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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, December 09, 2006

EU assists Sri Lanka in adopting biofuels; targets 20% by 2020

Under a technical assistance programme sponsored by the European Commission, Sri Lanka's Energy Managers Association (SLEMA) in association with Winrock International India (WII), a non-profit working on natural resource management and energy, have initiated ProBios, a study programme aimed at promoting biofuels in the region of Southern India and Sri Lanka. The ProBios project - Promotion of Biofuels for Sustainable Development in South and South-east Asia [*.pdf] - is part of the EuropeAid's Asia Pro-Eco programme aimed at promoting clean energy and sustainability in South Asia.

The experts of the group have launched a roadmap which proposes five alternative routes to reach a final target of replacing 20% of all liquid fossil fuels by 2020. The team also proposes to increase the blend of biofuels from 10% to 100% as technologies mature. Zero import taxes on 100% biofuel vehicles are also projected as a measure, which will drive this programme forward.

Rural jobs
It is expected that the new industry will provide employment opportunities to rural communities and sound investments opportunities to local business community as the technology is offered in an affordable scale, unlike the traditional petroleum industry which requires major investments, says Professor Priyantha Wijetunga, Director General of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka and Chairman of the SLEMA.

The Biofuel Programme comes at a time where the costs of petroleum fuels have reached historical heights. Sensing the dangers laying ahead, the Sri Lankan government took several initiatives such as National Energy Conservation Programme and the appointment of an Inter-ministerial Working Committee on Biofuels, to fight the rising cost of oil.

Petroleum, a heavy burden on the economy
The ProBios Project aims at developing national and regional capacites to develop biofuels to a level where it is freely availably in commercial quantities. As is the case in most developing countries, the economic context of Sri Lanka makes the development of green fuels an urgent matter, as the country is already spending 1/4th of its total export earnings on importing petroleum products. This is expected to rise to 1/3rd of total export earnings in the event of oil price reaching 100$/bbl:
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The country can take several routes in developing biofuels with two main paths being envisaged, based on biofuel crops for ethanol (sugarcane) and for biodiesel (oil seed plantations).

The ProBios Project looks at South American industrial giant Brazil as an example to follow. This country has succeeded in substituting more than a third of its petrol use with ethanol derived from sugarcane.

The land resources required for the ambitious target will be 300,000 hectares of oil seed plantations and 180,000 hectares for sugarcane plantations by 2020. This means a totally new plantation industry, comparable with the traditional export crops of tea, rubber, and coconut. This new industry will engage the rural farming community in an economic activity providing energy not only for the urban industrial sector but also for the attractive export market. Some Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Philippines have already commenced shipment of biofuel to European countries and have even realized Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) funds through such transactions.


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