Central Louisiana’s Clean & Green Energy Corridor: Pioneers of Progress and Sustainability
In the heart of the Bayou State, where tradition and innovation converge, Central Louisiana is undergoing a remarkable energy evolution that is not just redefining its industrial landscape but paving the way for a sustainable future. As Louisiana Central proudly celebrates Manufacturing Month, it’s only fitting that we turn the spotlight on the growing clean and green energy sector that’s breathing new life into this region. With a focus on forging a path toward sustainability, we showcase some of the regional trailblazers of this movement, each contributing in their unique way. “As we celebrate Manufacturing Month, we are highlighting some key clean and green manufacturing companies that have chosen to locate in our region,” Lafe Jones, Vice President of Louisiana Central said. “From Syrah Resources in Concordia Parish, over to Drax Biomass in LaSalle, and announced plans for Ucore Rare Metals and SunGas to locate in Rapides Parish, it is clear we have available what these companies need in resources and access. In addition, Cleco is leading the way with planned clean energy solutions and carbon sequestration. We are excited to see where this trend leads us all in the future.”
Syrah Resources: Powering the U.S. Electronic Vehicle Battery Demand
This developing new energy alley that’s taking shape in Central Louisiana is sparking new jobs and fresh investments while respecting the diverse energy landscape that makes the Louisiana Central region the place to #MakeGoodStuff. On the region’s eastern border is Syrah Resources, a global business supplying the rapidly growing markets for natural graphite and active anode material products. The company’s investment of $176 million to expand its Syrah Technologies graphite processing facility in Vidalia gives the state a supply-chain foothold in the rapidly expanding market for electric vehicle components produced in the United States.
Syrah Resources has created approximately 100 new jobs so far, with average annual salaries of $69,000, plus benefits. (source: https://bit.ly/Syrah-Expands)
The expansion of the Vidalia Active Anode Facility, which will allow for the annual production of an estimated 11,250 tons of AAM, is central to Syrah’s strategy to become a large-scale vertically integrated natural graphite AAM supply option for the growing U.S. battery supply chain and electric vehicle market. Syrah Vidalia
SunGas Renewables Paves the Way for Green Methanol Production in Central Louisiana
Moving west, a big announcement was made in July by SunGas Renewables Inc., a subsidiary of GTI Energy. SunGas Renewables is at the forefront of the decarbonization movement, offering its System 1000 renewable syngas product to external partners for the production of renewable hydrogen and biofuels. Simultaneously, the company is actively engaged in the development and investment of low-carbon biofuels enterprises.
SunGas Renewables announced the formation of Beaver Lake Renewable Energy, LLC (“BLRE”), which will construct a new green methanol production facility in Pineville. A wholly-owned subsidiary of SunGas Renewables, BLRE is expected to generate from the facility nearly 400,000 metric tons of green methanol per year for marine fuel while creating more than 1,150 jobs during construction and more than 100 local jobs during operation.
Green methanol produced by BLRE is expected to be used to fuel A.P. Moller–Maersk’s fleet of methanol-powered container vessels and will utilize wood fiber from local, sustainably-managed forests.
SunGas Renewables anticipates BLRE will invest approximately $2 billion to construct the project at the former International Paper facility in Rapides Parish. The BLRE facility is expected to begin construction in late 2024, with commercial operations commencing in 2027. (source: Sungas )
Rare Earth Materials & Carbon Sequestration: Transformation Technology
Just across the Red River and on either side of Interstate 49, we find two more manufacturing companies leading the industry in moving our region toward cleaner and greener energy. In a pivotal move towards enhancing the strategic importance of Central Louisiana in the clean energy sector, Ucore North America, a subsidiary of Ucore Rare Metals Inc., made a groundbreaking announcement to invest $75 million to establish North America’s first modern technology rare earth element separation and purification facility at England Airpark in Rapides Parish. This Louisiana Strategic Metals Complex will establish a U.S.-based supply chain of rare earth oxides required to manufacture electric vehicle motors, wind turbine generators, and a variety of consumer goods, including smart phones and power tools.
