Shelburne stays wary about wood pellet plant proposal10/10/2012
Buoyed by investments in shipbuilding and aquaculture, Shelburne is undergoing a mini economic boom and is openly courting more businesses for the rural area, the chairman of the Economic Development Council of South West Nova says.
But despite positive economic activity, Pat Melanson said it’s too early to comment on a Georgia entrepreneur’s wood pellet plant proposal.
“We’ve seen positive, proactive business and industrial growth, but we still have to remain cautious until we see shovels in the ground,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
Peter Lane, the vice-president of project development for Georgia Biofuels LLC, and a team of business partners are quietly eyeing the business case for a wood pellet operation in Shelburne.
Lane said in a recent interview that he is scoping out a 16-hectare industrial site next to Shelburne Harbour, which would accommodate an expanded facility with onshore fish farming, hydroponics, carbon dioxide capture and algae production.
But the land is currently owned by Nova Scotia Business Inc., which is negotiating its sale to the Municipality of Shelburne.
Kirk Cox, the district’s chief administrative officer, said it’s too soon to consider any offers.
“From our perspective, we’re not going to entertain his offer or any others until we buy the land,” Cox said in an interview, noting that he spoke briefly with Lane about a week ago.
“We’re focusing our efforts on buying the property first, then council will put forward various criteria for the property.”
Cox said he expects “several entities” will be interested in the land, and the sales process will be open and transparent.
“We’re not buying the property to flip. We’re buying the property to develop and create economic opportunity in the area.”
Cox said any businesses that “come knocking on our door to invest in the area we treat seriously, if it’s a legitimate investment.”
“We worked hard to explain to companies like Cooke Aquaculture and Irving Shipyards that we’re investment-friendly and we were successful.”
Meanwhile, a recent report found the biomass sector — in particular, solid fuels such as wood pellets — has continued to grow steadily in recent years.
The Renewables 2012 Global Status Report by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century said in a July report that “global new investment in renewable power and fuels increased by 17 per cent to a new record of US$257 billion.”
The report also noted the growing use of biomass for heat, electricity and transport fuels that has increased international trade in biomass fuels, especially wood pellets.
“Markets are expanding rapidly, particularly in Europe, where biomass is used increasingly in district heat systems.”
Lane said Shelburne is an ideal location for a wood pellet plant because there is abundant feedstock in the region for wood chips.
The pellets would be exported to Europe, Lane said, shipping directly from Shelburne’s deep-sea harbour.
(The Chronicle Herald)