There have been a range of arguments against the viability of biofuels as a renewable energy source, but, as with so many other developing industries, the technologies change, creating a new picture of an old idea. In the case of biofuels, the big change is a remarkable plant called Giant King Grass (GKG), proprietary to VIASPACE, a California-based renewable energy company. GKG puts biofuels back on the front burner in a big way, ensuring VIASPACE a promising place in the world’s accelerating move to renewable energy.
Early ideas regarding biofuels centered around waste product combustion, the use of wood or agricultural byproducts that are normally discarded. It sounded reasonable, but problems with the approach soon became clear. Global markets for such waste products are seasonal and often unpredictable, leading to fluctuating cost factors that make it difficult or impossible to form financially sound operational plans. As a result, financing, a core component of any developing industry, becomes problematic. Dedicated biomass crops began to emerge as a better way to go, offering more stable costs and predictable economics. But then a question that had begun to develop with waste sourcing started to pick up steam. A growing resistance to the use of food-related waste or agricultural lands was becoming a major obstacle. With food supplies remaining a serious issue in much of the developing world, anything that might negatively affect already tight supply/demand economics is increasingly shunned.
Attention was turning to wind and solar, seen by some as more elegant energy sources, though the shortcomings of these alternatives have since also become important economic issues. The fact that the sun doesn’t shine all day, and the wind doesn’t always blow, began to expose the inadequacies of current energy storage technologies. Today there are dozens of elaborate proposals for storing energy generated by wind and solar, but all of them have notable limitations. In addition, besides requiring the development of more and better technologies, wind and solar, as well as various other energy sources, depend upon significant additional infrastructure, a costly burden in a rough global economy.
The reason VIASPACE’s Giant King Grass is being seen as a major new player is its uniquely effective way of addressing all of the above mentioned issues. Giant King Grass is the fastest growing, most cost-efficient energy crop available, yet is neither genetically modified nor invasive. It grows in a variety of soil conditions and does not compete with food crops, one of the standard arguments against biofuels. GKG is perennial and can be harvested several times per year. It is best grown in tropical and subtropical regions, where suitable land is plentiful, labor is inexpensive, and governments are actively seeking new industries that are both economically and environmentally friendly.
GKG is a hyper-efficient dedicated energy crop that has an almost zero carbon footprint, because it absorbs as much carbon dioxide as it releases when burned. From an economic standpoint it outshines virtually every other new renewable energy source, partly because it requires almost no new technologies or infrastructure. Using well-understood existing power plant technologies, GKG is a perfectly timed resource that generates energy exactly when needed, in any weather, day or night. As a result, it is attractive to governments all over the world, and is in fact already being started in various developing countries as well as in Hawaii where the cost of energy is high due to imported fuel. It creates local jobs while generating local and economical clean energy.
As if all this weren’t enough, GKG can be transformed for other uses. It can be compacted and pelletized for easy transport to remote power plants, and can also be chemically transformed into a variety of biofuels, biochemicals, and bio plastics. It can even be converted into bio-methane for use in heating, cooking, electricity generation, and as a vehicle fuel.
VIASPACE provides seedlings for their proprietary Giant King Grass, plus technical expertise to qualified bioenergy projects that need a low-cost and reliable fuel or feedstock, with a number of projects already underway. VIASPACE can also serve as a project developer or co-developer for power plant or pellet mill projects, together with local partners that have land and requirements for electricity, heat, pellets, biogas, or biofuels. VIASPACE and its partners have the capability to deliver an integrated Giant King Grass plantation and biomass power plant project in 24 months, and the company has financial models for power plants and pellet mills.
For additional information, visit www.viaspace.com
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