Talk about renewable energy has never carried with it more urgency than it does today. But much of it focuses solar and wind, not noticing that, in terms of efficiency and cost effectiveness, a growing number of people see biomass as the single most promising approach to renewable energy, both short and long term. Biomass provides down to a zero carbon footprint, depending upon how much of it is used, together with 24/7 sourcing and reliability, without requiring the development of complex new technologies or infrastructure. Best of all, if done right, biomass offers the most cost-effective renewable energy solution.

There is, however, a key to successful biomass. Today, biomass power plants are fed primarily by agricultural and forestry waste, including corn stover, wheat straw, rice husks, and wood waste. But huge logistics and cost factors have greatly reduced the appeal of using waste as a viable energy source. Agricultural waste is seasonal, available only at a given source crop’s harvest. In addition, it must be gathered and transported from many wide-spread locations, increasing costs and adding to emissions from transportation. Market prices are unpredictable, as shown by recent dramatic increases in places like China and India, making it difficult to give reliable operation projections or to get financing. This is aggravated by the inevitable and controversial interplay of such waste sources with food production.

The solution is to have a dedicated energy crop, relatively free from the disruptive influences of outside forces, but not just any crop. Giant King Grass (GKG), a proprietary hybrid grass from ViaSpace, Inc., is safe and non-invasive, and is also one of the most efficient sources of captured solar energy on the planet. It can grow up to 13 feet high in just a few months, when it can be harvested and immediately grown again without re-seeding. As a result, it can reduce biofuel feedstock costs by up to 40%, making it the renewable energy resource that is truly competitive with coal. Supplies and costs are predictable, allowing financing, and power plants can run 24/7 without worrying about source fuels. Remember that only such a reliable source of alternative power can effectively reduce the need for standby coal power plants.

Since GKG absorbs as much carbon during growth as it releases during burning, it is effectively carbon neutral. In fact, although 100% biomass use requires different boilers, existing coal burning power plants can be readily modified to use up to 20% biomass, reducing their carbon footprint. Such projects are already under way by ViaSpace. The longer term goal is to incorporate many smaller 10-30 megawatt 100% biomass power plants with GKG plantations, effectively eliminating the need for fuel transportation, and adding to GKG’s already significant cost benefit.

For additional information, visit the company’s website at, or the company’s Giant King Grass products site at

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