IRVINE, Calif., Dec. 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- VIASPACE Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: VSPC), a clean energy company growing Giant King™ Grass as a low-carbon, renewable biomass dedicated energy crop, and its subsidiary VIASPACE Green Energy Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: VGREF), today announced that an invited presentation on Giant King Grass made by CEO Carl Kukkonen at the 11th International Conference on Clean Energy held in Taiwan November 2-5, 2011 is now available at the VIASPACE website www.VIASPACE.com. The presentation "Perennial Grass as a Dedicated Energy Crop" was co-authored by VIASPACE Green Energy President Sung Chang who also attended the conference. Kukkonen also made a presentation and participated in a panel discussion at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum on Green Growth. Both the conference and the forum were held at Feng Chia University in Taichung, Taiwan.
In addition, The Stock Radio conducted an audio interview with CEO Carl Kukkonen which can be heard at http://thestockradio.com/carl-kukkonen-ph-d-viaspace-inc-otcvspc/414.
The interview is summarized below.
1. In your recent press release entitled "Giant King™ Grass targeted as fuel for planned 90 mw biomass power plant in Thailand", you stated "This is a landmark agreement for VIASPACE", please tell us about this agreement and what it means to VIASPACE?
Our customer, Seema Energy, is planning to build the largest biomass power plant in Asia. It consists of three 30 MW power plants built in the center of a Giant King Grass plantation. This would be not only the largest biomass power plant, but it would be the first to use a dedicated energy crop as its fuel.
Other smaller biomass power plants have been built in Thailand, but they use agricultural waste such as rice straw or rice husks as the fuel. The disadvantages of using rice waste are that it is only available after the rice has been harvested and the price varies dramatically with season. There are no long-term contracts for agricultural waste which is only available on the spot market, and the price has been rising. Because of these problems, many of the biomass power plants in Thailand are operating at only partial capacity and are losing money. Banks are now insisting that any new biomass power plants must have a long-term fuel supply agreement in place before they will finance the project. Giant King Grass is a dedicated energy crop and solves this fuel supply problem.
The power plant in Thailand will grow its own Giant King Grass to use as its fuel. Seema initially looked at growing trees as fuel, but rejected that option because the trees took too long to grow and the yield per acre was too low. Giant King Grass has the highest yield of any plant in the world and it can be harvested twice a year with the first harvest 6 1/2 months after planting. Giant King Grass is a perennial crop. You cut it at 14 feet tall, and 4 to 6 months later it is 14 feet tall again and ready to cut.
Thailand has the perfect climate for growing Giant King Grass. The new government in Thailand is strongly supporting the agricultural sector and the Giant King Grass plantation is expected to provide more than 2000 jobs.
This project is very important to VIASPACE. It will be one of the first large scale commercial energy applications of Giant King Grass. This Thailand model for a power plant co-located with a Giant King Grass plantation can be replicated many times in Thailand and throughout the world.
2. The first step then is a test plot in Thailand, can you give us a time line on that and how confident are you of the results?
During my trip to Thailand, our VIASPACE agricultural expert and I evaluated several candidate sites for the test plot and we took soil samples. We planted a little Giant King Grass while we were there, and we expect that the five-acre test plot will be planted in January.
Based on the climate, soil and the potential for irrigation, we are 99% certain that the test plot will be successful. The objective of the test plot is to demonstrate the growth of Giant King Grass on their land in Thailand, and more importantly to determine optimum plant spacing, fertilizer and irrigation requirements for production. The test plot will also serve as a propagation nursery to provide seedlings for the large plantation needed for the power plant.
3. The plant will require 930,000 tonnes of Giant King Grass per year, if my sums are right that will require 9,000 hectares (22,500 acres). That's a lot of land, can you tell us your plans in this regard?
The customer is being very conservative and has more land than we believe will be needed. We expect that they will be able to provide all of the required Giant King Grass with 20% less land. This is still a very large farm, but it is only the size of a square 5 miles on each side. The power plant will provide clean electricity for 380,000 households in Thailand. The high yield of Giant King Grass enables a project of this size to be done on a piece of land that small, and because land costs are so expensive, the high yield is crucial in keeping the fuel and electricity costs down. VIASPACE will be working closely with our partner in Thailand to make sure that the plantation is in full operation before the power plant is completed.
4. When do you hope to be in full operation?
The power plant takes two years to build. We would begin establishing the Giant King Grass plantation immediately after the power plant contract is signed.
5. You mentioned earlier that the Thailand government is strongly supporting agriculture, you anticipate creating 2,000 jobs. Do you expect to gain financial support from the government in Thailand?
Thailand had ambitious plans for nuclear electricity that were scrapped after the Japanese nuclear disaster. The government is working hard to find alternatives to provide the needed electricity. Coal-fired power plants are very unpopular with the local people, so the options are limited. Natural gas is being aggressively pursued. Biomass electricity is very attractive because Thailand is a large agricultural country and biomass electricity is much cheaper than solar. In addition biomass provides jobs for farmers who represent a large base of support for the new government.
We don't expect to receive direct support for the project from the Thai government. However we do expect that the government will increase the price they will pay for biomass electricity supplied to the national grid, and this will make the Seema project profitable and financeable.
6. Last week I read over your quarterly financial report, can summarize it for us?
So far 2011 is a very good year. Our revenues through the first three quarters are over $5 million--which is 114% higher than for the same period in 2010. The revenues come from our profitable framed art division. We manufacture high-quality custom framed art and sell it to retailers in the US. Business for these retailers has picked up considerably and our results reflect this.
VIASPACE re-invests these profits to expand and develop our Giant King Grass bioenergy business which we expect will be the source of large growth in the future. The framed art business has allowed VIASPACE to survive the economic downturn without having to raise capital through a stock offering which would have diluted our existing shareholders. This source of income is a major strategic advantage for VIASPACE, well-positioned to exploit the developing markets for biomass electricity and biofuels.
7. Once again, thank you for giving our listeners an update; we look forward to hearing from you as your plans progress.
Thank you for having me on and I encourage your listeners to visit our website at www.VIASPACE.com for more information including a recent presentation I made at the Clean Energy Conference in Taiwan.
About VIASPACE Inc.
VIASPACE is a clean energy company providing products and technology for renewable and alternative energy that reduce or eliminate dependence on fossil and high-pollutant energy sources. Through its majority-owned subsidiary VIASPACE Green Energy Inc., the Company grows Giant King Grass as a low-carbon fuel for electricity generating power plants, as a feedstock for bio methane production and cellulosic biofuels, and for other low-carbon, renewable energy products. For more information, please go to www.VIASPACE.com or contact Dr. Jan Vandersande, Director of Communications, at 800-517-8050 or mailto:IR@VIASPACE.com
Safe Harbor Statement
Information in this news release includes forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements relate to future events or future performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Such factors include, without limitation, risks outlined in our periodic filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2010, as well as general economic and business conditions; the ability to acquire and develop specific products and technologies; changes in consumer and business demand for the Company's products; competition from larger companies; changes in demand for alternative and clean energy; risks associated with international transactions; risks related to technological change; and other factors over which VIASPACE has little or no control.
SOURCE VIASPACE Inc.