Drax Logo

Introduction

Drax Logo

ForestScope

Discover the steps we take to ensure our wood pellet supply chain is better for our forests, our planet and our future.
Scroll to explore
icons/scrollDown Created with Sketch.

Sustainable biomass, in the form of compressed wood pellets, plays a vital role in our departure from coal, towards an affordable, lower carbon, flexible energy future.

As a responsible, forward-thinking business it is essential that we source from certified and sustainable, suppliers.

Where do our wood pellets come from? How do they get to Yorkshire? And what role do they play in ensuring more productive, better forests?

Wood pellets at Drax:

We source from forests in the US South where more carbon is absorbed than removed.

Although the area of many of our source forests has remained around the same size for years, active management of these resources increases growth and carbon storage.

Thinning operations increase the growth of the biggest and best trees, ensuring more carbon is stored in longer term, solid wood products such as those used in furniture and construction.

Opening the forest floor and clearing debris reduces the risk of fire and increases the growth of ground flora.

Responsible, active management also boosts carbon stock as the stands of younger, faster growing trees that are re-established after felling absorb even more carbon dioxide than stands of older, over-mature trees.

With these practices in use, the volume of trees in our US source forests, which we refer to as growing stock, has significantly increased since the 1950s.

Annual forest growth in the US South increased from 193 million cubic metres in 1953 to 408 million cubic metres in 2015. During that same 62-year period, inventory more than doubled from 4 billion cubic metres in 1953 to 8.4 billion in 2015.

There is now more surplus growth in the forests of the US South than ever before in modern times.

The more sustainable wood we use, the more forests can be encouraged to grow. Increased demand for wood in the US South has been statistically correlated with increased annual tree growth and more wood volume available in the forest.

But this increased growth has also created excess supply. Over the last 25 years, the US South has not only increased its total wood supply – the surplus annual growth (compared to removals) each year has quadrupled.

Surplus forest growth in US South

1990
2015
45 million cubic metres
162 million cubic metres
Total wood supply
297 million cubic metres
Total wood supply
408 million cubic metres

Sustainable biomass complements the land owner’s ability to make a living from other wood industries.

Drax does not take high quality wood from other industries. Sustainable biomass is largely made up of low grade wood and low value residues produced as a bi-product of the production and processing of higher value solid wood products (e.g. saw-timber for construction and furniture). These feedstocks can be used for renewable, low carbon energy.

The primary proportions of a wood harvest are broken into four distinct categories:

Proportional use of wood harvest in the USA, 2016

Sawlogs and veneer
166 million cubic metres
Pulpwood
177 million cubic metres
Wood fuel
45.45 million cubic metres
Other industrial roundwood
13.4 million cubic metres
Sawlogs and veneer Pulpwood Wood fuel Other industrial roundwood

Low grade wood and residues used for pellets:

13.43 million cubic metres

3.34% of the total harvest
9.89 million cubic metres of that is exported, or
2.46% of the total harvest
8.2 million cubic metres of that is used by Drax, or just
2% of the total harvest

Biomass is vital to the UK’s committment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change. In 2017 the sustainable US wood pellets used at Drax Power Station generated a large amount of the UK's renewable electricity.

Total renewable electricity, UK

Biomass is vital to the UK’s committment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change. In 2017 the sustainable US wood pellets used at Drax Power Station generated a large amount of the UK's renewable electricity.

  • 9%

    of the UK's renewable power was produced by US wood pellets at Drax

  • 6%

    By wood pellets at Drax from Canada, Latvia, Estonia, Brazil and other EU

  • 85%

    By other renewable power generators - wind, solar, biomass and hydro

To make the process as efficient as possible, we've set up our own processing plants. In 2017, they supplied 12% of the wood pellets used at Drax Power Station.

We are focused on self-supplying 30% of Drax Power Station's sustainable biomass needs by 2025.

By operating a profitable, safe and sustainable business close to the well-managed forests that we rely on, we're able to control a growing part of our supply chain in a cost-efficient way.

Each harvest gets delivered to one of our bespoke processing plants before going through a process called pelletisation – turning harvested material into biomass fuel.

Morehouse Energy

Location
Louisiana
Employees
60+
Production capacity (tonnes)
525,000
Morehouse BioEnergy is located in northeastern Louisiana near the town of Bastrop. The plant was commissioned in August 2015 and sits on 138 acres of land. Morehouse BioEnergy maintains a workforce of more than 60 employees, and can produce up to 525,000 tonnes of pellets annually.

Amite Energy

Location
Mississippi
Employees
60+
Production capacity (tonnes)
525,000
Amite BioEnergy is located in southwestern Mississippi in the town of Gloster. The plant was commissioned in August 2015 and sits on 62 acres of land. Amite BioEnergy maintains a workforce of more than 60 employees, and can produce up to 525,000 tonnes of pellets annually.

LaSalle Energy

Location
Louisiana
Employees
70+
Production capacity (tonnes)
450,000
Located in the central Louisiana town of Urania, LaSalle BioEnergy was built in 2015 and then purchased by Drax Biomass in April 2017. The 285-acre wood pellet manufacturing facility will employ approximately 78 employees and can produce approximately 450,000 tonnes of wood pellets per year. In November 2017 LaSalle BioEnergy began start up production.

Baton Rouge Transit

Location
Louisiana
Employees
10
Shipments per year
40
In partnership with Host Terminals, Baton Rouge Transit maintains a workforce of 10. At peak operation, the Transit Facility is capable of loading approximately 40 vessels per year. All of our US South facilities are strategically placed to reduce shipping times, reduce emissions, and lower costs.

Almost one third of the earth’s land mass is covered by forests. That’s an area of around 4 billion hectares, or roughly four times the size of the US.

In addition to being a prominent feature across the global landscape, forests and trees also play a significant role in how we live. They make the air cleaner in cities and absorb carbon from the atmosphere. They provide bio-diversity and habits for wildlife. They also provide essential forest products such as paper, building materials and wood pellets for energy.

Forests and wood fuel are more powerful than you might think:

  • They’re a major source of renewable energy
  • They can revitalise economies
  • They can help mitigate climate change

Thanks for taking the time to visit Drax ForestScope. We hope to improve this website to include data from a wider variety of our suppliers, from multiple countries.