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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, July 18, 2006

Canada opts for "grassroots" strategy in biofuels production

The Canadian government is taking an interesting policy approach to the development of its biofuels industry. Previously we reported about Argentina's "Ley de Biocombustibles", which favors small and rural communities to be full stake-holders in the production and which has drafted a special law to this aim, foreseeing rural and micro-credit, knowledge transfer programs, and active fiscal incentives for smallholders. This is important because in the future, when it comes to securing and producing biomass feedstocks, there will be tensions between local rural communities and (foreign) multinational agro-industrial corporations. Some governments proactively favor a bottom-up, grassroots, socially sensible approach, whereas others choose to let the free market run its course (in the developing world, the latter option has often led to poverty, mass unemployment and increased social inequality).

The Canadian government now announced that it will give "grassroots groups" a budget toward boosting biofuel production to meet its 2010 production target. "These initiatives will not only help provide new opportunities to farmers, they will also help lay the foundation for Canada's biofuels strategy," Agriculture Minister Strahl said. Most of the funds, which are a part of the 2006 budget, will go to farmers and rural communities, to develop business proposals and feasibility studies for biofuel production.

Crucially, the policy foresees that "one-third of the ownership has to be producers," Strahl said at a press conference.
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"We'll have to more than double our production," Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl said at a biofuel conference in Calgary.

Ottawa wants 5 percent of Canada's transport fuel to be renewable by 2010, which will require 3 billion liters (793 million U.S. gallons) of biofuel from 8 million tonnes of grain, oilseeds and biomass annually, Strahl said.

The government is developing a strategy to increase production of biofuels -- renewable energy produced from agricultural commodities including canola, wheat and corn -- that is expected to be introduced to cabinet this autumn.

Farmers want to move away from being low-cost commodity producers to value-added producers who will benefit from higher revenue, Strahl said.

Doug Hooper, chief executive of Canadian Bioenergy Corp., a biodiesel importing and distribution company based in the western province British Columbia, welcomed Strahl's announcement. He did not, however, expect Canada's biodiesel production to reach the government's 2010 target.

"We're looking at a minimum 2 percent biodiesel. We don't forecast that we can either build the capacity or demand for biodiesel (by 2010)," Hooper said.

"Our mission here is not to take food out of people's mouths and put it into gas tanks."

Canada will increase its capacity for biodiesel as its canola surplus continues to escalate, Hooper said.

Several Canadian provinces already require ethanol, an alcohol fuel additive usually fermented from corn, to be blended into gasoline.

Reuters Canada.


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