropriately enough, is Seth Ginther, executive director of the U.S. Industrial Pellet Association.
The day’s final feedstock track breakout session, ‘Within the Wood Basket: Taking Advantage of Pellet Production Opportunities in the U.S. Southeast,’ is equally exciting (and not just because I named it). Karl Heinz Schulz vice president of technology and engineering for BiEnergy Group; Tracy Leslie, director of sales for Enviva Biomass, and Jose Ignacio Pedrajas, business development manager and co-owner of Prodesa, will present a broad look at the region’s potential, touching on mill design errors, demand, market drivers, and more.
I know one proud pellet dweeb and blogger who will thoroughly enjoy the insight this event and its speakers have to offer.