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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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Friday, September 15, 2006

'Hundreds of millions' of farmers to benefit as China aims to triple ethanol output by 2010

China earlier announced an ambitious biofuels and bioenergy policy to be included in its forthcoming Five Year Plans. The rising superpower now says it will more than treble its fuel ethanol output by 2010 to reduce the country's dependence on imported oil and to "boost the income of hundreds of millions of farmers", a government official said on Thursday. This is yet another indication that biofuels production in the (rapidly) developing world is becoming the main job and income generator for the rural masses in the South (earlier Brazil said its biofuel targets will create 3.6 million jobs, Indonesia projects 2.5 million jobs, and Nigeria thinks green energy might generate 3 million jobs - all before 2010).

China has the advantage of having a tradition of strong top-down planning resulting in the classic Five Year Plans first introduced by Chairman Mao. These dirigist plans can move the entire country more or less into a single given direction, en masse. In the case of implementing biofuels targets or fighting climate change, this tradition certainly offers advantages over free market mechanisms. Moreover, for a country like China, where rural-urban migration and the growing inequality between urban and rural citizens is becoming a major problem, resulting in some 87,000 (violent) social conflicts per year [*.pdf], reviving the agricultural sector is absolutely crucial. China itself has always recognized this: the future of the country's social fabric depends on helping the hundreds of millions of farmers that do not share in the economic benefits of the country's rapid growth. The biofuels strategy is a way to contribute to this goal.

Liu Qun from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top planning body preparing the Eleventh Five Year Plan of the People's Republic, told a biofuel conference that annual fuel ethanol output should top 3 million tonnes by 2010, up from 1 million tonnes last year. 3 million tonnes per year of ethanol roughly equals an output of 40,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. Some industry officials have said China was already producing about 5 million tonnes of ethanol, including fuel ethanol, this year, as record-high crude oil prices and a US deficit in the biofuel have triggered an investment boom in the sector. Unofficially, China may thus be producing 8 million tonnes of ethanol by 2010 (roughly 120,000 barrels of oil equivalent).

Officially, fuel ethanol should make up more than 5 percent of the country's gasoline consumption, compared with less then 2 percent now, the division chief from NDRC said at the conference organised by BBI International from the United States. Liu said the government would continue providing financial support for the industry, such as tax breaks or subsidies.

China now has four government-sponsored fuel ethanol plants with total annual capacity of 1.02 million tonnes. Beijing provides subsidies of about 1,300 yuan (€115 / US$163) per tonne of ethanol to the four plants this year. They are also exempted from a 5.0 percent consumption tax and 17 percent value-added tax.

The plants use corn or wheat as feedstocks for fuel ethanol, blended into gasoline in nine provinces, such as Jilin, Henan, Anhui and Heilongjiang. Liu said Beijing would expand the ethanol-blending areas to the central and western parts of the country.

Liu said in future Beijing would encourage the use of non-food raw materials, such as cassava, sweet sorghum and agriculture residues, as feedstocks:
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"The government will continue to support the industry. But it should not take away the land from grains production," he said.

"We will only support converting part of our grains into ethanol as long as it does not threaten the grain supply."

Liu said the southern region of Guangxi, the country's largest cassava grower, would build fuel ethanol facilities for 1.0 million tonnes in the coming five years.

NDRC will permit state-owned grain trader COFCO to build a 200,000 tonnes per year (tpy) cassava ethanol plant in the region, Liu said.

COFCO's Vice President Yu Xubo told the conference it was seeking opportunities to set up non-grain ethanol plants in five provinces, including the one in Guangxi.

"The biofuel industry will boost the sales of farm products and increase incomes of farmers, which make up 80 percent of the country's population," Yu said.

Tianguan Group, one of the four government-sponsored fuel ethanol producers, said it would start building one of its five new ethanol plants this year. The 100,000-tpy plant in central Hubei province will use early rice as feedstock.


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