Enviva Chairman and CEO Releases Statement Following Issuance of Air Permit for its Northampton Facility by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality
BETHESDA, Md.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Enviva Partners, LP (“Enviva”), the world’s largest producer of wood pellets, a renewable and sustainable energy source used to generate electricity and heat , issued a statement today thanking the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Air Quality for issuing an air permit for Enviva’s request to voluntarily increase air quality controls at their Northampton wood pellet production plant. The permit comes after an extensive review process that included a public comment period, a well-attended public hearing at the Northampton County High School, and numerous public comments.
Enviva’s Chairman & CEO John Keppler issued the following statement:
“On behalf of the entire company, I would like to send a sincere thank you to the North Carolina Division of Air Quality’s leadership as well as to the entire state of North Carolina for their support of Enviva.
“Every day, scientists are calling for a faster transition to an all-in renewable energy solution – and one that includes wood biomass. In August 2019, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a Special Report on Climate Change and Land concluding that sustainable forest management and bioenergy are critical climate change mitigation measures and can elicit environmental benefits. Bioenergy is, in fact, a necessary component in every pathway that the IPCC models to keep temperature changes within 1.5°C.
“As we grow to meet the increasing global demand for sustainable biomass fuel, we will continue to make substantial investments in environmental control technology, reflecting our continued strong commitment to having a positive impact on the environment and our local communities.
“The issuance of the permit is a great example of that. The approval of our voluntary air quality control measures will ensure the company continues to comply with all regulations while improving the efficiency of the facility. Provisions of the permit will also allow us to increase the plant’s permitted production volume. These increased production volumes, like those across the Enviva portfolio, are contracted under long-term agreements many of which extend into the mid-2040s.
“Robust markets for all forest products, including the low-grade wood that is used to make our pellets, have led in recent decades to important investments on the ground in North Carolina forests. Between 2011, the year in which we opened our first wood pellet production plant, and 2018, forest inventory in our overall supply base in North Carolina has increased by 4.6 billion cubic feet and forest area has grown by nearly 200,000 acres.
“Enviva will continue to be a good neighbor in the Northampton community by having a positive impact on our environment and working to ensure healthy, well-managed forests continue to grow and thrive. We are proud to be part of an all-in renewable energy solution for people around the world using the tremendous resources grown locally in North Carolina.”
About Enviva’s Northampton wood pellet production plant:
Enviva has invested over $100 million at its Northampton plant, and in addition spends approximately $70 million in operating expenses per year. According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of families in Northampton County living below the poverty rate has decreased by over 15 percent since Enviva’s Northampton plant opened.
In addition, the plant:
- Contributes over $150 million annually in regional economic impact;
- Supports nearly 300 direct and indirect jobs;
- Average hourly wage is more than double the per capita county income.
About the Northampton permit:
In consultation with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Enviva requested modifications to the air permit for the Northampton plant that will allow it to:
- Install additional air emission controls equipment to further minimize air emissions;
- Increase the permitted production volume by about 235,000 metric tons of pellets per year; and
- Increase the permitted percentage of softwood (pine).
Additional background information on the permits and Enviva’s operations:
- Enviva made a commitment to voluntarily install additional air emissions control equipment that are above and beyond what is required under the Clean Air Act for this type of permit.
- The new air quality control measures will ensure the company meets or exceeds all regulations while improving the efficiency of the plant.
- Enviva conducted due diligence to confirm that the plant’s sourcing area has commercially available low-value wood that meets its strict sustainability requirements in sufficient qualities to supply the plant at the proposed increased production level.
- Enviva’s Responsible Sourcing Policy requires that the company only source low-value wood from tracts that will be remain as working forest.
- The permitted increase in the percentage of pine will provide greater flexibility in Enviva’s sourcing while allowing it to meet customer demands for wood pellets with higher energy value.
