Ex-Im Bank Provides $48.6 Million in Financing for U.S. Green-Technology Exports to Biogas Project in Brazil
Export Generates 165 New Jobs in Seven States; Project Helps Convert Environmental Hazard Into Green-Energy Source
WASHINGTON, May 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- FirmGreen Inc., a small renewable-energy company based in Newport Beach, Calif., and other U.S. green-technology suppliers are benefiting from a $48.6 million loan from the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) supporting exports of equipment and services for the development of the Novo Gramacho biogas project in Brazil.
FirmGreen estimated that the Novo Gramacho project directly generated 165 new jobs at its facilities and at other companies in seven states: Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, California, Michigan, Missouri and Texas. It also supported jobs for FirmGreen and other U.S.-based employees in Brazil providing construction management services.
The transaction is Ex-Im Bank's first financing for biogas reclamation and development. Ex-Im's 12-year loan was vital because long-term financing for renewable-energy projects is limited in Brazil. The U.S. exporter, FirmGreen®, also faced competition from European companies backed by their governments' export-credit agencies.
The loan borrower, Gas Verde S.A., is the project owner and will operate the Novo Gramacho biogas plant located at the 140-hectare Jardim Gramacho landfill near Rio de Janeiro. One of the world's largest solid-waste landfills, Jardim Gramacho was the subject of "Waste Land," an internationally acclaimed documentary that was nominated for an Academy Award in 2011. The biogas plant will convert the site's "dirty" methane gas (a by-product of trash decomposition that lingers for years and is more environmentally harmful than carbon dioxide) into clean, usable biomethane gas.
"We are very pleased to provide financing for the Novo Gramacho biogas project. This project has multiple benefits both in the United States and in Brazil. It generated new jobs for highly skilled workers in seven states across the country. It also enables the Brazilian project owner, Gas Verde, to convert an environmental hazard into a green-energy source that will reduce local emissions of greenhouse gases as well," said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg.
"The loan from Ex-Im Bank is instrumental to positioning our green technology competitively worldwide," stated FirmGreen CEO Steve Wilburn. "We believe Americans can take global leadership roles in renewable technologies, and the confidence that Ex-Im Bank has demonstrated by financing this project will help us do that. Ex-Im's financing supports jobs for skilled workers at FirmGreen and at numerous small businesses across America related to the supply chain for this project."
FirmGreen and its subcontracted companies supplied proprietary biogas-cleaning equipment run by FirmGreen's patented VerdeControls™ operating software and other related services. The biogas plant will capture and treat 20,000 normal cubic meters per hour (nM3/hr) of raw landfill gas to produce 9,000 nM3/hr of fuel-grade biomethane gas. The biomethane sold under FirmGreen's trademark will be transmitted by pipeline to a nearby refinery owned and operated by Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras), Brazil's national oil-and-gas company.
The environmental benefits of the Novo Gramacho project are substantial. Reclamation of the biogas at the site will significantly reduce passive landfill emissions to the atmosphere. Moreover, biogas from the Novo Gramacho plant will directly replace approximately 10 percent of the natural gas derived from fossil-fuel sources that is consumed at the Petrobras refinery. Total greenhouse-gas reductions associated with this project are estimated to be approximately 1.4 million metric tons annually. The effect is analogous to eliminating the consumption of 160 million gallons of gasoline or removing approximately 280,000 passenger vehicles from the road each year.
FirmGreen Inc. is a privately held, integrated energy company that participates in virtually all aspects of the global green-energy business. FirmGreen identifies, develops and commercializes new and emerging technologies and alternative fuels. The company has 37 employees at its headquarters in Newport Beach, Calif., its lab and manufacturing plant in Kokomo, Ind., and its green-energy project-financing operations in New York City. The company also has U.S.-based employees in Brazil.
Guild Associates Inc., an engineering firm in Dublin, Ohio, served as a major subcontractor. The company fabricated the specialized gas-cleaning equipment and is also assisting during the start-up of the biogas plant.
Supporting U.S. renewable-energy and other environmentally beneficial exports to international markets is one of Ex-Im Bank's special initiatives. In fiscal year 2011, Ex-Im Bank authorized a record $889 million to support over $1.3 billion of U.S. exports of environmentally beneficial goods and services. More than 81 percent of these authorizations supported exports related to renewable-energy production.
About Ex-Im Bank:
Ex-Im Bank is an independent federal agency that helps create and maintain U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing at no cost to American taxpayers. In the past five years, Ex-Im Bank has earned for U.S. taxpayers $1.9 billion above the cost of operations. The Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms, including working capital guarantees, export-credit insurance and financing to help foreign buyers purchase U.S. goods and services.
Ex-Im Bank approved $32.7 billion in total authorizations in FY 2011 – an all-time Ex-Im record. This total includes more than $6 billion directly supporting small-business export sales – also an Ex-Im record. Ex-Im Bank's total authorizations are supporting an estimated $41 billion in U.S. export sales and approximately 290,000 American jobs in communities across the country. For more information, visit www.exim.gov.
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