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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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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Malaysian plantation goes green to earn carbon credits

An oil palm plantation yields a huge amount of "waste" biomass that normally gets burned in the open air. For each ton of palm oil produced, around 5 tons of palm fronds, 1 ton of palm trunks, 1 ton of empty fruit bunches, 750kg of press fibre, half a ton of palm nut kernels and a few hundred kilos of palm kernel press cake becomes available as "waste". Added to this, the processing of fresh fruit bunches coming from one hectare, releases some 100 tonnes of 'palm oil mill effluent', an organic sludge. In total, one hectare of Elaeis trees yields some 5 tons of oil, and 40 tons of solid residual biomass. Now if this biomass is burned, a lot of CO2 is released into the atmosphere. It would be wiser to use this solid biomass for energy production, so that the CO2 emissions are not released in vain and don't contribute to global warming.

It is becoming apparent that oil palm plantations have to clean up their act on almost all fronts. Instead of expanding and destroying more rainforest, they should intensify and develop higher yielding varieties that can increase productivity on plantations that already exist. The practise of clearing and burning rainforests not only means eliminating its biodiversity (which is bad enough), it also means releasing enormous amounts of dangerous CO2 into the atmosphere. Instead of burning waste streams and diverting mill effluents into rivers, the energy contained in the waste should be used, as green energy.

This is exactly what one of Malaysia's oldest estates, United Plantations Bhd, is now doing. The plantation's new bioenergy facilities make it one of the country's first companies to start earning carbon credits. A new biomass power plant and a biogas plant have been installed. The first plant uses the solid biofuels, whereas the biogas plant uses palm oil mill effluent and easily degradable biomass.

The two power systems will reduce dependence on fuel oil (diesel) that is used in the plantations' housing, processing and transport facilities. More importantly, they will slash the amount of carbon coming from the plantation by up to 40 per cent per year. These reductions will be reflected as carbon credits, so-called 'certified emission reductions' (CERs) of greenhouse gases, that it agreed last year to sell to the Danish government, as part of a Clean Development Mechanism project (the 'registered projects' database shows there are several similar projects with palm oil waste biomass under review):
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

CERs are beginning to be traded in a small but growing market in Europe, as part of efforts to meet targets under the Kyoto Protocol. The European 'Emissions Trading Scheme' (ETS) puts a cap on how much producers can emit and allow them to buy carbon credits to offset what they cannot reduce.

The company is also launching a new variety of oil palm that could yield roughly 40 per cent more per hectare than its current crops produce. The new variety could produce up to 8 tonnes a hectare, compared with 5.65 tonnes for the current varieties, and the national average of 3.85 tonnes. Bek-Nielsen said its research centre had made a technological breakthrough in tissue cultivation and oil palm seed cloning.


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