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    Spanish company Ferry Group is to invest €42/US$55.2 million in a project for the production of biomass fuel pellets in Bulgaria. The 3-year project consists of establishing plantations of paulownia trees near the city of Tran. Paulownia is a fast-growing tree used for the commercial production of fuel pellets. Dnevnik - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Hungary's BHD Hõerõmû Zrt. is to build a 35 billion Forint (€138/US$182 million) commercial biomass-fired power plant with a maximum output of 49.9 MW in Szerencs (northeast Hungary). Portfolio.hu - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Tonight at 9pm, BBC Two will be showing a program on geo-engineering techniques to 'save' the planet from global warming. Five of the world's top scientists propose five radical scientific inventions which could stop climate change dead in its tracks. The ideas include: a giant sunshade in space to filter out the sun's rays and help cool us down; forests of artificial trees that would breath in carbon dioxide and stop the green house effect and a fleet futuristic yachts that will shoot salt water into the clouds thickening them and cooling the planet. BBC News - Feb. 19, 2007.

    Archer Daniels Midland, the largest U.S. ethanol producer, is planning to open a biodiesel plant in Indonesia with Wilmar International Ltd. this year and a wholly owned biodiesel plant in Brazil before July, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The Brazil plant is expected to be the nation's largest, the paper said. Worldwide, the company projects a fourfold rise in biodiesel production over the next five years. ADM was not immediately available to comment. Reuters - Feb. 16, 2007.

    Finnish engineering firm Pöyry Oyj has been awarded contracts by San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. to provide services for the first bioethanol plant in the Philippines. The aggregate contract value is EUR 10 million. The plant is to be build in the Province of San Carlos on the north-eastern tip of Negros Island. The plant is expected to deliver 120,000 liters/day of bioethanol and 4 MW of excess power to the grid. Kauppalehti Online - Feb. 15, 2007.

    In order to reduce fuel costs, a Mukono-based flower farm which exports to Europe, is building its own biodiesel plant, based on using Jatropha curcas seeds. It estimates the fuel will cut production costs by up to 20%. New Vision (Kampala, Uganda) - Feb. 12, 2007.

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has decided to use 10% biodiesel in its fleet of public buses. The world's largest city is served by the Toei Bus System, which is used by some 570,000 people daily. Digital World Tokyo - Feb. 12, 2007.

    Fearing lack of electricity supply in South Africa and a price tag on CO2, WSP Group SA is investing in a biomass power plant that will replace coal in the Letaba Citrus juicing plant which is located in Tzaneen. Mining Weekly - Feb. 8, 2007.

    In what it calls an important addition to its global R&D capabilities, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) is to build a new bioenergy research center in Hamburg, Germany. World Grain - Feb. 5, 2007.

    EthaBlog's Henrique Oliveira interviews leading Brazilian biofuels consultant Marcelo Coelho who offers insights into the (foreign) investment dynamics in the sector, the history of Brazilian ethanol and the relationship between oil price trends and biofuels. EthaBlog - Feb. 2, 2007.

    The government of Taiwan has announced its renewable energy target: 12% of all energy should come from renewables by 2020. The plan is expected to revitalise Taiwan's agricultural sector and to boost its nascent biomass industry. China Post - Feb. 2, 2007.

    Production at Cantarell, the world's second biggest oil field, declined by 500,000 barrels or 25% last year. This virtual collapse is unfolding much faster than projections from Mexico's state-run oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos. Wall Street Journal - Jan. 30, 2007.

    Dubai-based and AIM listed Teejori Ltd. has entered into an agreement to invest €6 million to acquire a 16.7% interest in Bekon, which developed two proprietary technologies enabling dry-fermentation of biomass. Both technologies allow it to design, establish and operate biogas plants in a highly efficient way. Dry-Fermentation offers significant advantages to the existing widely used wet fermentation process of converting biomass to biogas. Ame Info - Jan. 22, 2007.

    Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited is to build a biofuel production plant in the tribal belt of Banswara, Rajasthan, India. The petroleum company has acquired 20,000 hectares of low value land in the district, which it plans to commit to growing jatropha and other biofuel crops. The company's chairman said HPCL was also looking for similar wasteland in the state of Chhattisgarh. Zee News - Jan. 15, 2007.

    The Zimbabwean national police begins planting jatropha for a pilot project that must result in a daily production of 1000 liters of biodiesel. The Herald (Harare), Via AllAfrica - Jan. 12, 2007.

    In order to meet its Kyoto obligations and to cut dependence on oil, Japan has started importing biofuels from Brazil and elsewhere. And even though the country has limited local bioenergy potential, its Agriculture Ministry will begin a search for natural resources, including farm products and their residues, that can be used to make biofuels in Japan. To this end, studies will be conducted at 900 locations nationwide over a three-year period. The Japan Times - Jan. 12, 2007.

    Chrysler's chief economist Van Jolissaint has launched an arrogant attack on "quasi-hysterical Europeans" and their attitudes to global warming, calling the Stern Review 'dubious'. The remarks illustrate the yawning gap between opinions on climate change among Europeans and Americans, but they also strengthen the view that announcements by US car makers and legislators about the development of green vehicles are nothing more than window dressing. Today, the EU announced its comprehensive energy policy for the 21st century, with climate change at the center of it. BBC News - Jan. 10, 2007.

