WALNUT, Calif., March 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- VIASPACE Inc. (OTCQB: VSPC) today announced that Board Chairman, Dr. Kevin Schewe, interviewed with Charles Sample of CEONEWS.Tv on Friday, March 1, 2013, regarding VIASPACE corporate dynamics and recent corporate milestones to further the commercialization of VIASPACE's proprietary Giant King Grass bioenergy platform. The following is a transcript of the interview which was released by CEONEWS.Tv today, March 5, 2013. The interview can be listened to at http://www.ceonews.tv.
Question 1: Kevin, please tell us about your company and who the principals are...
Answer: From its founding in 1998, Dr. Carl Kukkonen has led the VIASPACE team, serving as CEO of ViaSpace Technologies, LLC, the predecessor of VIASPACE, Incorporated, and serving as CEO today. Since 2008, Carl has been laying the foundation of where our proprietary Giant King Grass (GKG) fits into the emerging world of renewable biomass/bioenergy products. Laying this foundation has required research and development, rigorous and repeated testing of Giant King Grass by many reputable, independent laboratories and testing facilities, numerous speaking engagements at national and international conferences and finally, the commercialization of Giant King Grass in the real world to create a profitable business model. VIASPACE has made Giant King Grass well-known to the global renewable's industries. Since the Spring of 2012, we have seen a definite surge in the global interest in our product, Giant King Grass, and customers now recognize our expertise to use Giant King Grass as the highest yielding biomass crop in the world. Bioelectricity, biogas production, biofuels, biochemical, bioplastics and biomaterials all need biomass as a feedstock and GKG is suitable for all these applications. VIASPACE provides GKG seedlings and technical expertise to qualified bioenergy projects that need a low-cost and reliable fuel or feedstock. VIASPACE will also serve as a project developer or co-developer for GKG-fueled power plants or pellet mill projects, together with local partners that have land and requirements for electricity, heat, pellets, biogas or biofuels. VIASPACE and its partners have the capability to deliver integrated GKG plantation and biomass power plant projects in 24 months. VIASPACE has financial models to support power plant and pellet mill projects.
I joined the VIASPACE Board of Directors in January of 2012 as the second largest investor in the company at that time. I am actually a Board Certified radiation oncologist in private practice and work as a cancer specialist and operate two cancer centers in Colorado in partnership with HealthONE, the Colorado Division of Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) which is the largest private operator of healthcare facilities in the world and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. I am also an entrepreneur and have developed a premium line of skin care and cosmetic products that help to heal, protect, repair and subsequently maintain not only the damaged skin of cancer patients, but also individuals who have experienced skin damage resulting from aging, dryness, UV exposure, other illnesses and environmental pollution. The products are manufactured by my company, Elite Therapeutics and our story can be seen on our website at www.elitetherapeutics.com. I became personally interested in VIASPACE and invested heavily in the company when it became focused in the green energy business sector. I was instrumental in helping VIASPACE split from a previous partner and become a free-standing bioenergy company on 10-01-12 and that is when I became Chairman of the Board of Directors. Carl is focused on expanding the world's successful use of GKG as the leading bioenergy platform and I am focused on the business success of our company and growing shareholder value.
Question 2: What exactly is biomass?
Answer: Biomass is a fancy word for plant material. Biomass is low-carbon fuel or energy source that comes from plant material such as wood, sugar cane and grasses such as Giant King Grass. Biomass can be burned to generate electricity and heat, digested to produce bio-methane, and can also be converted into biofuels, biochemical and bioplastics. Biomass also includes byproducts such as agricultural waste, including corn straw (stover) and rice husks, and food waste, such as vegetable oil recycled from cooking processes. Since biomass comes primarily from plants and vegetation that naturally regrows and may come from everyday agricultural or industrial processes, biomass is a renewable resource.
Question 3: Why is biomass so important as a basis for energy production as opposed to fossil fuels or other sources of energy?
Answer: In contrast to fossil fuels, biomass from plants and vegetation is considered low-carbon or carbon-neutral. During their growing cycle, plants use photosynthesis to absorb and convert sunlight and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into nutrients and energy. When these plants are burned, for example in a power plant, carbon dioxide is released back into the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide is again absorbed during the next crop's growth cycle. This repetitive cycle of absorption-release-absorption results in a carbon-neutral effect on the atmosphere. Since planting, harvesting and transportation equipment use petroleum-based fuel, and many fertilizers are also petroleum based, some carbon emissions occur with biomass. However, when grass crops are grown using sustainable methods, the amounts of carbon emissions are small, especially compared to the energy that will be produced by burning the biomass, and the result is very low carbon emissions, compared to burning coal or other fossil fuels.
