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Active Energy secures US$6 million in funding for first CoalSwitch plant

Active Energy Group Plc, a UK-headed renewable energy, forestry management and timber processing business has announced that it has achieved "certain milestones" in line with its strategy to commercialise its CoalSwitch technology, which utilises low-value wood to produce a 'drop-in' biomass fuel that can be mixed at any ratio with coal in existing unmodified coal-powered fire stations. This includes funding for its commercial plant to be built in the United States (US).

According to a statement, Active Energy Group (AEG) has received a commitment for a five-year unsecured loan facility of US$6 million for the construction of a 35 000 tonne per annum commercial reference plant in North America. The plant will utilise proprietary conversion technology from its AEG CoalSwitch division

The funding unlocks our ability to commercialise our revolutionary and proven CoalSwitch technology and will enable us to generate meaningful revenues within the USA, which is set to be one of our core geographic markets, said Richard Spinks, CEO of Active Energy.

Funding will be provided by Linarus FZE, a private Dubai-based investment company which is controlled by a consortium of investors “who are well known to AEG” and had provided funding for the early-stage development of the technology to produce a “revolutionary biomass coal replacement fuel.”

Successful utility testing

AEG also revealed that Rocky Mountain Power (RMP), part of the US utility major PacifiCorp intends to replace 10 percent of its coal feed at one of its Utah plants with biomass. At the request of RMP and with funding to date provided by the Utah Department of Energy, AEG was contracted to manufacture a sample of AEG CoalSwitch pellets made using mixed wood wastes that are available in Utah.

The produced samples underwent a ball mill test under “stringent conditions” at the University of Utah and, according to AEG, the results “are understood to prove that CoalSwitch mills and behaves better than coal in every respect” demonstrating that the product can be used as a direct replacement for coal at a coal-fired utility.

We are delighted with RMP’s public support for our product. Not only is it positive in terms of our future relationship with RMP but we anticipate that this will aid our ongoing discussions with other potential customers going forward. Due to its ability to enable coal-fired power stations to meet strict green regulations without the need for expensive retrofit programmes traditionally required to accommodate biomass feedstock, we believe that CoalSwitch represents a potentially ground-breaking force in the market, said Richard Spinks.

The next step is for RMP to prepare for the commercial use of the advanced biomass coal replacement product at one of its Utah utilities in 2017.

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