The company expects to create 100 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of more than $50,000. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in 298 additional new indirect jobs, for a total of 398 new jobs in the Central Region. This investment underscores the region’s growing reputation as a hub for sustainable technologies and rare earth materials. (Source: ucore in Alexandria)
Further, Cleco’s Diamond Vault project is poised to be a game-changer in the energy landscape. Cleco Power, a regulated electric public utility that serves 291,000 customers in 24 Louisiana parishes, announced their investment of $900 million to build a carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) facility to remove and compress 95% or more of the CO2 emitted by Madison-3 and permanently store it in a geological formation under the site. It is estimated to create 30 to 40 direct new jobs and an average of 1,100 construction jobs in Central Louisiana over a three-year period. https://bit.ly/diamond-vault
Located in Lena, this innovative project represents a significant step towards enhancing energy storage capabilities, a vital component of the region’s commitment to green and sustainable energy solutions. (See: Cleco’s vision)
Drax Biomass: Fostering Global Sustainability through Renewable Resources in Central Louisiana
Moving north to LaSalle Parish, Drax Biomass has a presence not only in Central Louisiana but also beyond the country’s borders. Biomass is created right here in Urania, in the form of compressed wood pellets, which is a low-carbon replacement for coal that is used at power stations to generate renewable energy such as electricity and heat. This sustainable biomass is helping to provide the renewable electricity the United Kingdom needs to decarbonize the grid and support more renewables to come online, enabling other sectors to decarbonize, such as transport. https://www.drax.com/biomass/
Drax’s North America operations are strategically located in the U.S. and Canada, providing ready access to large tracts of responsibly managed working forests, modern infrastructure, and an available workforce of trained loggers, wood haulers, plant operators, and other critical specialties. The company sources the biomass from strictly sustainably managed working forests, utilizes by-products and waste from timber and forest industries, and uses innovation and technology to help reduce carbon emissions. Locating in Central Louisiana allows Drax to easily fulfill their mission to use renewable resources like Louisiana’s abundant forests to fuel a more sustainable world.
By diligent sourcing of these materials to make pellets, this activity can help forest owners and the larger forest industry make the best use of forests, achieving both decarbonization and positive forest outcomes.
Central Louisiana is Emerging as a Clean & Green Energy Manufacturing Hub
Central Louisiana’s clean energy revolution is propelling the region into a promising future. Jim Clinton, President and CEO of Louisiana Central, said, “Over the last few years, we have seen our region begin to emerge as a clean and green energy manufacturing corridor. The combination of available land, a strong infrastructure and transportation system, and a trained workforce make this area attractive for many types of manufacturing. For clean manufacturing companies, our location provides easy access to renewable resources like our forests, while being far enough from the coast to be less impacted by climate issues than more vulnerable areas of the state. We see manufacturing growth continuing in our region, and clean and green energy investments will be a significant part of that growth. The oil and gas sector continues to be an important part of the economy. However, we believe the global demand for clean, efficient energy allows our region to be a more important part of this rapidly evolving sector like never before. The capital investments and new jobs created by this trend can be major factors in Central Louisiana’s growth.”
Manufacturing Month 2023
Manufacturing Month celebrates the Central Louisiana region’s creators, doers, and makers while spotlighting the diverse, innovative, and impactful local manufacturing industry throughout October. Louisiana Central partnered with manufacturing leaders, educators, and media to expose students and underrepresented individuals to manufacturing careers. This initiative raises awareness of the industry’s impact, investments, and future prospects in our region, aiming to inspire interest in manufacturing jobs and increase understanding of local career options.
Louisiana Central Connection
The manufacturers who call this region home have chosen to build, invest, and live here because of the many resources and incentives our region has to offer, including support from local organizations like Louisiana Central, the unique workforce, the available education and training providers, the innovative infrastructure, and the quality of life Central Louisiana provides.
From an operations perspective, this region offers established and easily accessible transport options that hold significant appeal to the vast majority of manufacturers. Local assets include our central location, north-south and east-west highway access, England Airpark, class one railroad service, and multiple ports on the Red and Mississippi Rivers. These transportation options make the region strategically attractive for manufacturers that need to move materials, supplies, products, etc. across the country.
In addition, strong partnerships with education partners has established the Cenla Work Ready Network for current and future industry needs—something appealing to new industry, as well as companies currently operating in the area. Business leaders also recognize the importance of relationships that help provide meaningful connections when growing and maintaining a company. Access to supporting organizations such as the Louisiana Central Manufacturing Council is another impactful incentive for company leaders choosing to build and expand here.