Biomass is available in many areas throughout the world and can be cultivated or produced domestically, locally or regionally, with little or no logistical risk. In contrast, reserves of oil and natural gas are located in limited areas throughout the world and are a depleting resource. Of the leading energy alternatives to fossil fuels, biomass is the most cost-effective and practical, and therefore offers the most realistic and sustainable strategy. For example, solar and wind offer important advantage of zero fuel cost, but they have higher capital costs and much lower utilization rates because solar only produces electricity when it is sunny and wind when it is windy. The combination of high capital costs and low utilization leads to high electricity prices. Because of their transient nature and variability of weather conditions, solar and wind energy cannot be used as base power and are largely utilized in sophisticated grids where there are backup natural gas or coal powered plants that can take up load on cloudy or windless days. Biomass power plants can operate 24 hours a day and can be used as base power.
Biomass electricity is cost-effective and practical, and it offers a realistic and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. Biomass is versatile and can be used to produce bio-methane to replace natural gas, liquid biofuels to replace gasoline and diesel fuel, and as a feedstock to produce biochemicals and bioplastics.
Question 4: The speed at which Giant King Grass matures as regrowth is astounding. What is the basis for this amazing increase in productivity in the second and succeeding years?
Answer: We at VIASPACE call Giant King Grass "the new biomass for green energy". Giant King Grass is a very fast growing, high yield, hybrid grass that is neither genetically modified nor invasive. It grows in a variety of soil conditions and does not compete with food crops. Giant King Grass is perennial and it is a short rotation crop that can be harvested in the first year, compared to other crops that have much lower yields and cannot be harvested until their second, third or fourth year of growth. Regrowth is significantly faster than the initial harvest because the plant establishes an excellent root system. Once GKG has been established, it can be harvested at 3-5 feet tall for biogas production every 45 to 60 days. For other applications such as power plant fuel, pellets or biofuels, it is harvested at 13-16 feet tall every 150-180 days. This high rate of growth of GKG can provide a continual supply of biomass year-round. With competitive energy characteristics combined with multiple harvests per year, the energy output or energy yield of GKG per acre per year is much higher than other grasses. As a result, GKG cultivation offers material productivity benefits and therefore lower cost biomass for energy production, biofuels and biomaterials.
Question 5: It is our understanding that one of the major uses of biomass is to help co-fire coal plants and reduce their carbon emission footprint. How does that work and why is that useful?
Answer: Burning coal and biomass together is called co-firing and requires only a small modification to coal burning power plants. Coal fired power plants represent huge capital investments and this concept preserves and extends those capital investments for many years to come. Giant King Grass can be pelletized and those pellets can be co-fired with coal to reduce the net carbon dioxide emissions or carbon footprint of coal-fired electricity production. This helps meet carbon reduction targets and can replace up to 20% of coal in existing coal-fired power plants. We grow the GKG, it's harvested, dried, pressed into pellets and shipped in bulk like shipping grain. In other words, GKG becomes a bio-commodity like shipping coal or fuel, only it's continuously renewable green energy! There are 16 million tons of pellets used globally today and estimates are that increases to 46 million tons by 2020. There is a growing global demand for pellets, particularly in Europe, Korea, China and Japan is also emerging.
Question 6: Do you believe that VIASPACE is poised to become a major player in the emerging green energy sector and why will that happen?
Answer: The answer is a resounding YES because our proprietary product, Giant King Grass, is not just any plant or species of grass; it is the highest yielding dedicated energy crop in the world. We call it a continuously renewable, bioenergy platform. As a dedicated biomass, bioenergy platform, it can take you in a multitude of directions depending on your industrial purpose for green energy. When developed and grown and used to its full potential--it is a global, green energy game changer--an enabling technology for bioelectricity that is nearly as competitive as coal in price (which is the least expensive fossil fuel when locally available), but is overall carbon neutral. More importantly, it can be used as I said for a biomass platform for numerous applications such as:
1) Direct combustion in electric power generation/heat/steam
2) Pellets for co-firing with coal
3) Biogas/anaerobic digestion to create electricity with fertilizer as a byproduct
4) Cellulosic liquid biofuels--ethanol/butanol
5) Biochemical and bioplastics
6) Pyrolysis to bio oil
7) Catalytic conversion to biodiesel
8) Torrefaction to biocoal
9) Pulp for paper and textiles
Some of these applications are commercially used today with agricultural and forestry waste and Giant King Grass can be used instead as a continuous, high-yielding feedstock. Giant King Grass will allow future commercialization of some of these applications because its high yield and low cost will make these processes reliable and profitable. We at VIASPACE know the science and practical application of our product, Giant King Grass, inside and out and we can work with our customers and partners to rapidly succeed in using this renewable, biomass platform approach to green energy production. VIASPACE works on integrated plantation and bioenergy, pellet or biorefinery projects and we are seeking qualified project opportunities. We will work with partners, project developers or act as a project developer.
