Viridis Energy lands grant, new equipment to draw fuel suppliers

By Anna Simet | April 24, 2014

The Nova Scotia government has awarded Viridis Energy with a CA$517,500 ($469,000) grant to purchase new equipment at the company’s pellet manufacturing subsidiary, Scotia Atlantic Biomass Company Ltd., in Middle Musquoboit, Nova Scotia.

With the funds, Viridis plans to purchase a truck dumper with a 6,200-cubic-foot hopper and an Intalogix weigh scale designed to improve the unloading of fiber, increase the types of trucks and sources that can be utilized, and increase the amount of fiber delivered per truck load by up to 40 percent.

Virdis also plants to purchase a destoner to improve the quality of material through the process.

Michele Rebiere, chief financial officer of Viridis, said Viridis was very specific in selecting and describing the equipment to be purchased for the plant, as the company desires to convey a message to the market that it’s continuing to expand in Nova Scotia. “We want as much fiber and feedstock as we can get,” she said. “By purchasing that equipment, we are really trying to encourage more suppliers, even if they don’t have the right trucks and type of equipment to deliver. It really broadens our ability to attract fiber from just about anybody. The only bottleneck [in expanding] is ensuring that we get additional material.”

Viridis purchased the then-dormant plant in 2012, and restarted production in September 2013. Output from the plant, which has a maximum capacity of 120,000 metric tons, is purchased by Sweden-based Ekman & Co., which Viridis signed a contract with in 2013.

Per the agreement, Eckman distributes Viridis’s pellets throughout Europe for power generation, district  heating and residential heating. “Eckman purchases the pellets from us as we produce them,” Rebiere explained. “Every day, we truck pellets from the plant to the storage facilities at the Port of Halifax, and we bill Eckman for those. They accumulate inventory and make decisions as to which end customer the product will be sold to.”

Viridis’s first overseas shipment from the plant was made in early February, its final destination being a customer in Belgium. “They [Eckman] had accumulated sufficient inventory, and selected a customer that we signed off on,” Ribiere said. “This exact thing is happening with the next ship, going out in June or July. Eckman has already signed a contract with an end customer, but where it is going hasn’t yet been disclosed.  It’s a bit of a different arrangement, but it works really well for all parties.”

Rebiere added that the Port of Halifax is one of the closest ports to central Europe, and that shipments typically take five to seven days to arrive at destinations.