Global Green: Biomass project steams ahead

By Kris Bevill
Web exclusive posted Oct. 24, 2008 at 9:53 a.m. CST

Global Green Solutions Inc. which was formed two years ago for the purpose of bringing forward renewable energy technologies quickly narrowed its focus to two projects. One project, called Vertigro, was an algae-to-oil technology that would use vertical bioreactors to produce mass amounts of algae for the production of biodiesel. The other project, Greensteam, is a biomass combustion system that could be used by any industry currently using fossil fuels. It appears that, at least at this time, steam is more powerful than algae.

Global Green announced in early October that it would sell its 50 percent stake in Vertigro to its partner, Valcent Products Inc., in exchange for $5 million in cash, 5 million shares in Valcent and the rights to use the algae technology in the future. The decision was made after a business analysis determined that substantial financial investment was needed for additional research and development before the algae technology could be commercialized. "Market economic conditions dictate that we cannot afford to continue to develop and commercialize both technologies," a company statement said. "Therefore, we are restructuring [the company] to focus entirely on the Greensteam business."

Revenue generated from the sale of its biodiesel project will be used to meet immediate funding requirements for the Greensteam business.

According to Global Green, several factors led to the decision: there are growing opportunities for the Greensteam system, two major companies have signed contracts and the technology is at commercial-stage.

"Greensteam is at the forefront of waste biomass-to-energy systems for industrial applications," said Global Green President and Chief Executive Officer Doug Frater. "We can displace fossil fuel and produce steam more efficiently and economically, with lower emissions, than other available technologies. This has led us to determine that we need to aggressively capitalize on Greensteam's competitive advantages."

The system uses primarily waste wood to generate steam, reducing industrial energy costs by up to 30 percent compared to fossil-fuel derived steam, according to Global Green. In May, the company signed a long-term steam supply contract with California oil and gas producer Aera Energy LLC. A pilot project is underway and will be followed by the installation of the first Greensteam units. The company hopes to install at least 10 Greensteam units at Aera facilities. Global Green also has a pending 10-year steam supply contract with Sappi Ltd., a global pulp and paper company.