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Tuesday, November 6, 2012 - 12:59pm

Georgia's Pine Pellet Industry Booming

Enova Energy plans to build a $100 million plant near Macon that will convert pine trees into wood pellets. It’s one of a string of recent development announcements from Georgia’s booming pine pellet industry.

Enova plans to break ground shortly on the plant outside of Gordon. It’s one of several it will build in Georgia.

The announcement follows news from General Biofuels that it will spend $60 million to build a wood pellet manufacturing plant in Sandersville.

Jill Stuckey is with the state-run Herty Advanced Materials Development Center in Savannah. She says companies have invested almost $500 million in pine pellet plants in Georgia.

She says the process works like this:

“You cut down a pine tree. You squeeze all the water out and you form a pellet," she explained. "These pellets are then put on ships, they go to Europe and they are being co-fired to make electricity to help the EU make renewable energy.”

European utilities are leading the way, she says.

Ben Easterlin is with Enova Energy in Atlanta. He says that's because the European Union is driving companies there to reduce their carbon footprint.

“The European utilities are using the wood pellets to co-fire in their power plants in lieu of coal,” he said.

He says South Georgia’s large timber acreage makes the area ideal for these plants.