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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, November 21, 2006

Argentina creates biofuels chamber to boost green fuel development

Argentina is a potential biofuels superpower. Already one of the world's leading agricultural producers, the country recently approved an ambitious piece of legislation on biofuels. The policy work has been remarkable in its comprehensive scope: not only has it resulted in a series of technical and fiscal measures aimed at promoting secure investments in the sector, it also took into account the potential social benefits of a biofuels industry (earlier post).

Now the country's nascent bioenergy sector has created the Argentine Biofuels Chamber (ABC), a professional international trade association that will coordinate and interact with a broad range of cooperators from the public and private sectors as well as academia.

ABC's membership is comprised of foreign and Argentine feedstock and feedstock processor organizations, biofuel suppliers, fuel marketers and distributors, fellow industry associations, and technology providers.

The Argentine biofuel industry is in its infancy and needs to be nurtured to have sound laws enacted and comprehensive information available to all participants.

Hence, ABS's stated goals are:
  • To promote international trade, foreign direct investment and biofuel technology transfers to Argentina;
  • To promote free commerce and efficient markets and the use of ethical standards within the community;
  • Through its activities, to increase economic development in Argentina and well-being of its inhabitants;
  • To develop and strengthen ties between its members and other institutions, both public and private, domestic and foreign; with an eye to developing a world-class biofuels industry second to none in the world.
Launched recently in Buenos Aires, its founding members include US investors looking to break into the booming biofuels industry, European biofuel associations eager to purchase the sector’s output, and international vendors seeking to sell equipment and services:
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Eearlier, Argentina had already signed a biofuel cooperation agreement with Brazil, the regional leader in the field (earlier post), but the ABC tries to take cooperation forward to a more global scale.

Argentina is the third-largest global producer of soybeans, with estimated soybean area and production of 41.3 million metric tons (MMT) and 15.5 million hectares (MHAS) respectively for the marketing year 2006/2007 (MY2006/07), according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

Argentina enthusiastically embraced the use of Genetically Modified Crops (GMO) crops a decade ago, and now upwards of 98% of the country’s soybean production is GMO. Argentina is the world’s second largest producer of GMO crops after the United States.

Glyphosate-tolerant (“Roundup-Resistant”) soybeans were the first GMO crop introduced into Argentine agriculture. The rate of adoption places Argentina second only to the US in the use of this type of soybean.

The current Argentine soybean economy is geared almost entirely towards exports, with only 2% of harvested soybeans reaching the domestic market. Thirty percent is exported as grain and 68 percent is processed by the oilseed industry within Argentina. Ninety-three percent of soybean oil and ninety-nine percent of by-products (meals) are then exported, according to FAS.

Argentina is forecast to supply more than 50% of world soybean oil exports and more than 40% of soybean meal exports in MY2006/07. Major markets will continue to be China and India.

The USDA also estimates Argentina’s sunflower seed production and area at 3.8 MMT and 2.2 MHAS, respectively.

It’s that pool of potential feedstocks that the nascent Argentine biofuels industry would like to tap.


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