Where Miscanthus and Money Mix

A proposed Canadian biomass power facility shows that finance veterans believe in energy crop production.
By Luke Geiver | July 20, 2012

A partnership between a Nova Scotia pulp, paper and power supplier and a Canadian-based energy crop developer could help a proposed biomass-based power plant in Hantsport, Nova Scotia come to fruition by 2014. The collaboration between Minas Basin Pulp and Power (the Nova Scotia part) and Pro Farm Energy Inc. (the energy crop developer part) could also help underutilized hay acres converted to miscanthus plots play a role in the future of electricity generation on the island. Or, if nothing else, the joint-venture might just show that energy crop production offers an attractive business case for those experienced in the project finance and banking sector.

Take a look at the Pro Farm Energy team. Mike Appleton, CEO and co-founder of the company, comes from the banking and power market industry, spending time at Bruce Power, GE Capital and TD Bank. Mark Thiessen, president and co-founder, recently sold an e-commerce company. Peter Korth, a member on the advisory board and president and founder of Lake Point Energy, a company specializing in the development and financing of cleantech businesses, has raised over $2 billion in renewable energy financing. Other members of the advisory board at Pro Farm Energy are equipped with skills that range from financial advising to IPO issuing.  

The company is leveraging the know-how of New Energy Farms Ltd., an Ontario-based energy crop developer with growing operations in Georgia and the UK. The plan is to lease underutilized farming acres, switching those acres to a strain of miscanthus that is well suited for colder climates and also offers an energy crop with lower ash content and lower than average potassium levels. Through a combination of available woody biomass and the miscanthus strain, the power facility in Hantsport will supply Nova Scotia Power Inc. with electricity. Through the intricate leasing program, Pro Farm Energy intends to combine their financial expertise and help from New Energy Farms, with future miscanthus growers (or existing farmers surrounding the mill) in what appears to be a clear case of financial foresight mixed with energy crop expertise.

For more information on the leasing structure, click here