CIRI Invests in Wood Biomass Fuel Enterprise

Earlier this year, CIRI became an investor in the Enviva Holdings wood biomass fuel enterprise. The company’s seven plants produce over 3 million metric tons of wood pellets annually. Image courtesy of Enviva. 

One of CIRI’s five corporate values is respect, with a focus on the importance of the history and heritage of CIRI – its land, resources and people – and promoting responsible stewardship of CIRI resources. Respect is a directive the company takes seriously. It guides the actions of our Board and employees and forms a basis for the company’s business decisions.

Throughout the world, countries are recognizing the positive environmental impact wood biomass fuel (wood pellets) can have in replacing coal and providing a renewable source of energy. According to the U.S. Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory, the main advantage of wood over fossil fuel is that wood is a renewable resource, offering a sustainable, dependable supply. Another advantage is that the amount of carbon dioxide emitted during the burning process is typically 90% less than when burning fossil fuel. Wood fuel contains minimal amounts of sulfur and heavy metals, does not pose an acid rain pollution threat and has controllable particulate emissions. It is also significantly less expensive than competing fossil fuels.

Given that, it’s no surprise that the per-year global demand for utility wood pellets has quadrupled since 2010, from 4.9 million metric tons in 2010 to 21.9 million metric tons in 2019. By 2024, global demand is expected to be between 32 million and 54 million metric tons per year. Propelling the increased demand are several renewable energy policies, most notably in Asia and Europe.

Earlier this year, CIRI became an investor in the Enviva Holdings wood biomass fuel enterprise. CIRI’s capital will be deployed through a limited partnership interest in a private equity fund comprised of a single investment in Enviva, resulting in a minority ownership in the fund.

Enviva is well positioned to capitalize on the fast-growing global market for renewable wood pellet utility fuel. As the world’s largest producer of wood pellets, it owns and operates seven plants strategically located in the southeastern U.S. that produce over 3 million metric tons of wood pellets annually.

Enviva strives to not only meet but exceed environmental-impact standards. The company does not contribute to deforestation or forest decline and is certified to meet the standards of major forest sustainability organizations, including the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Forest Stewardship Council and Programme for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification. Compliance with these groups’ requirements is independently audited and verified. Wood pellets are produced using only low-grade or leftover wood that would not otherwise be milled into high-value products such as furniture or lumber.

Through its proprietary Track & Trace system, Enviva tracks every ton of wood it buys back to its origin in the forest or at a sawmill. Any supplier delivering wood to one of its plants must first share the details about the forest and characteristics of the tract from which the wood is sourced with Enviva’s forestry staff so the company can verify the fiber meets its strict sustainability criteria.

Enviva boasts the largest contracted order backlog in the industry and an extremely strong new-deal pipeline. Combined with its operations and manufacturing expertise, established customer relationships and multi-national market, it is well positioned to take advantage of the growing worldwide demand for sustainably sourced wood-pellet fuel.

“The Enviva opportunity is well aligned with CIRI’s strategy to continue investing in renewable, sustainable and dependable energy resources that reduce carbon emissions and limit dependence on fossil fuels,” said Suzanne Settle, vice president, CIRI Energy, Land and Resources. “Solar and wind power continue to expand, and biomass fuels are another important part of the mix of renewable energy options. We’re excited to invest in this growing global industry.”

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