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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 08, 2006

Shell Oil chief: U.S. needs policy on greenhouse gas emissions

Quicknote climate change
Touting the importance of a "culture of conservation" and investment in alternative fuels, John Hofmeister sounded less the leader of the world's third-largest oil company as much as a speaker at an Earth Day celebration. The Shell Oil Co. president, addressing a group in St. Louis Thursday, said as far as the company was concerned, the debate over the science of global climate change is over. [Our friends at Worldchanging will appreciate this comment, since they have launched a campaign to convince people in the U.S. that indeed, the debate is over.]

"It's a waste of time to debate it," he said. "Policy-makers have a responsibility to address it. The nation needs a public policy. We'll adjust." He said it is a perfect time for policy makers to keep fuel prices high and force market changes. In Europe, where fuel prices are higher, less fuel is used, he said:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Hofmeister shared his thoughts on U.S. energy security with a group at Washington University's Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government and Public Policy. As early as the 1920s, St. Louis was North American headquarters for Shell Oil, which is now based in Houston.

He said conventional oil and gas resources are no longer enough for the nation's energy security. The energy future, he said, will include fuel derived from oil shale, gasified coal and other unconventional sources; biofuels such as ethanol from grasses, straw, corn stalks and other plant matter; wind and solar energy; hydrogen fuel cells; and conservation.

He offered an anecdote illustrating how far we have to go.

"This morning at the Hilton, a gas fire was heating an air-conditioned lobby," he said. "It looks and feels great, but is that an efficient use of energy?

"We need to change the hearts, minds, values and behavior of Americans toward a culture of conservation," Hofmeister said. But adjusting the thermostat and driving more slowly isn't enough. He said the U.S. needs different designs of homes, factories and vehicles.

He also said the U.S. represents 8 percent of the world's population that is using 25 percent of the energy supply. "It's not a sustainable formula," he said, noting that the rest of the world wants its "fair share," too.

"The world produces 85 million barrels of oil a day and consumes 84 million barrels, with no available extra supply anywhere," Hofmeister said.

Hofmeister said world oil selling for as little as $10 a barrel in 1998 made investment in alternative fuels not economical. But he said with oil prices upward of $60 a barrel, solar, wind and unconventional fuel projects are doable.

David Hamilton, director of the Sierra Club's global warming and energy division, said he's glad Hofmeister "is not saying global warming is a hoax and their job is to make money."

But, he added, "I'm not bowled over by the fact they're aware we've got problems. Shell has been in the image-making business for some time."

He said Shell saw what BP has done to position itself as a greener company to deflect criticism.

Hamilton said to Shell's credit, the company is investing in solar and wind energy, but "let them come forward and say we need to improve fuel-efficiency standards."

In June, Shell announced plans to build a $200 million (€157 million) wind farm on the island of Maui. Hofmeister said it would help meet Hawaii's renewable energy goals and eliminate the need for a coal-generating plant there.

Shell and General Motors operate five hydrogen fuel cell passenger vans in Washington as a demonstration project. Shell provides a refueling station near the Capitol. But Hofmeister said a technology breakthrough is needed to bring down the cost.

Shell also is investing in producing ethanol from straw and has signed contracts with Idaho farmers willing to produce it. It is involved with a German company producing ethanol from grass, tree limbs and other wood waste. And it plans to launch an experimental project with an unnamed Northeastern city to create ethanol from paper and cardboard.


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