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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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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Philippines invests $65 million in jatropha and biogas for poverty alleviation

The government of the Philippines has announced it will establish a US$65 million biofuel infrastructure project in line with its efforts to ease the country’s dependence on crude oil importation.

The project is a follow up and in support to the launching activity last August which encourages the cultivation of 'tuba-tuba' (jatropha curcas) in idle lands especially military camps all over the country.

Tuba-Tuba or 'kasla' is a drought resistant shrub with an economic life of 35 years and that can be grown in sandy, gravelly, and salty soils. Its seeds can be processed to produce oil that can then be converted into biodiesel. In Capiz, the Philippine Army's 3rd Infantry Division military camp is eyed by the Regional Development Council (RDC) as a jatropha plantation site during the recent visit of RDC Chair and Antique Governor Salvacion Perez in the area.

The government is also supporting the Philippine Forest program that seeks to develop jatropha plantations and the Green Renewable Independent Power Producer (GRIPP) project for biogas, which is a program funded by the European Union - ASEAN Energy Facility, accross South-East Asia.

The propagation of kasla will also be introduced to farmers nationwide to venture on the idea which may help them earn extra income:
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"Pro-poor development programs will continue to be pushed by the government consistent with its level of determination to fight poverty,” said a Malacañang statement.

Also, "the Department of Finance (DOF) plans to source out micro-finance projects directly and solely to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) since the latter is in the best position to reach out to the poorest and neediest of the citizenry," the statement added.

In another development, Rep. Juan Miguel Zubiri is pushing for the passage of biofuels bill in the Senate before the Congress takes a break on October 14.

Zubiri, who authored the House version of the bill, said in a press statement he hopes that the senators will finally agree on their version soon so it can be reconciled with the congressmen's version in the bicameral conference.

The plenary debate has reportedly been delayed by differences among senators on the tax breaks to be granted to biofuel producers.

Zubiri said that "at least a dozen investors" are waiting to invest billions of pesos for factories that would produce biofuels, the statement added.

Based on the report of Biofuel Alliance, six firms are in the "exploratory stage of venturing into ethanol projects."

Two foreign companies "interested in producing cocodiesel are keenly watching the crafting of the regulatory framework before finalizing their plans," Zubiri said in the statement.

If these companies decide to invest in the alternative fuels industry, they will join an early bird, the San Carlos ethanol plant in Negros Occidental, he said. The solon said that to attract investors, his version offers "a raft of perks, including tax privileges, to those interested in making cheap, clean, VAT-free gas out of cane and coconut," the statement added.

The biofuels bill, already certified urgent by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, seeks to replace within four years a tenth of national gasoline consumption with ethanol, starting with the "mandatory blending of gasoline with five percent bioethanol" within two years after the approval of the law, it also said. Zubiri said that at this rate of "fossil fuel displacement," the Philippines can save about P40 billion in annual foreign exchange.

The is based on the estimate on the country's daily consumption of 320,000 barrels of oil, at $65 a piece, using a P51 to $1 exchange rate, the statement said.

Zubiri said the country has enough land planted to crops that can guarantee a steady supply of biofuel.

"We have the means to ride on the alternative fuels boom. We have 2.4 million hectares planted to corn, 3.2 million hectares to coconut, 390,000 hectares to sugarcane, 330,000 to cassava and camote," he added in the statement.*

The Philippines recently carried out a successful voluntary tree planting campaign that saw over a million citizens participate. The goal was to plant trees along the country's highways, in order to fight global warming.


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