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Spring 2009

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MORSEFIBROWATT ELECTRIC INCORPORATED LLC Family Business Pioneering Moving Renewable Into New Energy Frontiers

THE MAGAZINE FOR ENERGY AND POWER EXECUTIVES


Fibrowatt LLC Pioneering Renewable Energy Produced by Richard Callahan & Written by Shelley Seyler Simon Fraser had a string of “eureka!” moments. Thanks to these revelations, the renewable energy sector in the United States and the United Kingdom has a somewhat unexpected source: poultry litter. Growing up in the north of Scotland, Simon’s brother had a chicken farm on which he learned the basics about poultry farming. Working as

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an investment banker, he recognized he enjoyed making things rather than “rearranging money, which is what he realized investment banking is,” explained Rupert Fraser, Simon’s son and business partner. By the 1970s, he refinanced the largest saw mill in the north of Scotland. One day, his eyes fell on a pile of wood chips that he realized could be used to generate energy if the proper and latest

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technology was used; and it worked. Wanting to achieve this alternative energy on a different scale, Simon built the first commercial heat plant providing process heat to a Scottish malt whisky distillery using forest residues as the energy source. Then one day he found himself following a truck that was transporting poultry


litter and another “eureka” moment was born. Following the truck back to its farm, Simon offered to help the farmer get rid of some of his litter which, naturally, was an appealing idea. The distillery engineers loved the idea; but the marketing people weren’t quite on board. On the national political scene in Britain at this time, the electricity industry was deregulated and the government began to strengthen its support of renewable energy sources. Seizing this opportunity and good fortune, Simon decided to

move south from Scotland to England to start developing the first large-scale UK renewable energy power plant, with poultry litter as the powerful source. Rupert left investment banking in London in 1989 to join his father’s exciting new business.

Jumping International Barriers Throughout the 1990s, Rupert and Simon built the first three poultry litterpowered renewable energy plants in the United Kingdom which were followed by three more under license across the globe. By the end of the 1990s, the father and son team turned their attention to the United States. “We knew it would be slow getting going because the US was not as far advanced in the renewable energy sector as Europe,” said Rupert.

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Having already pioneered this first-of-its-kind business in their home country, the Frasers faced similar challenges in their new market. “Barriers are the same the world over. We had built three in the UK which impressed some but not others…A lot of people think it’s a good idea but may not do it because it is easier to carry on doing what they have been doing,” explained Rupert. By 2002 the UK plants were sold to another company and the Frasers turned their attention to the US market establishing Homeland Renewable Energy to be the holding company of Fibrowatt in the US.

Fibrominn Has Takeoff Fibrowatt’s first US project, Fibrominn in Benson, Minnesota, is the first successful launch of a poultry litter-fueled power

plant in the United States. Opening its doors in mid-2007, the plant sits on 77 acres, two miles west of Benson in west central Minnesota. The impact this development had on the surrounding community includes its 55-megawatt power plant that can serve 40,000 homes and creating 100 full-time jobs and hundreds more over the two-and-a-half year construction period. Using more than 500,000 tons of poultry litter each year, in addition to other biomass, the majority of the fuel comes from local Minnesota turkey growers. Thanks to a close relationship with Foster Wheeler, Fibrowatt received a steam generator that helped the plant get off the ground. Having done a number of projects with Foster Wheeler over the last 20 years, the company plans to maintain this relationship moving forward.

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US Executive Journal Summer Edition 2008 US Executive Journal Spring Edition 2009


This relatively recent success has Fibrowatt positioned to open other plants and the company is focusing on southeastern states. “There is enormous opportunity for growth and deployment in the south east states where there is less renewable energy and lots of biomass from animal byproducts,” explained Rupert. As a result, Fibrowatt is planning to open new plants on up to 15 sites throughout the country. Among the first states are North Carolina, Arkansas, Maryland, and Georgia.

Benefits of Fibrowatt’s Methods Litter recycling to produce energy, though it may initially conjure some skepticism, has proven more than successful. The ability to create energy from surplus litter is extremely appealing, particularly to the farmers who have to dispose of the litter. “We design plants to use the amount of poultry litter that farmers want to supply,” Rupert explained. In addition to using locally abundant biomass and producing renewable energy, Fibrowatt

Foster Wheeler has developed clean-burning combustion and steam

generating technologies to help Fibrowatt and communities like Benson get the most value for their investment in energy technology. The steam generator we supplied to the Fibrominn power plant is a very good example for how the right technology can offer a solution with multiple benefits. The project provides electricity to the Benson community while also providing a solution to an environmentally challenging waste stream. Even the ash from the plant is recycled into fertilizer for the benefit of local farmers. From a technology point of view, it is the largest poultry litter-fired unit in the world and the first U.S. power plant to use 100% poultry litter. Visit us at www.fwc.com to learn more about our innovative and earthfriendly responsible technologies.

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also reduces pollution from the over-application of poultry litter which, when used as a fertilizer, can create a build-up of excess nutrients in the soil. The runoff to groundwater and surface waterways degrades water quality; excess litter can also release nitrous-oxide which is a greenhouse gas. Use of poultry litter in this capacity also produces ash as a byproduct that is nutrient-rich and makes an excellent fertilizer, which is more concentrated and easy to transport to where its nutrients are needed.

“We are cautious because we don’t want to lose focus by going about it the wrong way…Fossil fuel energy has an unfair advantage from being a long-term monopoly, with a huge amount of sunk cost investment,” said Rupert. “Fossil fuels and renewable energy need a level playing field, a change in policy framework.”

Expectations for Future Change

Fortunately for Fibrowatt, it appears this may be happening as President Obama’s administration is already taking steps towards changing energy policy, signaling a not-so-distant shift in favor of additional renewable energy sources.

Though their plans for 15 new sites throughout the country are enough to keep them busy, international sites are not far from their thoughts. First on the list of such destinations is Brazil, then perhaps countries in the Far East such as China.

Thriving in their role as a pioneer in the renewable energy market, Fibrowatt is hopeful that with the new administration and shifts in policy, renewable energy will be given a more viable place in the economy. “Pioneering is an exciting place

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to be,� said Rupert. As alternative energy sources become mainstream, Fibrowatt is ahead of the game and ready to grow throughout the country.

COMPANY AT A GLANCE Established : 2000 Employees : 66 Annual Revenue : $22,100,000 CEO's : Simon & Rupert Fraser www.fibrowattusa.com

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Spring 2009

www.usexecutivejournal.com

Fibrowatt LLC

1717 Langhorne Newtown Rd Langhorne, PA 19047 United States


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