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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, July 03, 2006

Developing world to become main biofuels benificiary

Good news for the BioPact: experts confirm that the developing world will become the main benificiary of the global boom in biofuels. When it comes to bioenergy, we ourselves, have always stood firm on the logic of green things:
  • the tropics and subtropics have agro-ecological zones that are best suited for efficient biomass production - per hectare, they deliver considerably more biomass than land in more Northern latitudes
  • unlike industrialized countries in the North, developing countries have a huge base of unused land (in Central Africa, a mere 5 to 10% of all arable land is currently used)
  • likewise, these countries have large rural populations that live in poverty today, with no access to world markets for their cash-crops; the win-win situation is to help them become energy famers, which will lift them out of poverty and which will allow us to use green fuels (with rising oil & gas prices, they're guaranteed an every growing income)
  • studies show that, in general, long-distance (intercontinental) trade in biofuels is very viable, since transport costs and CO2 emissions are much lower than one would expect (petroleum is shipped accross the globe too, and since tropical biofuels are cheaper than petroleum, it makes sense for countries in the South to start exporting them)

The Financial Times gives the word to Elliott Mannis, chief executive of biodiesel company D1 Oils, adding its own weight to the piece:

Are all biofuels equal? It is a question we need to consider as we respond to the growing need to diversify energy supplies and reduce emissions through adopting renewable fuels. As your recent article on the possible pitfalls of tax incentives for biofuels points out ("Elusive cornucopia: why it will be hard to reap the benefits of biofuel", June 21), converting food crops into fuel may not necessarily offer the expected energy efficiencies and emissions reductions.

Given limited availability of arable land and relatively high agricultural production costs in Europe, we need to assess carefully how much cereal and vegetable oil production is worth diverting from food use to biofuel. If we have to boost production to meet food and fuel demand, what will be the impact of increased use of fossil fuel fertilisers?

Given the high prices of food crops, only large-scale refining with intensive energy use may deliver the economies of scale needed to produce cheap biofuel. Growing non-food crops suitable for burning to generate electricity may make more sense than growing more food crops to refine into fuels. Policy and fiscal incentives should encourage crops that can be produced sustainably and do not require greater carbon emissions and fossil fuel use to convert them into energy.

In the medium term, it is the developing world that should gain from such incentives. The most efficient sources of biofuel available grow in tropical regions: sugar cane for bioethanol; palm and jatropha for biodiesel. As a UK biodiesel producer, our strategy at D1 Oils is based on securing supplies of low-cost vegetable oils from developing countries. We are pioneering jatropha because it is an inedible oil that does not require arable land to produce economic yields. If we can increase production of inedible oils such as jatropha, and ensure that production of palm and soya can be increased sustainably, both the developed and developing world can have access to low-cost supplies of biodiesel with a positive energy balance.

In the long run, second-generation biofuels produced from agricultural waste will enable farmers in the developed world to compete more equally in energy crop production with their counterparts in Africa, India and south-east Asia. Until that time, tariff barriers and subsidy regimes should not deny the world access to the sustainable biofuels that only the developing world can produce competitively.



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