    The new Canadian government is investing $840,000 into BioMatera Inc. a biotech company that develops industrial biopolymers (such as PHA) that have wide-scale applications in the plastics, farmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Plant-based biopolymers such as PHA are biodegradable and renewable. Government of Canada - Jan. 9, 2007.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Quicknotes on biofuels, from the lusophone world

Our portuguese speaking crew compiled the following overview of newsbits from the Lusophone world:

BRAZIL. Japan's International Cooperation Bank is to invest R$ 1.2 billion (€420 million)in Brazil's bioenergy program. In 2004 and last year, Japan already studied and signed deals to import ethanol and biodiesel from the country. The new investment focuses on three themes: (1) support for small independent farmers who will integrate food production and biofuels feedstock, (2) support for grassroot organisations and energy farmers who work within a framework of cooperatives and (3) technology transfers (on a higher governmental level). Especially the first two of those are of interest to the BioPact.
The Bank's CEO says that the program is part of Japan's new energy strategy for the coming decades, in which biomass plays a crucial role. Japan's own potential is limited, which is why it is looking at closing bilateral deals. June 1, Diário do Grande.

MOZAMBIQUE. Mozambique starting ambitious biodiesel and bioethanol programmes, based on abundantly available sugar and soy. In total more than US$ 200 million is being invested, involving several companies, amongst which "Mozambique Biofuel Industries", which obtained permission to use 500,000 hectares of land to produce feedstock. Mozambique's state-run oil company Petromoc has signed a cooperation agreement with South-Africa's Cofamosa to invest US$ 150 million in an ethanol plant in Moamba, which will use sugar cane. Nutasa, a portuguese group is building a similar plant in Maputo.
Meanwhile the Mozambican government is building its second (US$ 14 million) biodiesel plant near the capital Maputo, this one aimed at producing the green fuel for export to the European Union.
This biofuel fever will provide thousands of jobs to Mozambican sugar, jatropha, and soybean farmers. It will also reduce the country's depence on imported petroleum. Canal de Moçambique.

PORTUGAL. The Algarve's regional Energy & Environmental Agency has studied a new energy and mobility concept for the sparsely populated and dry province. It proposes to use sand-buggies for the public transport fleet which it wants to run on locally produced biodiesel (because importing diesel is expensive for lack of infrastructure), and on batteries that are charged by the wind turbines that take advantage of the province's very high wind potential. June 14, Jornal do Algarve.

BRAZIL. Embrapa - Brazil's agroindustrial giant - has patented a new, semi-portable thermal gasification technology which produces liquid biofuels much more competitively than transesterification and fermentation plants. The technology is aimed at groups who want to produce biodiesel, ethanol or biokerosene from biomass without the need for catalysts, in a decentralised way. It will be introduced to the market in the first semester of 2007. June 7, Valor Online.

BRAZIL. This year's Energy Summit in Brazil, which will be held in july, will focus amongst other things on biomass and bioenergy production infrastructure, and on technology transfer programs aimed at spreading the knowledge about tropical biofuel crops and processing to other Latin American countries. June 12, Portal National de Seguros.

BRAZIL. Researchers defend controversial eucalyptus plantations that produce fibre, fuel, charcoal, paper pulp and methanol. Scientists reject several of the environmentalist critiques about (fast growing) eucalyptus monocultures. When planted on Brazil's many sloped lands, integrated on a local level with lower-lying fields (in valleys), they can solve the problem of soil erosion and nutrient loss. Biomass growing on slopes often gets logged by local people in search of fuelwood. The result is that rainwater can freely run down the slopes and causes mudslides, nutrient loss and water logging in the lower lying fields. Moreover, eucalyptus trees protect soils because they aren't harvested annually, as is the case with other crops.
The critique about eucalyptus depleting water resrouces is unfounded, adds the Agency for Agroforestry Research, because in comparison with many wild biomass stands, it consumes considerably less. Moreover, monocultures allow for planned and more efficient management of the water resource, which may benefit local communities.
Finally, in comparison with ordinary agriculture, the silviculture of eucalyptus requires much less fertilizer, meaning it pollutes the hydrological system much less. May 22, more discussion about this controversial crop at Celulose Online. Informações e negócios no mundo da celulose.

PORTUGAL. After the recent news that Portugal is building the world's largest solar power plant, its minister of Economy and Innovation has announced that the renewable energy sector will be getting another boost because of investments in biofuels production and biomass power plants. This makes the green energy sector Portugal's fastest growing economic sector (qua investments). Of those, around €120 million goes liquid biofuel production and, over the coming years, €450 million to biomass power plants. Jornal de Negócios.

BRAZIL. Babassu shells can produce 260 MW of biomass energy for poor forest communities. Babaçu is a palm tree native to Brazil, widely grown there and provides an important industrial and economical resource because of the oil extracted from the kernels. The oil is similar to coconut oil and is gradually conquering that market. Since the trees are not grown in plantations, but are used as they stand in the wild (in the Amazon), its nuts are harvested manually by some of Brazil's poorest communities. They are often left with huge waste-streams of shells after they have removed the oil-rich kernels (which is done manually as well). Unicamp's Faculty of Mechanical Engineering studied the potential for using this waste in efficient co-generation plants, and sees a great opportunity in it for rural electrification. Each year, some 2.9 million tons of babassu shell are wasted. Kaxi, Agência de noticias da Amazônia.

[Entry ends here.]


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