Question 7: On January 14, you announced that Giant King Grass is growing in Hawaii. Tell us about your plans there.
Answer: One of our biggest announcements in 2012 was that Giant King Grass had been approved by the US Department of Agriculture and had been released from quarantine by the US Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for distribution in the United States. Hawaii, however, has additional plant import rules, and Giant King Grass is being grown in a facility under the purview of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. Our CEO, Dr. Kukkonen, personally supervised the planting in Hawaii and met with Hawaiian Department of Agriculture officials as well as with potential Giant King Grass customers in Hawaii. It takes 12 months for the Hawaii Department of Agriculture's review and analysis of Giant King Grass to be completed and that clock started ticking for VIASPACE and its shareholders in December of 2012. Hawaii has the highest electricity rates in the United States ranging from $0.30--$0.40 per kilowatt hour (two to three times the cost of electricity on the US mainland) depending on the cost of oil. Using Giant King Grass as the biomass platform, VIASPACE and its partners in Hawaii can generate bioelectricity substantially cheaper than oil generated electricity and greatly reduce carbon emissions in the process. We know for certain that GKG will grow perfectly well and thrive in the Hawaiian climate and there are large tracts of land previously used for sugar cane and pineapple. We believe that co-locating biomass electric plants on Hawaii with Giant King Grass plantations could also serve as a green energy tourist attraction and increase the global visibility and profile of green, clean energy production. The VIASPACE clock is ticking in Hawaii and we are looking forward to playing a role in Hawaii's green energy future.
Question 8: On January 28, you announced that you are growing Giant King Grass in South Africa. Can you tell us about the significance of that project?
Answer: We are partnering with Selectra of Johannesburg, South Africa, and Selectra is a leading developer of sustainable bioenergy projects in Africa. Selectra approached VIASPACE, seeking out Giant King Grass as a dedicated energy crop and they are considering using Giant King Grass for both biogas and direct combustion power plants. Our relationship with Selectra in South Africa is exciting for many reasons. One proof of concept was the actual exporting of Giant King Grass seedlings from our California nursery to South Africa. Selectra obtained an import permit from the South African government and that permit required stringent inspection and treatment prior to overseas shipment. U.S. agriculture officials inspected the VIASPACE nursery in California and witnessed the treatment or our GKG seedlings required by South Africa and then issued a phytosanitary certificate. Our CEO, Dr. Kukkonen traveled with the seedlings and supervised the first planting in South Africa. We are gaining valuable experience at shipping GKG seedlings from our California propagation nursery to anywhere on the globe while meeting strict import and export criteria specific to the global destination.
As you know, gold mining is a multibillion dollar business in South Africa and there are large tracts of land affected by mining there. For example, gold mining produces large amounts of ore from which gold has been extracted. There are thousands of acres of mine tailings that have been left behind after the gold has been extracted. These mine tailings need to be reclaimed as useful land. Selectra has grown beets and sorghum on mine tailings, but these are annual crops that have to be replanted every year. Giant King Grass is a perennial crop that does not require replanting every year and is a candidate crop to remediate mine tailings through the process of phytoremediation which removes heavy metals from the soil and returns organic matter into the mine tailings to make the soil useful again. Giant King Grass is fast growing and has a great supporting root system. If successful in this important test, Giant King Grass will have found an amazing dual purpose of remediating mine-affected land while simultaneously providing the world's highest yielding biomass platform for green electricity production. The climate in South Africa is good and we are also growing GKG on mine affected land adjacent to mine tailings--we are confident that GKG will grow well in that setting. Lastly, having our product growing in South Africa has opened the "VIASPACE door" on the African Continent and we are now in talks in other African nations about projects using Giant King Grass as a dedicated energy crop.
Question 9: On February 20, you announced that VIASPACE has a contract with Agricorp and is growing Giant King Grass in Nicaragua. What is different about this relationship and why should investors take notice?
