Emunite to pelletize Viaspace Giant King Grass in Guyana

By Erin Voegele | April 30, 2014

On April 28, Viaspace Inc. announced a contract with Emunite Energy Solutions Inc. to provide Giant King Grass for a proposed pellet mill. The company also recently announced progress with Giant King Grass production in California for use in power generation.

St. Lucia, West Indies-based Emunite is developing a proposed 100,000 ton-per-year pellet mill. The company plans to grow Giant King Grass in Guyana to provide feedstock to the plant. According to information released by Viaspace, Giant King Grass was delivered to Guyana and planted in mid-April. Viaspace has received an initial payment and will receive an ongoing license fee upon production.

Glenrick White, CEO of Emunite, said his company plans to export its Giant King Grass pellets to the U.S. and Europe for use in power plant applications.

"I personally went to Guyana to oversee the planting. I was very impressed with the professionalism of theGuyana team,” said Carl Kukkonen, CEO of Viaspace. “The Giant King Grass, which originated from our nursery in California, was planted in savanna grassland that is adjacent to the rain forest. The Guyana team is confident that rainfall will be sufficient and that additional irrigation is not needed. The planting is only 140 miles from Georgetown, the capital, and is strategically placed, being very close to the Berbice River where timber is currently exported, and pellets can be easily transported to the river for export. The tropical climate of Guyana is ideal for growing Giant King Grass. Near the coast, they grow a lot of sugarcane. However, there are vast areas in the interior suitable for Giant King Grass where nothing of significant economic value is growing now. This represents a large business opportunity for Guyana and for Viaspace.”

Viaspace has also recently reported progress with a project in California. On April 22, the company announced Mesquite Lake Water and Power LLC has planted a 22-acre nursery of Giant King Grass in the Imperial Valley of southern California. According to Viaspace, more than 2,200 acres of the crop can be produced from the nursery as early as September.

In late March, Viaspace announced it had signed a contract with Mesquite Lake to provide Giant King Grass for an 18 MW biomass power plant and a companion advanced biofuels facility. The power plant purchased by Mesquite Lake was damaged in a 2010 earthquake, but will be repaired. Once operational, the company intends to fuel it with a combination of wood waste and Giant King Grass. The adjacent Mesquite Lake Cattle Manure Power Plant was originally designed to gasify cattle manure to produce 16 MW of power. Mesquite Lake plans to convert that facility to produce advanced biofuels from Giant King Grass. 

"We are moving quickly to establish the Giant King Grass as a viable energy crop to be grown in the Imperial Valley. Our goal is to be prepared with fuel on hand when the power plant reopens,” said  Rodney L. Williams, managing member of Mesquite Lake. “Viaspace is working closely with our team. Within two weeks of signing the contract, we had Giant King Grass planted in the Valley. We are experiencing plant germination and emergence daily. This is the initial step involved in the creation of developing large tracts of land in the Imperial Valley for commercial production."