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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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Monday, June 19, 2006

Small is beautiful: Tuvalu bets on bioenergy, before disappearing

Small island states are the first to experience the effects of global warming in a very tangible way. The nation of Tuvalu, a micro-state counting 9 atolls in the South Pacific, is the first to face the tragic fate of gradually disappearing because of rising ocean levels. It may take less than 5 decades.

But before the announced tragedy becomes a reality, the 11,000 strong nation wants to send a clear message to the world: invest in clean and renewable energies now.

Tuvalu itself has launched a "Small is beautiful" campaign, to set the example. Its main objective: becoming energy independent through biofuels and biomass. Remote island states suffer more than anyone under high oil prices, because fuels have to be shipped over great distances to islands with small populations. And in the case of Tuvalu, dependence on foreign oil is quasi-total. CO2 from fossil fuels is largely responsible for Tuvalu's fate, so symbolically speaking it would be absurd for the micro-state to import more of it. It is instead taking a U-turn.

But how then is such a small, remote, but paradisiacal nation ever going to become energy independent?

The "Small is beautiful" campaign gives itself 10 years to become self-sufficient in energy matters. The idea was conceived by Gilliane le Gallic, known for her beautiful but disturbing documentary "Nuages au Paradis" (Clouds over Paradise), about the grim future of the island state.
The plan now is to turn Tuvalu into a model of sustainability, covering each imaginable sector of life on the island from water and sanitation, to energy, biodiversity, beaches and tourism. No renewable energy technology will be left unused, from wind, to solar water heating.

Biofuels and bioenergy

Fanny Héros, who leads the cultural component of the campaign, which finds its main staff at the Tuvaly Maritime Training Institute, says that the project "will be very focused on biomass and bioenergy, with biodigesters producing biogas from human, animal and agricultural waste-streams".
"A biodiesel production unit will use abundant coconut oil". Two hectares of coconut plantation would satisfy all the demand for marine diesel (boats are Tuvalu's main mode of transport, and they're used heavily by tourism). Moreover, the same plantation will also cover 20% of the domestic electricity need, either using coco-diesel in generators or coconut shells for combustion.
Other, more solid biological waste streams will be turned into pellets, ready to be burned at a biomass plant.

A showroom for sustainable development, in the middle of the Pacific

"The idea is to turn Tuvalu into a pilot atoll", Fanny Héros adds. We are experimenting with new technologies to grow biomass in salty environments, because much of our land has suffered under saltification. We're even exploring the idea of using coral reefs as bases to grow energy. "Until now, Tuvalu was a victim of forces beyond its own control, now we're turning these forces into our advantage, and we'll show the world what's possible".

Without precedent amongst small island states, this ambitious project is supported by French institutions (Fonds Pacific, French Embassy in Fiji). Both the Asian Development Bank, and the PIGGAREP program, a United Nations initiative to reduce carbon-emissions in 10 Pacific island states, including Tuvalu, are impressed and wish it could be duplicated in all Pacific nations.

Novethic, media for sustainable development.

Interesting side-news: EU Chief Barosso receives the ironic "Tuvalu Palme d'Or" for his committment not to fight global warming.


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