is a major reason why Dallas County and a vacant State Docks grain silo
facility adjacent to the Alabama River were chosen for the wood pellet
project. The state is leasing the facility at a very reasonable rate,
according to Dallas County officials.
said the total transformation time from raw wood to pellets will only be
a couple of hours. The company anticipates three shifts with employees
working around the clock to produce the wood pellets.
the pellets are produced from sawdust and other wood fiber sources, they
will be loaded aboard barges and shipped to Mobile where they will be on
their way to the Netherlands and the port at Rotterdam.
there, the pellets will be headed to anxiously awaiting European
customers to help fuel mammoth power generation facilities.
a Dallas County native and successful forestry executive, said his
company expects to produce about a million tons of wood pellets once it
is operational. Compaction and other treatment procedures are expected
to reduce the final amount produced at the plant.
said the first few months of this year will be devoted to development of
a wood procurement plan and then put into place.
be dealing with several area mills," he said. "Right now we’re
looking at buying wood from all of central Alabama, probably within a
100 mile radius of Selma."
addition to standing trees, Traylor said New Gas Concepts will be buying
wood waste as a result of right-of-way clearing, road widening projects
and other sources.
of winding up in landfills, we’ll retrieve it from there to be used
for pellets," Traylor said. "Selma and Dallas County have a
lot of wood waste that winds up being discarded."
financial aspect of retrieving waste wood is expected to benefit both
the company and the city of Selma.
costing the city to get rid of the wood headed to landfills and we’ll
be able to take it off their hands," said Traylor, indicating waste
wood retrieval will be a "win-win" situation for New Gas
Concepts and the municipal government.
pellets are popular in frigid regions of the United States and Europe
and a brisk home heating business has developed. The pellets are used to
keep families warm in climates where temperatures often drop toward or
Italy, a large market for automatically-fed pellet stoves has developed.
Austria has the largest market in Europe for pellet central heating
October, New England Wood Pellet LLC announced it has begun construction
of its manufacturing plant in Schuyler, N.Y. Officials said it will
produce 100,000 tons of pellets a year and become the largest of its
kind in the United States—producing enough renewable energy annually
to heat 40,000 homes.
$12 million plant, within sight of the New York Thruway, is expected to
have 20 employees when it begins production this May. Another 75 jobs
are to be created by the facility in trucking and retailing and the
local economy is expected to jump more than $10 million a year.
compared with Dallas County’s $60 million project, the one in New
England operation should come in a distant second according to New Gas
Concepts officials who predict their facility will become the largest of
its kind in the world. They say their wood pellet capacity should be
much larger than the one being built for homeowner heat in New England.
is a big difference between wood pellets to heat one house and another
to power huge generators. That was a major factor in developing pellets
for generators instead of small heating furnaces.
and Traylor say New Gas Concepts might one day consider going into the
home heating business, but it is focusing right now on providing
European customers with enough wood pellets to provide fuel for giant
industrial power generators.
plus for the New Gas Concepts investors is the fact that production of
wood pellets isn’t new. It’s been around for a while, thus reducing
the chances of failure on a brand new venture.
selection of Dallas County was not by accident. The company spent a long
time considering locations in the U.S. and Europe and settled on the
site next to the Alabama River for several reasons.
for Commerce President Wayne Vardaman said "Alabama’s strong
sustainable forestry program, waterways and a great workforce pool fit
the profile for success."
was just as enthusiastic, saying he and his aides found a location that
fit right into their plans of making New Gas Concepts the largest
facility of its kind in the world.
is a much bigger need over there where European countries are looking
for alternatives to oil," Bates said after Riley congratulated him
and his staff.
everything falls into place the way Bates and his associates believe
they will, Alabama will become a driving force in helping Europe achieve
what it wants in terms of energy independence.
won’t be bad for Selma and Dallas County, either.
Benn is a freelance writer from Selma.