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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, October 06, 2006

India to mix biogas with natural gas - for automotive fuels and for electricity

After implementing its ambitious liquid biofuel policies, India's federal government is now thinking of mixing biogas with natural gas to increase the share of alternative fuels in the total energy portfolio of the rapidly growing country. The strategy is part of India's ambitious national biogas programme, which in turn falls under the country's general bioenergy framework. The biogas-NG mix will both be used as an automotive fuel as well as for the generation of electricity.

The Indian Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (MNES) announced that it is going to stimulate the private sector engaged in the production of biogas to consider feeding biogas into the natural gas pipelines for urban gas projects that are being planned in different cities of the country. Mixing biogas with natural gas will follow two separate tracks: one aimed at fuelling cars with Compressed Biogas (CBG) (consisting of methane derived from both natural gas and biogas, in a ratio of 60 to 40 maximum), the other aimed at generating electricity.

"Biogas can be purified and compressed to meet the requirements of the city gas projects and thus throw a good opportunity for development and growth of biogas plants in the country," MNES secretary Shri V. Subramanian said. Subramanian was speaking at the MNES-sponsored national workshop on ‘A Policy Framework for the Biogas Programme for the Next 10 Years’ [*.pdf] at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi.

The Indian Supreme Court has meanwhile given its mandate on the first track: supplying biogas as an automotive fuel to urban centres other than 'metropolitan cities' (which have a special status) is now allowed.

Looking at Europe and Pakistan
India is looking at examples in Europe and in Pakistan, where biogas and CNG have established themselves as viable automotive fuels and where compressed biogas vehicles (bi- or tri-fuel) have arrived on the market. Scandinavia and Central Europe are experiencing a real biogas boom with governments, consumers, auto-manufacturers and fuel distributors investing collectively in biomethane production, distribution and incentives aimed at stimulating consumption. Even though it can be produced from organic waste streams coming from agriculture, municipalities, households and industry, many European countries are beginning to use dedicated energy crops for the production of the gas, such as specially developed hybrid maize varieties and exotic grass species. New technologies for purifying the green gas before mixing it into the natural gas network are also being developed (earlier post).

Pakistan on the other hand is proving that radically switching from a gasoline/diesel to a CNG-infrastructure is feasible. In a crash program that lasted less than two years, the country built a CNG-distribution infrastructure and got 1 million CNG-vehicles on the road (earlier post). These two developments and strategies are now going to be combined in India.

The most environmentally friendly of all fuels
The main advantage of Compressed Biogas (CBG) is that, of more than 70 possible (bio)fuel pathways, it releases the smallest amount of CO2 when the entire well-to-wheel trajectory of the fuel is analysed. Depending on the feedstock, bioconversion process and propulsion technology being used, biogas can even be carbon-negative (earlier post):
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Besides the potential of the biogas/natural gas mix as an automotive fuel, India will also rely on it to generate electricity, both in metropolitan areas as well as in smaller urban centres. "These smaller cities can be focused on for effecting a synergy between biogas plants and the city gas distribution network coming up in those areas," Subramanian said. At the workshop, Subramanian also asked the participants to deliberate upon the various challenges that the programme to popularise biogas plants in the country would face.

He also underlined that the renewable energy sector is not only supplying electricity produced from renewable and non-conventional sources but also helping in sustaining the environment by decreasing the use of firewood and fossil fuels. He said 19 billion Kwh of electricity generated from renewable energy sources was supplied last year. "The total installed capacity of power from renewable energy sources has crossed 8,500 MW," he said. The Workshop is being attended by the heads of rural development departments and state nodal agencies of various states implementing national biogas programme. The heads of Regional Biogas Training Centres, senior scientists of ICAR Laboratories, among others, are also participating.


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