<body> -------------------
Contact Us       Consulting       Projects       Our Goals       About Us
home » Archive » Bioenergy_business
Nature Blog Network

    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.

Creative Commons License

Monday, October 23, 2006

Nippon Oil, Toyota and Petronas to develop palm-oil biodiesel

Today, members of the EU Parliament called for a ban on biodiesel made from palm oil (earlier post), because the crop is responsible for enormous environmental damage in South-East Asia and elsewhere. The recent mega forest fires in Malaysia and the resulting haze that clouded the skies over Singapore, are reminiscent of the situation in 1997-98 in Indonesia, when thousands of hectares of forest were burned down for palm oil. This recurring disaster releases vast amounts of CO2 and irreversibly destroys unique and extremely biodiverse ecosystems. The EU parliamentarians now think this should stop. Their call comes at a time when palm oil is being looked at more and more as a competitive feedstock for biofuels.

But on this very same day, Nippon Oil Corp., Toyota Motor Corp. and Malaysian state-oil firm Petronas announce that they are partnering on producing vast amounts of palm biodiesel for exports to Japan.

It is highly unlikely that the EU will be able to prevent other countries from using palm oil for biofuels - after all, 'energy security' and economics still get priority over environmental issues in many countries. Palm oil biodiesel is the most competitive biofuel of them all, currently still beating petro-diesel. But the EU Parliament's signal may finally open a thorough debate on the sustainability of this energy feedstock. The EU can use its political and economic power to force multilateral organisations, like the WTO or the UN, to play a much more active role in establishing basic and science-based sustainability criteria for energy crops (the existing and industry-driven 'Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil' is not nearly enough and its authority in this debate should be seriously questioned). This process must urgently start, before more rainforests - the value of which cannot be expressed in economic terms - are irreversibly destroyed.

The three Asian companies will start joint research in fiscal 2007, and begin test production in Malaysia in fiscal 2009 year, though. It will be the first major attempt in the world to convert massive amounts of palm oil on an industrial scale into automotive fuel, the sources say:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

If palm oil gains widespread acceptance in Japan as an alternative to petroleum, which is expensive, it would help diversify the nation's readily available fuel sources, as there would be a stable supply available from neighboring Asian countries.

Nippon Oil, Japan's largest petroleum company, is looking to gain the upper hand in the biofuel market by collaborating with Malaysia, the world's largest palm oil producer, and auto giant Toyota.

Using palm oil for fuel would also meet environmental concerns in theory because it would prompt the planting of more palm trees, which absorb carbon dioxide - so the logic goes.

(Note: in theory this is correct: as forests are burned down, they release CO2, but this gets taken up again by the growth of the new biomass. Since palm plantations take up more CO2 than pristine rainforests [with rainforests being net CO2 contributors], after several growth cycles, the released CO2 is taken out of the atmosphere and a neutral balance remains.
On the other hand, this simplistic pseudo-environmental argument is almost nonsensical, given the immense value of the biodiversity of Asia's rainforests. No economic argument whatsoever can be used as a legitimation for destroying this biodiversity. That much is clear. There is enough potential to produce liquid biofuels from crops that do not destroy biodiversity or rainforests, based on crops like sorghum, jatropha, or cassava, to name but a few.)

The project started to take shape after Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi asked Japan to collaborate with his country in exploring biofuel technology, when he met with then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in May.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home