<body> -------------------
Contact Us       Consulting       Projects       Our Goals       About Us
home » Archive » Bioenergy_economics
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

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Grass-based biogas and fuel pellets much more efficient than biodiesel, ethanol

Canadian renewable energy researchers are following in the footsteps of their European collegues by focusing efforts on using grass species for the production of biogas and solid biofuels that can be used as a transport fuel and for electricity production. According to the researchers, this offers a much more efficient bioenergy production path. In Europe, several experiments are already underway aimed at producing biogas from dedicated herbaceous energy crops (earlier post), such as sudan grass, sorghum and new hybrids. A recent comprehensive well-to-wheel study of more than 70 different fuels and fuel paths carried out by the EU's Joint Research Centre, showed that biogas is both efficient to produce and is the cleanest of all transport fuels (earlier post). Finally, many trials are underway with the production of solid biomass (pellets, briquettes) based on grass species such as Miscanthus giganteus (elephant grass) for the production of electricity through simple combustion (earlier post).

Fuel produced from biomass, like switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), can not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels, but it can do so at a fraction of the cost of ethanol and biodiesel, says Roger Samson of Resource Efficient Agricultural Production (REAP) Canada, a research and international development organization creating ecological solutions for food, fibre and energy production challenges.

Samson made his plea for the use of grass as a biofuel feedstock at a seminar sponsored by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy in Regina. "The opportunity exists to produce gas from grass or pellets from grass and heat buildings or even use it for transport. This (biomass) is a very viable option for the transportation sector".

Yet governments continue to pour millions into subsidies to produce ethanol and biodiesel, which are less energy efficient than biogas produced from switchgrass, said Samson, who's been working in the field of bioenergy development since 1991. "From an energy perspective, it's the wrong thing to do as a main (bioenergy) strategy," Samson said. "The only thing sustaining biofuels like corn-based ethanol or biodiesel are subsidies from the taxpayer.''

Energy balance
Biomass is far more efficient from an energy consumption point of view. Switchgrass pellet fuel has a ratio of energy production to consumption (energy balance) of 14 to 1, compared with only 1.5 to 1 for corn-based ethanol.

Switchgrass loses only five per cent of its energy in conversion to fuel pellets. "The more sophisticated we get in our conversion process," such as converting coal to electricity, the more energy is lost, he added. From an economic perspective, converting switchgrass into pellets and burning them to heat buildings is much more cost-effective than burning ethanol or biodiesel:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

And biomass fuel pellets are also more sustainable than either ethanol or biodiesel in terms of the amount of energy produced relative to an equivalent amount of fossil fuel energy. Samson said a ratio of four-to-one or higher is considered sustainable:

"Anything above four to one is where we should be focusing our resources. Anything below four to one, we should take them off the biofuels roadmap," Samson said. With nearly half the arable land in Canada, Saskatchewan is well-positioned to reap the benefits of this approach to biofuels production, he added.

Paul Jefferson, a research scientist at the Agriculture Canada research centre in Swift Current, said recent studies showed certain types of U.S. switchgrass could be grown in Saskatchewan, but Canadian varieties should be developed for our harsher climate and shorter growing season.

Tropical savannahs
Outside North America, there's a geat opportunity for the production of grass-based biofuels in the tropics and subtropics. The savannahs in this part of the world are the original ecosystem where many of the grasses now used in the North for energy production come from (such as sudan grass and miscanthus).

Tropical grasses grow easily, follow the highly efficient C-4 path of photosynthesis, and have a growing area potentially much larger than that of traditional energy crops (such as soy or palm oil or maize).

So far, there is only one major company involved in growing grass for the production of solid biomass in the tropics (the Biomass Investment Group who's planting miscanthus in the Philippines - earlier post), but as research into this energy production path advances, more initiatives will arise.

Research into large-scale export-oriented bioenergy production in the Global South, shows that such biomass would have to be densified or converted locally (either turned into fuel pellets and briquettes, or thermochemically converted into pyrolysis oil) and then shipped to importers up North. Transport costs are marginal and the fuels would still be considerably less costly than biofuels produced in the North, simply because the agro-ecological circumstances (growing season, land potential, sunshine, rain) are much more favorable for the production of grass based biofuels, than in more temperate climates.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home