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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, December 01, 2006

Europe to cooperate with Brazil to produce ethanol in Africa

Via EthanolBrasil, a new blog tracking bioenergy developments in Latin America's leading economy: according to [*Portuguese] Brazil's ex-minister of agriculture, Roberto Rodrigues, the governments of the Netherlands and the UK will be financing ethanol production projects in Africa, and rely on Brazilian technology and expertise to do so. This is a classic example of how so-called 'South-North-South' exchanges can unlock Africa's biofuels potential. Rodrigues speaks in his function as the coordinator of the recently established Centro de Agronegócio [*Portuguese, *.pdf] (created by the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, Brazil's leading social science foundation), which has taken up bioenergy as one of its main research areas.

Interestingly, the European governments in question are not taking the easiest route because they want to support the development of biofuels in some of the continent's poorest and most troubled countries. Rodrigues says that with aid of these governments, war-torn Sudan will be one of the first countries to be invited to Brazil on a mission to learn about ethanol technologies and production strategies.

The Centro de Agronegócio wants to become a leading consulting organisation and will be networking in the Global South to spread Brazilian knowledge and experience with biofuel production. The Fundação Getúlio Vargas had already established a large body of expertise in the sector, but is now concentrating it in a 'biofuels intelligence centre'.

Brazil's experts and interests
The center - which cooperates both with academia and with leading enterprises - will offer an integrated approach to South-South exchanges and bioenergy technology transfers. It is being supported by the Interamerican Development Bank. Rodrigues: "We have 310 ethanol plants in Brazil and 160 under construction. We are going to need many qualified professionals. After their experience in Brazil, these professionals will carry the technology forward in the developing world. The Centro de Agronegócio will also become a leading meeting place for international negotiations and debates on bioenergy, Rodrigues adds.

The ex-minister explains that it is in Brazil's very own interest that ethanol becomes a globally traded commodity. "Currently there is no real global trade in ethanol, because there is only one real exporter of the product. It is crucial that other countries start producing the fuel as well, so that producing countries can trade their excess and sell to non-producers". Other countries that can't implement large biomass programs or that don't have enough land, like India and China, will gladly become importers of ethanol that can be produced economically and efficiently elsewhere, Rodrigues says.

Currently, Brazil and the United States are the world's major ethanol producers. The US uses maize as its main feedstock. Because of the low energy yield of this crop, the US will never become a biofuel exporter. This is why the US is already beginning to implement ethanol projects abroad, in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Colombia, Rodrigues says. According to the ex-minister, the US has set its eyes on Africa and Asia as well. But the EU might become the biggest biofuel investor in the South:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Rodrigues is in the know about the fact that the governments of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have already spoken with Luís Carlos Guedes Pinto, Brazil's current Minister of Agriculture, about creating joint projects for the production of ethanol in Africa.

On another note, Rodrigues and Guedes agree that Brazil can double its ethanol output in ten years by dedicating another 3 million hectares of land to sugarcane. Yet another 3 million hectares will be devoted to the production of raw sugar. According to Guedes, it will even be possible to triple the country's ethanol output "without cutting down a single tree".

The current minister replies to the bad press Brazil is receiving over its agricultural policies. According to Guedes, a study of Embrapa [a leading agronomy research organisation], Brazil currently has 69,5% of its original ecosystems intact, whereas Europe holds only 0.3%. "The territory that has conserved its ecosystems better than any other on this planet, is Brazil", Guedes stresses.

More information:
the Centro de Agronegócio will be integrated in the Escola de Economia de São Paulo da FGV. Besides aiming to become a leading bioenergy consulting body, its actions will focus on networking with other organisations, creating an exchange platform on agronomy and bioenergy, organising advanced courses, and distributing information to larger audiences.

ANBA: Europeus querem produzir etanol com o Brasil na África - November 29, 2006

The new expert blog on Brazil's bioenergy developments: EthanolBrasil.

The Fundaçao Getúlio Vargas.

Presentation of the newly established Centro de Agronegócio, at the Escola de Economia de São Paulo.


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