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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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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Thai experts call to plant more eucalyptus trees for bio-oil production

Renewable energy experts from Thailand have called [*cache] on the government to expand eucalyptus plantations for production of carbon-neutral and renewable bio-oil, which can be used as a substitute for costly fossil fuels. Nikhom Laemsak, director of Kasetsart University's forestry research centre, said the university had been working with a Canadian firm on setting up a eucalyptus oil production plant after an initial study found that Thailand had the potential to become a bio-oil producer.

Scientist will use the fast pyrolysis process to produce eucalyptus-based biofuel. Fast pyrolysis is a thermochemical bioconversion method in which (renewable) biomass is rapidly heated to 450-600°C in the absence of air. The outcome of the process is bio-oil (70%), char (18%) and bio-gas (12%) (more info at the IEA Bioenergy Task 34 on fast pyrolysis, at the Pyrolysis Network - a global network of researchers and developers of fast pyrolysis, or at the EU's broader ThermalNet, researching thermochemical biomass conversion processes such as gasification, direct combustion and pyrolysis).

The economic viability of fast-pyrolysis technologies mainly depends on the cost of the biomass feedstocks. Tropical countries where forest plantations have high yields and grow very fast, have a competitive advantage over more temperate countries where biomass productivity is considerably lower. This is why fast-pyrolysis is an attractive technology for implementation in the Global South. Case-studies show that developing countries (like Mozambique) can produce a huge amount of bio-oil (up to 3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day), export it over vast distances (e.g. to Rotterdam) and still deliver a fuel competitive with petroleum, with a low GHG and a high energy balance. The reason: they have the agro-climatic, land and labor resources to produce biomass feedstocks (such as eucalyptus) at low costs (the Mozambican case-study - *.ppt)

Nikhom Laemsak knows this and wants a first pyrolysis plant to be built in Roi Et province, which has a wide range of eucalyptus plantations. However, he adds that Thailand would need more eucalyptus supplies if it was interested in producing bio-oil on a large-scale and if it wants to tap crucial scale-advantages.

"The plant would require at least 100 tonnes of eucalyptus a day to generate 75,000 litres of bio-oil, which can be used as a substitute for crude oil in electricity generation and vehicle gasoline", he said:
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Thailand had failed to expand eucalyptus plantation areas due to strong opposition from environmentalists and local people, who claimed that the tree contains toxic substances that reduce soil quality and consume large amounts of water, causing dryness in the area.

Currently, most eucalyptus plantations are located in the northeastern provinces of Roi Et, Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakham, Nakhon Ratchasima and Chaiyaphum, and the eastern provinces of Chachoengsao and Prachin Buri.

Mr Nikhom said the idea of producing bio-oil from eucalyptus trees was in line with the government's policy of increasing the use of renewable energy supplies to 4% of the total energy supply.

Renewable energy use currently amounts to only 1.35% of the energy supply, so a bigger push would be needed.

Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, chairman of the Poverty Eradication Centre, who gave an opening speech at the seminar, backed the eucalyptus and bio-oil initiative.

He said commercial forest plantations would not only become a new source of fuel, but also a source of income for poor people, who could work in the plantations and sell trees to the bio-oil plant.


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