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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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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

FAO's new vegetable oils statistics

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recently launched its new statistical information system on global agricultural production, FAOStat. It is the first revision of the system in more than a decade. “We have redeveloped FAOStat to better serve our users and give them more time for analysis,” the Director of FAO’s Statistics Division, Haluk Kasnakoglu said. “The new FAOSTAT consists of an integrated core database and satellite databases feeding and supporting it. The thematic databases cover areas such as agricultural production, consumption, trade, prices and resources,” Mr Kasnakoglu also said.

The new FAOSTAT is already available from the FAO website. It comes with complete global coverage, cross-domain integration, a fully refined user interface and increased data transparency. A new national version, CountrySTAT, has been under development and is being released in a score of pilot countries. It will offer a two-way bridge between national and international statistics on food and agriculture.

10 million records downloaded every day
FAOStat is currently the world’s largest and most comprehensive statistical database on food and agriculture. It contains over 1 billion data points, 40 million of which are updated annually. The current core of FAOSTAT contains a full matrix of integrated and compatible statistics coverage of 200 countries, a period of 15 years, and more than 200 primary products and input items. The FAOSTAT site receives over 10 000 daily hits and 10 million records are downloaded every day. “This is a twenty-fold increase just over the last 5 years,” Mr Kasnakoglu indicated.

Oils, oil seeds, cakes, meals and protein
We use the FAOStat database often to learn more about the bioenergy potential of a country. One series of data we look at is that of vegetable oil production, to get an overview of the biodiesel production potential (for example, we are analysing the differences in palm oil yields between a highly productive country like Malaysia, and Central African countries; we see that African plantations yield much lower, because of several reasons (bad maintenance, low fertilizer use, low press yields, and so on). This leads us to conclude that old plantations might be replanted with new high-yielding palms, which would boost output. This potential in Africa is large. So without expanding the hectarage, and without new deforestation, old plantations can be replanted and yield much more than they currently do).

In the earlier version of the statistical system, it was difficult to compile one's own databases on this specific topic because data were fused in combined records. In the new version, an entirely dedicated section on oils has been included, where different production indicators are seperately presented. The "Oilseeds, Oils, Fats, Cakes and Meals" database lists yearly maintained entries on gross exports and imports, on indigenous exports, and on production, for the following oils and byproducts (this is a non-exhaustive list): castor beans (oil), coconut (oil, copra meal, copra protein), cotton seeds (cottonseed oil, meal, protein), groundnuts (oil, cake, protein), hempseed (oil), linseed (oil, cake, protein), maize (oil), mustard seed (oil, meal), olive (oil), palm fruits (oil), palm kernels (oil, cake, protein), poppy seed (oil), rapeseed (oil, cake, protein), rice bran (oil), safflower (oil, cake, protein)sesame (oil, cake, protein), soya (oil, cake, proteine), stillingia (oil), sunflower (oil, cake, protein) and tung (oil). Added to this are specialty oils and extracts, plus data on animal oils, meals and cakes. The data are available for all countries, and start from the year 1993. A subsection is devoted to oil seeds with records on crush capacity and rates, imports/exports and production [entry ends here].
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