Mystery surrounding the large, white domes solved

The enormous, white domes have become the new centerpiece at the Port of Savannah, causing many to wonder what they are.

There's not much to see inside, but soon both Georgia Biomass' domes will be filled with tons of tiny wood pellets, which will be ready to be shipped to Europe to be used as a source of renewable energy.

"This is the largest storage facility in this area and actually the plant that's being built is the largest wood pellet plant in the world," said Project Manager Brad Orwig.

It's expected 25,000 metric tons of pellets will be shipped every two and a half weeks once the plant is in full operation, scheduled to happen later this month. Orwig explains how the process works.

"The trains will come in here. They're spotted over the pit. We open the bottom gates. They feed into our rail pits. Our belt conveyor one transports the pellets to our belt conveyor two, which transports the pellets to belt conveyor three, which in turn comes up out of the rail pit, up to the transfer tower, then on to belt conveyor four, which takes you to the top of the domes," he said.

Once the wood pellets go through the in-bound system, they're then stored in one of the two white domes. Wood chips are being used because they hold less water than wood chips, making it more cost-effective for shipping.

Georgia Biomass' CFO and COO, Sam Kang, said the entire operation isn't only good for Europe, but it's also great for Georgia's economy, creating nearly 100 jobs and bringing in millions of dollars.

"The amount of fiber that we'll be buying it's equivalent to about 35 to 50 million in recurring annual revenue. So what I like to say is it's the gift that keeps on giving," Kang said. "The other thing is we're talking about an export market where this is about $50 million for the state of Georgia and that's also a very good thing for the state, I believe."

In one year, Georgia Biomass is expected to produce 750,000 metric tons of wood pellets, all of which will make their way through one of the two white domes visible to all in the Savannah area.

Copyright 2011 WTOC. All rights reserved.