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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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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sneak Preview of the "Biofuels Atlas" - a great planning tool

Exclusive story, from our own members

One of our members works as a researcher for a bioenergy consulting firm and he's currently involved in a mapping project called the Biofuels Atlas. We are grateful that he's willing to give us a sneak preview of his work. Since the planning tool is proprietary, we can only give a few screenshots.
The Biofuels Atlas uses a series of agronomic GIS and socio-economic databases on land use patterns, hydrology, climate, soils, growing seasons, crop productivities, demographic and economic trends, urbanisation, climate change and political risks, transport infrastructure and projected energy demand, to name the most important factors. Many of those are provided by the UN, the IEA and other big institutions, still others are academic databases whereas the rest are proprietary.

The result is a fascinating interactive tool that allows planners to visualise a country's bioenergy, biomass and biofuels production potential over time, using combinations of layers. The maps show the potential per energy crop, or for a combination of crops. More than 14 of the most interesting bioenergy crops will be covered (amongst them sugar cane, cassava, sorghum, sugar beet, palm oil, soya, maize, jatropha, eucalyptus, switchgrass, poplar, sunflower and coconut).

We can't wait to see the Biofuels Atlas coming online.
Have a look at some of the maps.

Biofuels Atlas, combination of socio-economic and climate layers

Biofuels Atlas, showing sugar cane land suitability layer for the DR Congo

Biofuels Atlas, showing several types of forest in the DR Congo

Biofuels Atlas, showing cassava land suitability layer for the DR Congo

As can be noted, cassava does not grow in rainforest zones, on the contrary, it prefers agro-ecological zones at the fringes and at lower and higher latitudes.

We already knew this was the case for cassava in Central-Africa, but to our surprise, the same is true for soya.

Biofuels Atlas, showing soya land suitability layer for the DR Congo

Soya does not grow there were rainforests thrive. The Biofuels Atlas promises to bring more nuance to the debate about the environmental effects of energy farming. This is exactly what's needed, since this debate is often troubled by a lack of scientific insight - for example, some environmentalists continuously refer to soya's destructive effects on rainforests, but then we see this map; in the case of the DRCongo, soya isn't even an important crop. Cassava and sorghum have much more potential (both crops do not eat away forests, on the contrary).

Sadly the pictures are too small to read the total energy potential of all these energy crops, but we have been assured that it is impressive. Anyway, we can't wait to use this interactive tool. It will allow us to get a better appreciation of where we're going with our project - and it will be an interesting guideline in the discussions about which crops hold the greatest potential over time, and which ones have what kind of effects on the ecology of the regions we're concerned with here at the BioPact.


Anonymous said...

Hi, we're very interested in this atlas. Is there any chance you could tell us who's making it? Which company?
Please contact us at: [email protected]

3:15 PM  
Anonymous said...

When and where will the Atlas become available?

2:34 PM  

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