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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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Friday, November 17, 2006

South-South cooperation: Indian government provides $250 million for West-Africa's Biofuels Fund

In an interesting example of South-South exchanges on biofuels, the Indian Government has provided US$250 million to the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) for the establishment of a fund to promote biofuels in the West Africa sub-region. Ghana's Prof. Dominic Fobih, the Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, made the announcement at the end of a two-day international workshop on financing biofuels projects in West-Africa, held in Accra earlier this week (earlier post). India had already closed a bioenergy cooperation agreement with Senegal earlier this year (earlier post), but is now stepping up its involvement in the region.

In addition, a number of bilateral and multilateral forms of support is to be offered by donor countries for disbursement to farmers through the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) to enable farmers to experiment in the cultivation of Jatropha curcas, a shrub used to produce biofuels.

Minister Fobih said the resources pooled at the conference would help countries and governments in the sub-region to adapt strategies to exploit the full potential of biofuels. He said EBID would play a significant role in the development of the renewable fuels in collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development(UNCTAD).

Mr Bashiru Ifo, Managing Director of EBID, said the bank, in conjunction with commercial banks and other financial institutions, as a first step, would be financing a project costing US $35 million for the production of biodiesel in Ghana. He stated that the bank ultimately hoped to contribute as efficiently as possible to fighting unemployment and poverty throughout West-Africa by strengthening the economic and social benefits of biofuels:
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He said the bank was supporting the initiative taken by some member states such as Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal in accordance with the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol, to reduce the greenhouse gas effect from 2008 to 2012.

He added that EBID would foster private and public partnership to develop biofuels from Jatropha through the financing of both agricultural and industrial production.

The Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, who addressed the closing ceremony, said the need for alternative sources of energy became evident during the first energy crisis of the 1970s and that the significant macro-economic gains which the country had recorded during the past six years stood the risk of being nullified through the increasing cost of crude oil in recent times.

The Vice-President said the gains included a phenomenal lowering of inflation from over 50 per cent in 2001 to a single digit approximately, by the end of 2006.

He said this feat and associated benefits were quickly erased by the steep rise in crude oil prices on the world market at the beginning of this year.

He said Ghana was, therefore, determined to develop renewable energy as an alternative source to crude oil.

Alhaji Aliu Mahama said the government’s policy was to support all viable private sector initiatives, that was why it had so far encouraged the development of Jatropha, which was a private sector initiative in the country.


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