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USVI utilizing grass to create renewable energy

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The St. Croix Public Services Commission (PSC) has approved Tibbar Energy's facility design for a 6 MW anaerobic power plant as the source of continuously renewable green energy fuel. The generator uses Viaspace's proprietary Giant King Grass, with the goal of growing 1,500 acres of hybrid Giant King Grass and converting it to biofuel for generating electricity.

Credit: GlobeNewswire

The biomass project offers a sustainable outlet for the U.S. Virgin Islands' (USVI) green waste through composting, which can then be used as a fertilizer for agricultural operations.  The anaerobic digestion operation also offers a potential renewable outlet for the island's food waste.

Prior to the approval, Tibbar Energy representatives explained that Giant King Grass is a fast-growing, high yield grass that is neither genetically modified nor invasive. The grass does not compete with other crops, is similar to sugar cane, and uses high-nutrient fertilizer water which will not deplete the soil, they said.

Tibbar hopes to harvest 500 to 600 tons of Giant King Grass per day, running the grass through an anaerobic generator which can produce up to seven kilowatts per hour.

Biomass projects utilizing energy crops in anaerobic digestion to create renewable electricity have been used successfully in thousands European locations.

Tibbar has been working closely with the USVI Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Department of Labor, Waste Management Authority, Water and Power Authority, Department of Agriculture, Public Works Commission, Public Services Commission, Virgin Islands Energy Office, Farmers Cooperative, and St. Croix Environmental Association. A strategic alliance with Danish biogas company, Renew Energy, will allow Tibbar to capitalize on the company's vast experience in the design and operation of these systems across Europe.

Power could begin production by January of 2014.

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