Answer: VIASPACE has been working on its business relationship with Agricorp under a confidentiality agreement since July of 2011. Agricorp is a subsidiary of Grain Hill which is a diversified agro-industrial business group with revenues of $300 million per year with operations in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and El Salvador. For example, Grain Hill/Agricorp is the largest rice company in Nicaragua with 65% of the market share there. Agricorp is the "real deal" with regards to their financial strength, their regional outreach, their motivation to generate their own bioelectricity and their demonstrated agricultural expertise. Giant King Grass seedlings were shipped from our California nursery and planted on part of a 10,000 acre Agricorp farm near Lake Nicaragua. An Agricorp rice mill is co-located on that farm which would also be the site of a co-located biomass electric power plant. Giant King Grass will be the primary fuel for the power plant and supplemented by rice husks as the rice is routinely harvested. In parallel with the Giant King Grass biomass plantation, VIASPACE and Agricorp will also partner together in the power plant development. This is the perfect business relationship that we have been seeking in that we are not only providing the high-yielding biomass fuel but we are also sharing in the power plant development and its continuous revenue stream. The Agricorp team understands agriculture and we are excited to grow Giant King Grass with them because we believe that they will rapidly discover and experience the economic benefits of GKG as world's highest yielding biomass platform and the revenues that can be generated. Investors should recognize that we have a financially strong and able partner in Agricorp and our relationship with them has been revealed at a time when we are both ready to move forward with our plans to establish a premier Central America biomass power plant and then continue to grow our business with them from there.
Question 10: Kevin, I realize that you do not have a crystal ball to predict the future; however, could you tell us where management would like to see VIASPACE's share price at this time next year? Please give our listeners a compelling reason why they should make VSPC a part of their investment portfolio.
Answer: As Chairman of the Board of the company, I think it would be unwise to make a specific share price prediction. But I would strongly encourage the investment community to consider and review the sheer pace of VIASPACE's progress since becoming a free-standing company on October 1, 2012 with the worldwide license to market Giant King Grass outside of China and Taiwan. Since October 1, 2012, we have announced that we are growing Giant King Grass in Southern California, St. Croix USVI, South Africa, Hawaii, Nicaragua, and Myanmar. We are in confidential talks with other new clients here in the Southern United States, Africa, India, the Philippines, the Middle East and South America. We are the known experts in using our proprietary product, GKG, as the highest yielding biomass platform in the world. We have the know how and ability to ship our Giant King Grass seedlings from our California nursery to any destination in the world. The established high yield of GKG is crucial to make biomass electricity competitive and affordable. Banks and investors will not finance biomass power plants without a long-term fuel supply contract. Giant King Grass provides a reliable, well-documented, consistent quality fuel supply or feedstock with a predictable, affordable price. Our customers actually save money by paying VIASPACE a license fee for high-yielding GKG as opposed to using a lower yielding naturally occurring biomass source. We are moving fast to make deals happen across the globe and are totally focused on the various commercial applications of Giant King Grass as the world's premier platform dedicated energy crop for bioelectricity, biomass pellets, biofuels, biochemicals and bioplastics.
I became Chairman of the Board of VIASPACE after purchasing 100,000,000 VSPC common shares on the open market and since that time have provided additional financial support to the company in the form of convertible loans. I have immediately converted those loans to an additional 36,000,000 VSPC common shares, and by converting to these shares have purposely kept additional debt off our balance sheet. Our total share count is about 1.4 billion and VIASPACE insiders (me included) hold nearly half those shares. I am the Chairman of the company and the greatest advocate of the common shareholders because I view myself as a common shareholder. I have previously gone on record to reassure our shareholders that I would not ever support a reverse split unless we are growing so fast that we need a reverse split to take the financial advantages of moving to a higher exchange. Where else can you buy a stock at our current price of $0.015 per share to own a company that has a transformational green energy platform product that is being so rapidly rolled out and implemented on literally a global basis? Once we start generating continuous organic revenues from our harvest-by-harvest Giant King Grass license fees and by selling electricity through our power plant partnerships, the opportunity to purchase our stock at these prices will be a distant memory.
Dr. Schewe commented, "The interview with CEONEWS.Tv represented another great opportunity to get the compelling business story of VIASPACE out to a wider audience of new investors. We want the investment community to recognize that we see ourselves, not as a penny stock issue, but as a multinational company that represents the future of dedicated, renewable, green bioenergy. We are just now scratching the surface of our huge potential and we are continuously working with new clients who are catching our vision that high-yielding Giant King Grass represents a paradigm shift in the economics of industrial green energy. I invite serious green energy investors to consider taking a position in VIASPACE to actively follow and participate in our growth and future."
About VIASPACE Inc.
VIASPACE grows renewable Giant KingTM Grass as 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, dedicated biomass clean energy crop that does not compete with or displace food production. For more information, please go to www.VIASPACE.com or contact Dr. Jan Vandersande, Director of Communications, at 800-517-8050 or IR@VIASPACE.com.
Safe Harbor Statement
Information in this news release includes forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements relate to future events or future performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Such factors include, without limitation, risks outlined in our periodic filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2011, and other factors over which VIASPACE has little or no control.
SOURCE VIASPACE Inc.