Solid Energy Reveal Future Plans


During the recently held Solid Energy AGM, Chairman John Palmer and CEO Dr Don Elder explained the company's motivation going forward is to counter the global downturn and secure a foothold in a somewhat slippery energy market. Their plans covered two areas; the first focused on the renewable sector and the second on new innovations. The first project discussed involved expansion of the Nature's Flame wood pellet plant in Taupo (J126490). With entry into the lucrative European market, the company plans to expand capacity into a 180,000 tonne per year plant and is investigating Japan and Australia as new markets. Further expansion of the Rolleston biodiesel plant (J126388) is also planned but will occur when there is enough demand, however with growth of 76% since last fiscal year this may come sooner than later. The Stockton hydro-dam (J104447) is on blocks while resource consent is being completed.

The second area of work involves new technologies, which allow utilisation of resources previously uneconomic to develop. A coal gasification plant being built in Waikato (J119148) is to be commissioned early 2011. The process uses chemical reactions to convert coal into a substance called syngas, which could be supplied to Huntly thermal power plant or converted into other end-use products. A pilot plant for converting lignite coal to briquettes or vehicle fuel (J126375) is being researched, as are techniques to transform it to fertilisers, plastics and other end products. Making lignite into briquettes raises the energy value so it is equivalent to Ohai coal (a high grade of coal). This plant would foreshadow a commercial scale venture if it proves successful. Plans are also afoot for the company to capture methane from marginal coal seams in the Waikato for development as fuel.

Reporter: Greg Stokes, Whats On Report Researcher, November 2010.
Editor: Sadaf Lourie, Whats On Report


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