Rare earths miner Molycorp Invests in Wind Energy Technology. Boulder Wind Power’s innovative technology promises to dramatically accelerate the global deployment of high-efficiency, advanced wind turbines.
Molycorp, Inc. (NYSE:MCP), the Western hemisphere’s only producer of rare earth oxides (REO) and the largest REO producer outside of China, today announced that it is making a significant investment in Boulder Wind Power, which has designed a rare earth magnet powered wind turbine generator that can produce electricity as low as $0.04 per kilowatt-hour.
Molycorp invested in Boulder Wind Power’s Series B Convertible Preferred Stock as part of a $35 million capital raise by the company. With the investment, Molycorp gains board representation in Boulder Wind Power and is positioned to be the "preferred provider" of rare earth magnets and/or alloys for wind generators using this technology. Molycorp is using cash from operational earnings for the investment. Other details of Molycorp’s investment were not disclosed.
Boulder Wind Power’s patented wind turbine technology allows for the use of rare earth permanent magnets that do not require dysprosium, a relatively scarce rare earth. By utilizing dysprosium-free permanent magnets, and other engineering innovations that dramatically reduce the use of structural steel and eliminate the use of expensive laminated electrical steel, wind turbines incorporating Boulder Wind Power’s technology are expected to produce power at or below $0.04 cents per kilowatt-hour, positioning it to compete directly with fossil fuel-based generation.
Joining Molycorp in this investment round was the venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA), an early investor in Boulder Wind Power. NEA is a key investment player in the clean energy, IT, and health care spaces, with more than $11 billion in committed capital.
"Boulder Wind Power’s innovative technology promises to dramatically accelerate the global deployment of high-efficiency, advanced wind turbines," said Mark A. Smith, Molycorp’s President and Chief Executive Officer. "By effectively solving the dysprosium supply problem for the wind turbine industry, this technology removes a major hurdle to the expansion of permanent magnet generator wind turbines across global markets. This investment also furthers Molycorp’s ‘mine-to-magnets’ business strategy, and our commitment to manufacturing value-added ‘green energy materials,’ by providing us with potentially large markets for the magnetic rare earth materials we will produce."
Sandy Butterfield, Boulder Wind Power’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are thrilled to have Molycorp as a major investor and partner in Boulder Wind Power. Gaining access to Molycorp’s magnetic rare earth materials positions this superior technology to accelerate rapidly and our company to grow with it."
"Linking such an innovative wind energy technology with U.S. sourced rare earth production creates many potentially powerful synergies," said Dan Arvizu, Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). "It promises to strengthen the ability of the U.S. to manufacture wind turbines domestically and to compete more effectively in global markets."
Boulder Wind Power is a private, venture backed company based in Boulder, Colorado that has developed a radically different direct drive wind turbine generator for utility scale electricity generation. The Company’s next generation technology is simpler, more efficient and less costly to maintain than alternative wind turbine technologies. Boulder Wind Power’s products will enable the production of electricity at a cost dramatically lower than existing offerings and competitive with fossil fuel energy production costs. The Company will be a technology provider to wind turbine manufacturers and supply its patented generator and electronics for incorporation into their products. Turbine design services will also be provided to enable Boulder Wind Power’s customers to quickly develop and deliver next generation wind turbines incorporating the BWP generator and electronics.
New Enterprise Associates, Inc. (NEA) is a leading venture capital and growth equity firm focused on helping entrepreneurs build transformational businesses across multiple stages, sectors and geographies. With approximately $11 billion in committed capital, NEA invests in information technology, healthcare and energy technology companies at all stages in a company’s lifecycle, from seed stage through IPO. The firm’s long track record of successful investing includes more than 170 portfolio company IPOs and more than 280 acquisitions. In the U.S., NEA has two offices in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and one in Menlo Park, California. In addition, New Enterprise Associates (India) Pvt. Ltd. has offices in Bangalore and Mumbai, India and New Enterprise Associates (Beijing), Ltd. has offices in Beijing and Shanghai, China.
With offices in the U.S., Europe, and Japan, Molycorp, Inc. is the only rare earth oxide (REO) producer in the Western Hemisphere and the largest REO producer outside of China. In addition to its current production of rare earth oxides at its flagship rare earth mine and processing facility at Mountain Pass, California, the Company produces rare earth metals, rare earth alloys (such as neodymium-iron-boron and samarium-cobolt alloys) and rare metals such as niobium and tantalum. The rare earths and rare metals Molycorp produces are critical inputs in existing and emerging applications including: clean energy technologies, such as hybrid and electric vehicles and wind power turbines; multiple high-tech uses, including fiber optics, lasers and hard disk drives; numerous defense applications, such as guidance and control systems and global positioning systems; advanced water treatment technology for use in industrial, military and outdoor recreation applications; and other technologies.