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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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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Zimbabwe: Government Sets Jatropha Target - 80,000 hectares

Jatropha curcas is an excellent energy crop that thrives on marginal soils and survives droughts. Zimbabwe - a country suffering under a severe food, climate and energy crisis - is implementing part of its renewable energy policy by planting 80,000 hectares of the small shrub by the end of the year. It will provide an excellent test-case to see whether Jatropha really keeps its promises.

80,000 hectares does not sound like much, and indeed, it comes down to a mere 2000 barrels a day (to put it in petro-terms). But for Zimbabwe, each barrel it doesn't have to import, counts.

The target was announced last week by the director of Renewable Energy and Conversation in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Mrs Elizabeth Muguti. She was speaking at a field day held by Environment Africa and Tree Africa at Mr Chimusoro's farm in Beatrice last Friday to assess progress of the project. Mr Chimusoro is one of the first farmers in Zimbabwe to embark on massive jatropha production and has since planted more than 1 000 jatropha plants at his 480 hectare farm. "According to our national project by the year 2010, 10 percent of our diesel will come from jatropha. For us to achieve this we have set a target of 80 000 hectares to be put under jatropha," Mrs Muguti said.

She said Government has also set targets for each province to produce at least 10 000 trees of jatropha by the end of 2006. "We can achieve this and all we have to do is for every farmer to grow the plant," she said. Mrs Muguti said Government has also come up with incentives such as out-growers schem es for farmers growing more than five hectares of jatropha. "The Government, through the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, has since launched a programme to support farmers who want to grow more than five hectares of jatropha. "There is an out-growers scheme for farmers interested in growing jatropha. Farmers get free seed and support on how to grow the plant," she said.

Mrs Muguti noted that Government was set to announce more incentives to encourage farmers to embark on jatropha farming. She also said although the main focus was to extract bio-diesel from the multi-purpose plant, Government would also soon look into other products such as soap and organic fertilizers that can be produced from the plant.

In a speech read on his behalf by his ministry's deputy secretary, Mr Irvin Kunene, the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Cde Francis Nhema, said it was pleasing to note that Government's calls for farmers to grow jatropha were now paying dividends. He said Zimbabwe like several countries in the world was faced with fuel shortages caused by a range of factors including disturbances in oil-producing countries and import costs. "The Government has come up with alternative measures in terms of fuel supply and one of these measures is the production of bio-diesel from jatropha," Cde Nhema said.

He said feasibility studies have shown that it is possible and viable to produce bio-diesel from jatropha and there are several benefits that can be derived from the plant. The minister also took the opportunity to mark the beginning of the green ribbon week. The green ribbon week is commemorated during the week on which the World Environment Day falls and this year it is being celebrated from June 5 to 11 June. Mr Chimusoro also demonstrated how the bio-diesel extracted from jatropha could run a Lister T52 engine used by most grinding mills and water pumps in rural areas. Other farmers from the district also had a chance to sample some soap produced fro m jatropha that was made by Tree Africa.

The Herald (Harare).


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