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VIASPACE In the News


Viaspace holds a worldwide license to grow and cultivate the perennial fast-growing plant, which can be harvested four times a year. More than 1 million Giant King Grass seedlings were planted in the Guangdong Province of China in October 2008. According to the company, the seedlings are now 2 meter-tall plants. Instead of seeds, Giant King Grass is propagated by seedlings that grow into a plant that can generate between five to 10 new seedlings. Therefore, the original 1.2 million plants will be propagated into 6 million to 12 million new seedlings that will be planted on 100 acres. Viaspace plans to conduct another propagation later this year. It is also negotiating to lease more land and expects to have 300 acres growing by September, with additional acreage and plantings under consideration in China and other countries.

Giant King Grass is a cellulose-based product and a nonfood source that can be supplied to the biofuels market to avoid the use of food-related products, such as corn, for producing low-carbon biofuels, said Viaspace Chief Executive Carl Kukkonen. "We see this renewable energy segment of our business as an opportunity to participate in the expected growth of cellulosic biofuels as an environmentally friendly, nonpetroleum source of energy," he added.

China produced 750,000 tons of ethanol last year and is scheduled to boost output to 5 million tons by 2010, according to China's Ministry of Agriculture. According to Viaspace, China's Ministry of Finance has said it will not approve new biofuels projects using food grains, in an effort to protect grain security. However, the central government will offer financial support to develop biofuels from agricultural waste and nongrain farm produce.

On March 31, Viaspace filed a 10-K Form for the year ending Dec. 31, 2008, with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company reported a net loss for 2008 of $9.8 million, or $0.02 per share, compared with a net loss of $8.9 million, or $0.03 per share, in 2007. It also reported $1.07 million in revenues for the fourth quarter of 2007, which included $866,000 related to the acquisition of Inter-Pacific Arts Inc., a company that had a worldwide license to grow and sell the ultra-fast-growing hybrid grass in addition to its already profitable consumer products business.

Revenue for the 2008 fiscal year was $1.42 million, including $866,000 from the IPA acquisition, compared with $253,000 for 2007. Gross profit for 2008 was $812,000, including $617,000 from the IPA acquisition, compared with $96,000 for 2007.

"From a strategic, longer-term standpoint, and as we anticipated, the IPA acquisition is generating cash that is being invested in expanding our capability to supply renewable, low-carbon energy sources in the form of fast-growing cellulosic grass that don't interfere or compete with food-related agriculture," Kukkonen said. "And from a liquidity perspective, we expect to generate net positive cash flow for full-year 2009 and close the year with an improved cash position. Achievement of this objective would lay the groundwork for stronger growth in 2010, not only in renewable energy but also our fuel cell business."

Viaspace's clean energy business includes the design and manufacture of disposable fuel cartridges for fuel cells that can power electronic devices such as notebook computers and cell phones.

Source: Ethanol Producer Magazine