A change of name for biodiesel player Missions Biofuels Ltd has signalled a new milestone for the company as it looks to broaden its scope beyond purely biodiesel production.
Now known as Mission NewEnergy Ltd, the ASX-listed company has grown to include an upstream feedstock business and has pursued opportunities in the renewable power sector.
While many in the biofuels sector have been affected by rising feedstock prices, particularly palm oil, Mission's Malaysian plant has been in continuous production since June.
Construction is also under way on the company's second, 250,000-tonnes-a-year biodiesel plant, located adjacent to the existing one.
That facility is due to come online in December.
Mission managing director Nathan Mahalingam said the name change reflected the company's broader focus beyond just biodiesel production.
"We thought a new name would be a better reflection of the business and would represent us better in the new energy economy," Mr Mahalingam told WA Business News.
While it currently uses crude palm oil as feedstock, Mr Mahalingam said the company expected to be in a position to use jatropha as a feedstock in its refineries in 2009
Mission's Indian feedstock business currently has 250,000 hectares of jatropha planted, and by the end of the 2009 financial year should have 850,000ha.
A single hectare of jatropha is able to produce about one tonne of biodiesel.
Mr Mahalingam said the rising cost of crude palm oil had put a squeeze on margins, with diesel prices not increasing at the same rate.
But despite crude palm oil prices falling in recent weeks, he believes the use of jatropha in biodiesel production is cheaper and more sustainable in the long-term.
Mr Mahalingam said the high quality of its product gave Mission the edge over its competitors in key European markets, particularly Germany.
Mission is the only non-German biodiesel producer to be certified by the Biodiesel Quality Management Association, which imposes strict requirements on its producers.
"We're known for producing top quality product," he said.
"We also produce in a very sustainable manner, and they are two big aspects that the European market values."
In February, Mission moved into another renewable energy business with the construction of wind turbines in India to produce power.
Taking advantage of the Indian government's tax incentives for the development of wind farms, Mission built two wind turbines with a total capacity of 3.3 megawatts.
Not only has this investment reaped the benefit of generating additional revenue, it also allows the company to receive tax concessions, with income derived from the windmills project exempt from income tax for 10 years.
In the first four months of operation, the turbines have generated about $206,000 in revenue.
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