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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 22, 2006

US firm starts biofuels venture in Liberia, brings 'tens of thousands' of jobs

Earlier we wrote about Congo's colonial era plantations that still exist and that urgently need to be rehabilitated. All over Africa there are similar palm plantations that yield far below their potential, and some of them have even entirely been abandoned. Bringing these plantations back online in a well managed way, or replacing the palms with new high yielding varieties, offers a potentially environmentally (and if undertaken correctly, a socially responsible) way of sourcing biofuels feedstock: no new hectarages are deforested to make way for new plantations, and some of the world's poorest communities find new and stable employment opportunities. This is exactly what American company International Bio Fuels Corp (IBF) is attempting to do in Liberia, a country that just came out of a bloody civil war which seriously damaged the plantation sector.

IBF announced today that it plans to develop a large scale biodiesel plant and palm crushing facility in Liberia. IBF and its Liberian business counterparts have been working with the local government officials and local farmers for the past nine months for the implementation of this project.

According to IBF, it is planning to work with a couple of large philanthropic foundations to raise the capital required and that the majority of the profits will be used to build schools, hospitals and to revitalize the local communities through establishing small educational training centers for the prevention and education of diseases.

The project should employ tens of thousands of farmers and elevate the standard of living throughout Liberia and the region. IBF’s President Marty Johnson said, "It's kind of like the gift that keeps on giving. Foundations are accustomed to donating funds to build schools and hospitals and that's where the money stops. This way we can build a profitable entity that puts thousands of people to work and generates ongoing profit that can then be re-invested in the communities for years to come."

IBF and its Liberian business counterparts say they have identified locations where there are pre-existing palm plantations:
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Currently the palm is just going to waste as there are no crushing facilities available in these regions; this valuable renewable resource is going un-tapped. Johnson explains that the cost of the biodiesel plant and crushing facility is not cheap. The turn-key facility is estimated at $65 million USD for development and construction costs. However, the project is projected to net over $50 million USD per year, which will go a long way to stimulate a tremendous amount of growth in the region.

International Bio Fuels is in the development stage of 14 projects which are located in the U.S., Indonesia, China, and now, Africa, but says this is the first of its kind to be built with the intention of generating profits to be given to the communities for worthwhile development. Johnson said, "Foundations similar to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation (which recently announced their African Green Revolution program which is intended to put farmers to work) are those which will hopefully help sponsor this project."

International Bio Fuels Corp. is a leading biofuels company dealing in both ethanol and biodiesel. IBF recently presented at this year's International Biofuels Symposium in Beijing, China on the topic of emerging technologies.


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