Giant king grass growing as green fuel on island

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Giant king grass is now growing in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. An initial small shipment of giant king grass was received and planted by Tibbar Energy USVI LLC, which is developing a six megawatt biomass energy project that will be fueled by a 1,000-acre giant king grass plantation. The giant king grass was sent by the Viaspace company from its California growing site.

On Sunday, November 12, 2012, Tibbar Energy placed a full-page advertisement in the St. Croix Avis, which is the main newspaper on the island as part of its public education campaign. The headline in the ad reads "Tibbar Energy USVI Introduces Giant King Grass to St. Croix."

The text of the ad attempts to explain how giant king grass helps St. Croix. Tibbar Energy project will use the grass as a feedstock for anaerobic digestion, generating biogas which will be used to produce electricity. No grass is burned in this process. Anaerobic digestion is a biological process.

The newspaper advertisement as reported by Viaspace listed a wide number of benefits beyond energy production. Additional benefits include:

  • “The branding of St. Croix as a renewable energy producer
  • Helping to meet the Virgin Islands renewable energy goal of 22 percent by 2025
  • Provides organic fertilizer for local farmers, agricultural scholarships and new agricultural activity
  • Developing co-operative growing agreements with local famers
  • Creates high quality permanent jobs
  • Converts 800 acres of underutilized land to agricultural use
  • Invests millions of dollars into the island."

It is noted that the Tibbar project was initiated several years ago and is slated to be underway in 2013, fully on-line by the first quarter 2014, generating more than 20 full time jobs with a total projected economic benefit of $150 million (over the life of the project) to the community through its agricultural and power generation components. It is an exclusive partnership between Tibbar and Viaspace to grow giant king grass on St. Croix.

Viaspace Chairman Kevin Schewe, Ph.D., commented, "The Viaspace project with Tibbar Energy on St. Croix is now moving forward with all due speed as evidenced by (its) public relations campaign to educate the people of St. Croix regarding the multiple, significant benefits of continuously renewable, green bioenergy using giant king Ggrass to produce local electricity. Our partnership with Tibbar Energy on St. Croix will be a model green energy project that can be readily duplicated elsewhere.

Viaspace is attempting to contract grow or assist in growing renewable giant king grass, which the company trademarks. It is a low-carbon fuel for clean electricity generation; for environmentally friendly energy pellets; and as a feedstock for bio-methane production and for green cellulosic biofuels, biochemicals and biomaterials. Giant king grass is a proprietary, high yield to be grown on land that does not compete with or displace food production, according to the company.

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