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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 02, 2006

Your voice in Europe: public consultation on "heating and cooling from renewable energies"

A while ago, we had a look at the EU's public consultation round on its Biomass Action Plan, which has now closed. It attracted a wealth of interesting criticisms, suggestions, questions and advice from citizens, non-profits, businesses and governments (earlier post).

Now the public consultation on another important energy-related topic is open for your comments. The EU Commission wants to know what you think of its plan to promote the use of renewable energies (solar thermal, biomass, geothermal and heat pumps...) for heating and cooling buildings, and also what types of measures/policies in order to evaluate their potential should be used. The Directorate-General for Energy and Transport explains the broader context of this consultation:
As referred to in the recent "Green Paper: A European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy"[*.pdf], the international energy situation and Europe’s dependence on imported energy remind us of the urgency to increase the production and use of alternative energies, including renewables. Since 1997, the Commission is working towards the objective of 12% of renewable energies in the EU energy balance by 2010.

While the EU has set legislation on the promotion of electricity generation from renewable energy sources (with an objective of the share of electricity produced by renewable energy of 21% by 2010) and for the promotion of biofuels (with an objective of 5,75% by 2010), the production of heating and cooling from renewable energy has so far not been the subject of specific EU legislation.

On 14 February 2006, the EU Parliament adopted a report by Mrs Rothe (MEP) with recommendations for the Commission to work on heating and cooling from renewable sources of energy.

The Commission is presently working on a possible initiative to promote Heating and Cooling from renewable energy sources. An Impact Assessment study is currently underway. The purpose of this public consultation is to contribute to the Commission’s Impact Assessment by providing a range of opinions and new and innovative ideas regarding the implementation and the impacts of different types of policies and measures that could be considered to promote heating and cooling from renewable energy sources.
The public consultation is structured around a range of broad questions on policy, technology and economy. Do have a look at the questions that are up for debate, here [*.pdf]. If you are an expert and have interesting suggestions, or if you know of some interesting policy or technology, feel free to participate. Try to formulate your answers in a professional way, using references as well as some background to support the substance of your answer. Mentioning existing practices (e.g. a policy initiative you know about, or a specific cooling or heating technology based on renewables) would be very beneficial.

Suggestions and examples, giving as many details as possible regarding the cost of implementation, benefits, ease of implementation and possible obstacles would be most welcome as well. Your suggestions as to the political level where actions should be undertaken (regional, local, Member State, EU) would also be valuable information.

After you've read the questions up for debate, and you can't wait to contribute, you can fill out the well structured online questionnaire. The public consultation is open to all individual citizens (non-EU too), organisations, stakeholders, governments and private companies. You can contribute until 6 october 2006

We are contributing with ideas about importing densified (waste) biomass from the South (pellets, briquettes, bio-coal) to be used in biomass boilers in the North, drawing on research which suggests that such an exchange is not only quite feasible (despite long logistical chains), but that it can contribute to developing countries' economies. We suggest the EU starts thinking about what kind of tariff or tax (if any) it should impose on such woody and waste biomass, and more in general that it should craft a clear vision on "environmental goods" (making carbon credits count on a global scale, and applying them to dedicated biomass feedstocks for heating and cooling that can be produced in the South). We will report back on this later [entry ends here].
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