Viaspace advances projects in California and St. Croix

By Erin Voegele | April 03, 2014

Viaspace Inc. has recently announced progress with its projects in California and St. Croix. The California project involves the use of Giant King Grass as feedstock for advanced biofuels and biomass power, while the St. Croix project will convert the feedstock into biogas for energy production.

In late March, Viaspace announced it has signed a contract with Mesquite Lake Water and Power LLC provide Giant King Grass for a biomass power plant and companion advanced biofuels facility in Imperial, Calif. The company is a participating party in the Mesquite Lake Energy Park LLC.

Rodney Williams, managing member of Mesquite Lake, explained that his company has purchased an 18-MW biomass power plant in Imperial. The facility was damaged in a 2010 earthquake, but will be repaired. According to Williams, his company plans to fuel the facility with a combination of wood waste and Giant King Grass. “The power plant is connected to the grid and was fully permitted and operational in 2010,” he said in a statement.

The second component of the project involves the adjacent Mesquite Lake Cattle Manure Power Plant, which was designed to gasify cattle manure and produce 16 MW of electricity, Williams said. “We plan to convert this facility…to produce advanced biofuels using the dedicated energy crop Giant King Grass as the feedstock. Between the two plants, there is plenty of land for our energy park. We are connected to the grid and there is an adjacent natural gas pipeline. We are experienced in agriculture and have access to land to grow Giant King Grass. The Imperial Valley has ideal weather for Giant King Grass and there is plenty of water for irrigation. I am excited to see the development of this new dedicated energy crop in the Imperial Valley."

"We are happy to be working with Mr. Williams and his team.  This project is basically in our own backyard.  We are already growing Giant King Grass in Southern California and we believe it will grow even better in the Imperial Valley which has more heat and a longer growing season. Giant King Grass is a C4 plant which means that it thrives in hot weather as long as it has water available. We expect to be growing in Imperial Valley very shortly,” said Carl Kukkonen, CEO of Viaspace.

Viaspace also recently announced that the St. Croix government has approved Tibbar Energy’s permit to build a 7-MW biogas power plant. The final approval came from the Virgin Island Department on Planning and Natural Resources’ Division of Coastal Zone Management. The CMZ decision was the last step that Tibbar Energy need in order to begin construction of the facility.

According to information released by Viaspace, Tibbar’s general contractor is expected to begin site work in May or June. The expected schedule is 18 months for both the farming operations and the biogas plant.

"Tibbar is thrilled about building its renewable energy plant on St. Croix. We will provide 7 megawatts of base load power for WAPA for the next 25 years from Giant King Grass grown on the island. Tibbar is required to begin producing power by December 2015 pursuant to the power purchase agreement. WAPA has no other base load renewable power source and Tibbar's project will allow WAPA to be compliant under the Renewable Portfolio Standard,” said Tania Tomyn, CEO of Tibbar Energy.