Additional Background on Enviva and Renewable Wood Energy
- At the multinational level, on August 8, 2019, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”), which continues to drive climate policies around the globe, released a Special Report on Climate Change and Land (the “SRCCL”). This report pointed out that a sustainable future depends on a diverse managed forest products industry that includes sawtimber, pulpwood, and bioenergy. This is a reiteration of IPCC’s long-standing view, as expressed in the October 2018 Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C, that biomass and bioenergy must play a key role under every single pathway to achieve the goal of limiting climate change to 1.5-degrees Celsius. The International Renewable Energy Agency (“IRENA”), in its recently published Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050 report (the “IRENA Roadmap”), not only reiterated IPCC’s view on the critical role of biomass, but also called for a tripling of the amount of modern biomass used for energy production from 5 percent today to 16 percent by 2050, as it laid out its own proposed global pathway to a carbon-neutral and renewable future by 2050.
- Bioenergy is part of an all-in strategy to reduce carbon emissions and limit dependence on fossil fuels. Biomass energy offers a 74-85% lifecycle reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared with coal. Power generation using biomass also provides a reliable, clean source of energy that complements the intermittency of wind and solar energy, enabling a stable grid without having to rely on fossil powered backup.
- American forest inventories are increasing every year. Today, in the U.S. Southeast private forest owners are growing 40% more wood than they remove every year. Only 2% of the working forests in the Southeastern U.S. are harvested each year, while the remaining 98% are in various stages of regrowth, continuing to grow and store carbon. Working forests thrive when managed sustainably. Enviva plays a crucial role in helping ensure the protection and growth of forests. Enviva does not source from forests that will be converted to another land use.
- U.S. Forest Service data show that forest inventory is increasing in the sourcing regions for all of Enviva’s plants including those in North Carolina; in fact, there is a clear upward trend during the period since Enviva started operations.
- The key to keeping forests as forests is strong demand for forest products – including the additional value of being able to sell low-value wood for bioenergy. Additional demand raises the value landowners can get from keeping their land as managed forests. Absent strong demand, landowners have the incentive to convert their land for a higher return. That could mean a farm, a housing development, or a strip mall.
- Enviva provides landowners with a key market for their low-value wood – including “thinnings,” tops & limbs, and other low-grade trees that would otherwise not get used for lumber or other higher value products. Enviva plays a crucial role in helping ensure the protection and growth of forests.
- Enviva is certified to the stringent standards of the world’s foremost forestry organizations, such as the Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). These independent forest certification programs provide a consistent, verifiable, and transparent framework for evaluating the sustainability of a company’s operations, from forest to product. Enviva believes that landowner certification of forestland is a good thing, and so they pay more for fiber from certified forests. Enviva engages in ongoing landowner outreach and education and makes direct investments to support certifications of forestlands. As Enviva continues to work to increase the total percentage of lands certified, they also ensure that non-certified fiber comes from responsible sources.
- Enviva has also developed “Track & Trace® ,” an industry-leading sustainable sourcing program, which provides transparent, publicly available data about Enviva’s sourcing. Track & Trace® works with its supply chain partners to verify and document the origin of all of their wood. As part of this program Enviva pays particular attention to land use change, use and effectiveness of Best Management Practices, wetlands, biodiversity, and certification status.
About Enviva Partners, LP
Enviva Partners, LP (NYSE: EVA) is a publicly traded master limited partnership that aggregates a natural resource, wood fiber, and processes it into a transportable form, wood pellets. The Partnership sells a significant majority of its wood pellets through long-term, take-or-pay off-take contracts with creditworthy customers in the United Kingdom and Europe. The Partnership owns and operates seven plants with a combined production capacity of over 3.5 million metric tons of wood pellets per year in Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Florida. In addition, the Partnership exports wood pellets through its marine terminals at the Port of Chesapeake, Virginia and the Port of Wilmington, North Carolina and from third-party marine terminals in Mobile, Alabama and Panama City, Florida.
To learn more about Enviva Partners, LP, please visit our website at www.envivabiomass.com.