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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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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Philippines approve biofuels bill after agonising battle

The passage of the biofuels bill by the Philippine Senate yesterday was hailed by Rep. Juan Miguel Zubiri as an early Christmas gift for the Philipino people and for sugar-producing provinces like Negros Occidental (which have the potential to become biofuel exporters, earlier post). The Philippines has gone through a long and at times agonising battle in which petroleum and auto-makers' lobbies - who opposed the bill - squared off with farmers, environmentalists and academics (earlier post).

Senator Mar Roxas told journalists last night that the Senate voted unanimously to pass the biofuels bill that would require all liquid fuels for motors and engines sold in the Philippines to contain locally-sourced biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.

The bill contains the following measures:
  • within two years after the bill's acceptance (end 2008), all gasoline in the country will contain 5% locally produced ethanol
  • a minimum of one percent biodiesel by volume blended into all diesel fuels sold in the country subject to domestic supply and availability of locally sourced biodiesel
  • a guarantee that the feedstocks used for ethanol and biodiesel production is sourced locally to protect local farmers
  • a guarantee mechanism making sure that supply of sugar for food needs is protected
Zubiri, who authored the House version of the biofuels bill, told the DAILY STAR that a bicameral conference committee will be convened to reconcile the provisions of both the House and Senate versions and he expects a biofuels law to be in place by November. Solons from the sugar block, like Rep. Monico Puentevella and Rep. Jose Carlos Lacson will join the House team in the bicameral conference committee, he said.

Immediately after the signing of the biofuels bill into law by the president, Zubiri said he expects 12 ethanol plants to be built in various parts of the country:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

On top of bioethanol plant being built in San Carlos City in Negros Occidental, Zubiri said he expects five other such plants to rise on Negros Island and two are being planned for Cebu. This is great for the country's sugar producers, he said.

He said with sugar prices having dropped to 10 cents per pound in the world market or Pesos 570 to Pesos 600 per 50 kilobag, that would kill local sugar producers, and the biofuels bill will save them.

"The sugar producers will not only survive, they will flourish," he said.

"Within two years of the law's effectivity, at least five percent bioethanol shall comprise the total volume of gasoline fuel actually sold and distributed in the country, subject to the requirement that all bioethanol blended gasoline shall contain a minimum of five percent bioethanol fuel by volume," according to Senate Bill 2226, which Malacañang certified as urgent in March this year.

The measure also provides that immediately upon effectivity, "a minimum of one percent biodiesel by volume shall be blended into all diesel engine fuels sold in the country subject to domestic supply and availability of locally sourced biodiesel component."

Violators will be penalized with one to five years imprisonment and a fine ranging from P1 million to P5 million, according to the bill.

The bill is designed to reduce the country's dependence on imported fuel, the price of which have been volatile in the world market, and also seeks to protect health and environment.


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