Ramble On

Monday, February 1, 2010

Fibrowatt - an Overview

This is the first of several posts that will go up this week about Fibrowatt, the company that proposes to build a plant that will turn chicken litter into electricity, at Page County’s Project Clover site. You’d expect that there would be challenges from both sides (the community and the company) in negotiating a site, constructing, and operating a plant like this – and that’s exactly the reason why the Hawksbill Cabin blog is looking into this topic.

On the face of it, the estimated impacts – 300 construction jobs and 100 plant jobs after the plant is up and running – all sound like great investments for Page County. But this is an industrial process and it won’t be without its impacts, so on the blog we’ll also take a closer look at the technology that is used, the history of community relations, and some of the controversies that are related to this technology.

The Basics

The company, Fibrowatt LLC, is owned by a New Hampshire-based holding company called Homeland Renewable Energy. Homeland Renewable Energy (HRE) was founded in 2000 by a management team that built and later sold three litter conversion electricity plants in the UK in the 1990’s. Their selling point on the idea: responding to the poultry industry’s need for a litter disposal alternative, by using it to generate renewable energy. HRE claims to be the only firm in the world with experience developing these types of plants.

The entrepreneurs behind the UK plants were Simon and Rupert Fraser, a father and son team. After developing the plants, they sold them in 2003 and started HRE, and subsequently Fibrowatt to market the technology in the US.

The Board


HRE has a five-member board. I’ll profile Rupert Fraser, one of the developers of the UK plants, and John Clarke, Chairman. The other board members are Robert Keller, Richard Constant, and Derek Hasbrouck.

Clarke, as noted, is the Chairman of the Board and the cofounder of HRE with Fraser. He is an investment banker, founding Baldwin & Clarke, which completed $2-billion in M&A and capital raises since 1984. He has other interests, including a small cap community banking enterprise with Keller.

Fraser is listed as President and CEO, cofounding HRE in 2003 when Fibrowatt was acquired from its UK parent. His background includes work as a chartered accountant with KPMG, investment banking, and past leadership in renewable energy trade groups.

Fibrowatt’s US Projects

Just as with the summaries above, we’ve drawn from the HRE and Fibrowatt web pages (linked below) for background on other Fibrowatt projects. In addition to the Page County project that NVDaily posted last week that started us on this research, there are plans for projects in Arkansas, Georgia, Maryland, and Mississippi. There is an established 55-Megawatt (MW) plant in Benson, Minnesota (easily found with a Google search for “Fibrominn,” the operating company name). And there are plans for three plants in North Carolina, in Montgomery, Surry, and Sampson counties.

During the next posts on this topic, the blog will focus on the Minnesota project, which is active, and the North Carolina projects, which are in development. We close with URLs for HRE and Fibrowatt:

http://www.homelandrenewableenergy.com/
http://www.fibrowattusa.com/

2 comments:

terry.walmsley said...

Jim,

Thanks for looking into the details of Fibrowatt and what such a plant could mean for the Shenandoah Valley. If you would like to directly contact us, we would appreciate the opportunity to further discuss our approach to renewable energy and poultry manure management.

As you will no doubt notice as you research our company, we are committed to our outreach efforts with each community we are invited to consider. In addition to your review of our website, you may wish to also investigate the community information committee's that have been set up to provide a means for the local community to ask questions and learn more about our projects.

The Benson Minnesota Citizen's Advisory Panel site is located at: fibrominncap.org

The Sampson County Public Information Committee can be found at: picsc.org

In addition to this information, please feel free to contact me at: (267) 352-0014 x102

Terry Walmsley
VP of Environmental & Public Affairs

Jim said...

Terry,

Appreciate the comment, and thanks for your time yesterday.

While I am trying to learn all I can about Fibrowatt and the other plants, we'll respect the process the company is going through to evaluate Page County as a potential location - a prospective deal.

Also recognizing that the citizens of the county are stakeholders, so where I can, I'll research answers for them. As far as county leadership goes, I'll be glad to do what I can for them too.


I'd like to keep the blog as a forum, focused on understanding the potential venture, but also respecting views and opinions where they are given.

Thanks again for the time yesterday and best regards,

"Cabin Jim"