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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, August 22, 2006

Elevated CO2 enhances growth of energy trees

Quicknote energy crops and CO2 mitigation
Scientists in Italy working on an EU project called the 'European Free Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment experiment on Poplar plantations' ('POPFACE', now 'EUROFACE' > new website) grew three well-watered and adequately fertilized poplar species for energy - Populus alba L. clone 2AS-11 (white poplar), Populus nigra L. clone Jean Pourtet (black poplar), Populus x euramericana clone I-214 (robusta poplar) - for three years at the POPFACE facility in Central Italy near Viterbo, where the air's CO2 concentration was increased by approximately 180 ppm in half of the experimental plots, after which the trees were coppiced (cut to the bases of their stems some 5-8 cm above the ground) and allowed to sprout and grow again for another three years under the same, but even better fertilized, conditions. The results of the first 3-year growth period and of the second 3-year period are as follows:
  • fertilization did not affect the growth of the second-rotation trees, "likely because of the high rates of fertilization during the previous agricultural land use," according to the 14 researchers involved with the experiment.
  • "In contrast," in their words, "elevated CO2 enhanced biomass production by up to 29%, and this stimulation did not differ between above- and below-ground parts." the net rate of carbon assimilation was "on average for all species stimulated up to 30% during the third year of the second rotation"
  • "after 6 years of fumigation, measurements of photosynthetic parameters along the canopy profile could not detect any clear sign of acclimation to elevated CO2" for the three species.
What it means
The scientists conclude that "poplar trees are able to optimally profit from future high CO2 concentrations, provided that they are intensively managed, planted in regions with high incident radiation and supplied with sufficient nutrients and water." Such "high-density poplar coppice cultures," in their opinion, "offer possibilities to mitigate the rise of atmospheric CO2 by producing renewable bioenergy in an economically feasible way, whereby the elevated CO2 stimulation might sustain over several rotation cycles.

The EUROFACE project aims at carrying out the following tasks:
  • Coordination of a trans-European research effort in the field of global change interactions with a forest plantation ecosystem.
  • Improvement of existing Free Air CO2 Enrichment facility and granting access to a wider scientific community.
  • Development of remote sensing technology to assess water consumption and energy balance of plantation forestry systems under present and future climatic conditions.
  • Evaluation the amount of carbon being sequestered in the biomass and in the soil of intensive bio-energy forest plantation in relation to various management regimes (coppice vs. single stem, fertilisation, species choice)
  • Assessment of relative contribution of increasing atmospheric levels of CO2 and N fertilisation on increased C sequestration in surplus arable land planted with woody crops.
The question now is whether similar research in the tropics on fast growing energy tree species like Eucalyptus will yield similar results. If this is the case, then planting trees for energy is rapidly becoming one of the most straightforward and efficient ways to combat CO2 in the long-run.

[Entry ends here].
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