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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, August 02, 2006

A closer look at Africa's 'Green Opec'

African media keep focusing on the creation of the biofuels association dubbed "Pays Africains Non-Producteurs de Pétrole" (PANPP), and so more details are emerging even though no official documents have been put online yet.
We found that 25 countries participated at the energy conference in Dakar, which was endorsed by the African Union. Of those countries, 15 signed the organisation's founding treaty (see map). Some of those are amongst the poorest countries in the world, which is why we add their ranking on the Human Development Index. They are:
  • Bénin (HDI: 162)
  • Burkina Faso (HDI: 175)
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo (HDI: 167)
  • Gambia (HDI: 155)
  • Ghana (HDI: 138)
  • Guinée (HDI: 156)
  • Guinea-Bissau (HDI: 172)
  • Madagascar (HDI: 146)
  • Mali (HDI: 174)
  • Morocco (HDI: 124)
  • Niger (HDI: 177)
  • Sénégal (HDI: 157)
  • Sierra Leone (HDI: 176)
  • Togo (HDI: 143)
  • Zambia (HDI: 166)
This leaves 23 non-oil producing countries who have not signed up yet. The countries who did, have a combined population of 226 million [see UN Population statistics database for demographic projections], and an arable land base of 378.8 million hectares, of which they currently use 42.9 million ha (slightly more than 11%) [there are great regional differences here; see the FAO's Terrastat database for more information on land resources]. This arable landbase compares to Europe's (384.2 million ha, of which it uses 213.7 million ha).

The PANPP's seat is in Dakar, and the (rotating) presidency is observed by Sénégal during the first year. Several concrete urgency recommendations have already been announced. They include:
  • the creation of a mechanism of sharing and relieving the financial burden of high energy prices, through a solidarity system monitored by major financial institutions
  • the creation of a stabilization fund to relieve the pressure of high oil prices on ongoing development projects and policies (the budgets for social and poverty alleviation policies in those countries are hit most under high energy prices, which means the poorest of the poor suffer first)
  • the creation of institutional, organisational and financial instruments to promote the large-scale introduction of biofuel production in the entire continent, without further delay
  • the creation of a mechanism of solidarity between oil producing African countries (who are reaping tremendous benefits with high oil prices), and the non-producing African countries; concretely, oil producing countries will be asked to invest in biofuels in non-oil producing countries
The 'Green OPEC's next meeting will be held in september of this year, in Morocco, at a ministerial level. At this meeting, more countries are expected to adopt the statutes that in the meantime will have been drafted. The meeting is preceded by the formation of expert groups who will devise strategies aimed at implementing the recommendations formulated at the founding conference.

More information (with mention of more concrete biofuels projects already on the drawing table):
[Entry ends here.]
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