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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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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Uganda turning to sugar cane for green electricity

In Brazil sugar cane processors use biomass residues (bagasse) from the cane to produce the electricity they need to keep their mill going. As it is well known, they generate an impressive amount of excess energy, which is then fed from the mill into the national grid. This is green, CO2 neutral, climate-friendly electricity. The technique is rather simple and easily transferrable to other developing countries. As Abubaker Mukose reports, Uganda is picking up on it (and now that the country is going to an electricity crisis, this most simple form of biomass-to-electricty might come in handy):

Piles and piles of crushed baggasse stretch out of an iron-roofed shed adjacent to the sugar factory. Baggasse is waste bio-mass of sugarcane from which juice has been extracted.

Two men scoop the baggasse with spades and pour it into a furnace that connects to a steam boiler, generating fumes of hot steam. A few yards away is a construction site for a towering steam boiler complex. Clad in red overcoats, the constructors piece the huge steel parts together with welding machines.

They gaze at us, trying to work out why we are here, but they soon get back to work.

A huge cylindrical tank lies on its side as the sound from the welding rods breaks the dominance of the ever-rolling sugar factory noise.

At the lower side of the construction site is a magnificent power house housing huge electricity generators fixed to turbines that turn fast, driven by the power of steam produced by the boilers.

They run with the help of steam fed in the double extraction, condensing into the 16MW turbo generator to produce electrical power.

This is at Kakira Sugar Works factory, Jinja, where the Madhvani Group of Companies has committed a $43m investment to boost the power co-generation scheme alongside sugar production.

Electricity generated from baggasse has made Kakira self reliant. The sugar and sweet factories, together with the housing estates, require approximately 7MW of electricity.

Kakira plans to sell the 12MW surplus power to Uganda Electricity Transmission Company (UETCL) for tapping to the national grid system under a long-term power purchase agreement.

It is an initiative likely to help alleviate the country's escalating energy crisis.

"The plant uses baggasse as fuel for the boilers for generation of steam at 42kg per sq. centimetre (530 degrees Centigrade)," explains Sundraman Ganesan, the electrical engineering manager of the bagasse-fired co-generation power plant.

Ganesan adds that necessary expansion equipment for crushing the 5,000 tonnes of cane per day will be commissioned early next year to produce the required baggasse.

Joint managing director (Madhvani Group) Mayur Madhvani says the sugar factory expansion work is almost complete to meet the demand of the co-generation project.

"The new power house that will accommodate the 16MW turbo generator is being completed. On completion, 12MW of power will be exported from Kakira to the grid beginning early next year," Madhvani says, adding that the electricity is environmentally friendly and stable.

Ash coming out of the boilers and flue gasses are wet scrubbed before being released into the atmosphere, thus making it an environmentally friendly set-up.

Madhvani adds that a 33KV power line of approximately 12.6km from Kakira to the Jinja industrial sub-station has been surveyed. "The line will be used to transmit 12MW of power from Kakira to the grid," he explains.

Power Planning Associates-Energy Sector Consultants have been mediating for mutual power purchase negotiations for UETCL to tap Kakira's power.

However, the negotiations have not been completed, much as the country is reeling under a peak hour deficit of 165 megawatts of power.

Already, up to 3MW of surplus power produced by Kakira is wasted daily due to delays in signing the purchase agreement.

"If purchased, Kakira power can satisfactorily light up Jinja town. However, the Government is taking long to finalise the purchase deal, yet we have gone ahead to invest and soon the planned 12MW shall be available," Madhvani complains.

Statistics from the Uganda Electricity Generation Company show that Jinja town requires about 9MW of power during peak hours.

Energy minister Daudi Migereko promises to mediate the purchase negotiations.

"I am happy with the Kakira 20MW co-generation plan. Co-generation electricity is encouraged by the ministry as it is seen to complement our struggle to limit the current power shortage in the country," he says. "Sourcing power today is not an easy task, but as the Government, we are committed to ensuring that there is adequate electricity in the country."

New Vision (Kampala).


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