U.K.-based clean-energy company is moving its U.S. headquarters to Atlanta to be nearer to planned wood-pellet production facilities in the Southeast

Drax Biomass Inc. is to bring 50 jobs to Sandy Springs and will spend more than $1 million on a seven-year lease on 10,000 square feet of office space at the Concourse building, the complex that includes the “King and Queen” towers in the Perimeter area.

Most of the jobs will be newly generated over the next five years, while others are to be moved from the current Massachusetts base, which will be retained as a smaller office, a company spokeswoman told Global Atlanta.

Georgia has become a center for exporting wood pellets, which are burned for clean electricity by European power plants that are required by law to reduce carbon emissions. “Fuel wood” exports in Georgia are up 46 percent to $128 million since 2012. Exports to the U.K., the state’s top market for the category, have doubled during that period, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Drax’s relocation, however, is less about the forests of southern Georgia and more about Atlanta’s advantages for companies.

The company’s planned plants are to be located in Mississippi and Louisiana, producing a combined 900,000 metric tons of biomass per year. Drax also plans to put a port facility in Baton Rouge, the Louisiana capital.  

A company spokeswoman said Drax is looking at a variety of export opportunities on the U.S. East Coast but that it was too early to say whether it would consider putting a production facility in Georgia. 

According to a news release, Drax Group plc operates a private power company in the U.K. that produces enough energy to meet 7-8 percent of the country’s demand. That unit is increasingly using biomass to power its operations.

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...

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