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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, November 16, 2006

First edition of the European Development Days kicks off: focus on Africa

The European Union is the world's largest donor of development aid and assistance. But being the biggest is not enough. Efficient aid and appropriate assistance, driven by a genuine commitment of citizens that goes beyond mere 'charity' is far more important. The first edition of the European Development Days (EUDEVDAYS) is exactly aimed at getting the dialogue going on how to achieve a deeper form of cooperation with the global South.

In order to make European citizens feel more committed to engage in a stronger partnership with developing countries and in particular Africa, the EUDEVDAYS organises a series of events aimed at a large public: a youth development prize, an African arts and film festival, and a series of lectures on crucial development topics. Development cooperation is a perfect lever to make young generations of Europeans outward-looking, global citizens aware of the many problems facing people in the South. It also broadens their perspective and allows them to think about global problems in a structural, historical and contextual way.

It is also pivotal for Europe to deliver more, better and faster aid in view of the implementation of the UN's Millennium Development Goals. Bringing all European professionals involved in development together will help to further improve ideas, working methods and delivery. The focus of the EUDEVDAYS is on Africa, the continent that remains trapped in poverty and distress. But the EU is stressing more and more that Africa is also the continent of genuine creativity and potential - perhaps more than any other continent.

Governance key
Poverty reduction requires more than aid money: Africa needs to pursue the strengthening of its governance systems. The Governance Forum (starting today) builds on the European Consensus on Development, through which the Commission, the EU Member States and the European Parliament reaffirmed good governance, democracy and respect for human rights as key pillars of EU development cooperation and a cornerstone of the EU Strategy for Africa.
With this in mind, a series of expert roundtables on governance will be held on topics as diverse as 'State Rehabilitation', 'Improving Governance in the Management of Natural Ressources', 'Environment rights as human rights: A long-term basis to alleviate poverty', 'Consolidation of Social Rights Turning declarations of intent into effective rights', 'Shifting Donor Paradigms' and the 'Role of the Media in Promoting Governance'. Strengthening the 'Voice of Civil Society' and 'Migration and Governance, Moving beyond the security approach' are important roundtable topics as well.

EU-Africa Business Forum
The taboo of the 1990s which held that businesses should stay out of formal development approaches is no longer valid, on the contrary. This is why the EUDEVDAYS organises an important EU-Africa Business Forum, aimed at strengthening private sector development and at encouraging European investors to consider opportunities in Africa (amongst them the bioenergy opportunity):
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The added value of an EU-Africa Business Forum is to give businesses the opportunity to help to shape policies.This forum should be attractive and unique because:

* Of the strong commitment of the EU at the highest level to listen to the private sector and to take into account private sector views and agenda while devising and implementing its own strategies in Africa. It will give the opportunity to influence both European and African public policies in order to improve the business opportunities and the business climate in Africa.

It has the potential to lead to concrete actions on the ground and be instrumental in the increase of much needed investment and private sector growth in Africa.

Objectives of the Forum:

*Influence improvements in the business and investment climate through enhanced governance, capacity building an4d policy coherence in order to render business and investment in Africa easier and more attractive.

*Giving the private sector a voice – the opportunity for dialogue between the private sector, the European Commission and the Commission of the African Union regarding Africa, including on matters concerning EU cooperation policies with the continent and thus indirectly with the African governments and regional organizations with which the Commission maintains a permanent dialogue. Furthermore, our plan is to link the Forum to the EU-Africa Troika meetings as from 2007 (see below in “Linking the Forum to a political event”). It will then be able to make its voice directly heard by other key decision makers from both the EU and Africa.

*Making Africa more attractive for the European private sector to provide a more accurate and positive image of the continent as a place for business and investment.


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