Wasabi Plans Africa Expansion on Growing Demand for Clean Energy

Wasabi Energy Ltd., a developer of clean-power technology, plans to sell shares in a new unit in Africa as rising demand across the continent lures finance from Asia.

“There seems to be a lot of funding that is wanting to go towards Africa,” Diane Bettess, chief operating officer of the Melbourne-based company, said by telephone. “Chinese companies have built themselves up and got massive penetration in China and now they’re looking for growth so they’re looking outside.”

Wasabi, whose technology captures waste heat to produce electricity, has already proposed to fund its Asian division in a similar way -- planning an initial public offering for the unit later this year. Now it’s turning to Africa as nations struggle to meet power demand amid burgeoning population growth.

Wasabi expects to establish the new unit and start the fundraising once it has projects in Africa to serve as a “spring board,” Bettess said. The process will be under way within the next year, she said, without providing details of how much it intends to raise.

The company is already present in Africa through its 62.5 percent holding in clean-energy developer AAP Carbon Holdings Ltd. Wasabi intends to license its technology to AAP, which plans power stations in Africa’s industrial and renewable-heat industry. The Australian company also has already worked with Chinese partners, agreeing in January to install equipment for a unit of China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. in a $10 million deal.

Geothermal Potential

Wasabi’s Kalina Cycle technology generates electricity from low-heat sources and can be used in geothermal plants, metalworks and oil refineries. In Africa, Kenya already has a geothermal industry, while the South African market is “very strong,” Bettess said.

South Africa is seeking to add 3,725 megawatts in renewable-energy capacity by the end of 2016 through a 100 billion-rand ($9.8 billion) program to help reduce its dependence on coal-fired power.

Wasabi said in May that it planned to fund its Asian unit through an IPO toward year-end. The shares will probably be sold on the Singapore stock exchange, Bettess said this week.

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