Rare-Earth Producer Sees Big Potential In Magnet-Powered Wind Turbine Generator Tech

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Molycorp Inc., a major producer of rare-earth oxides, says it is making a significant investment in Boulder Wind Power, which has designed a rare-earth magnet-powered wind turbine generator that the company says can produce electricity at a cost as low as $0.04/kWh.

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 the 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 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/kWh, positioning it to compete directly with fossil-fuel-based generation, according to Boulder Wind Power.

‘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," says Mark A. Smith, Molycorp's president and CEO. "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.’

Joining Molycorp in this investment round was venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates, an investment player in the clean energy, IT and healthcare spaces.

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