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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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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

First sugarcane ethanol plant for Nigeria

US based company Lemna International has announced it plans to establish a 6.3billion naira (€38/US$50 million) ethanol production plant in eastern Nigeria's Taraba state within the next four months. The plant will use sugarcane as raw material for the ethanol, which is fast becoming the closest alternative to crude oil, as the price of the commodity continues to rise in the international market. Even though Nigeria is a major oil exporter and an OPEC member, its own economy is energy intensive and suffers under high energy prices. Ethanol investments are expected to partly offset this dependency.

Poverty alleviation
Lemna will use sugarcane as a feedstock, to be grown on 30,000 to 50,000 hectares of land. Speaking before a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between the company and the Taraba state government, the firm's president, Viet Ngo, pointed out that the raw material would be produced by local farmers and that the company would pay more for it than what Nigerian sugar producers and consumers are willing to pay. This will translate into higher incomes for the producers of the crop and help in alleviating poverty. The state government is to provide the land, agricultural extension services and some form of 'social co-ordination' (it is unclear what is meant under this term). Nigeria's sugarcane industry is in its infancy, which is why Tabara state wants this project to start under the right conditions:
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No indication was given as to the capacity of the plant, but given the large land base and investment, we estimate that it will be in the order of 200,000 to 250,000 tonnes per year.

Viet Ngo added that, being from Minessota, "we share something with Taraba. We are an agrarian state. Minnesota is the biggest producer of agricultural produce and we are the biggest producers of ethanol in the USA. Taraba state is blessed with abundance of good land. The agricultural output is great but with the need for more fuel, this is a welcome development."

Also speaking before the MOU was signed by the state and the company, Governor of the state, Jolly Nyame said "Today marks an important event in the history of Taraba state. We are happy to associate ourselves with Lemna, a prominent company in the establishment of bio-ethanol plant. It is because of the warm climate in the state that the president has invited people to come and invest in the state." He told Mr. Ngo that "with the signing of this MOU, it is a clear indication that you are welcome to Taraba state."

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has in recent times encouraged the pursuit of alternative and renewable source of energy for the country. The renewable energy division of the corporation said it was working hard to actualize the fuel ethanol program for Nigeria. Engineer Funsho Kupol-okun, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC said early this year that upon the conclusion of rehabilitation works at the Atlas cove and Mosimi depots, its seeding programme for ethanol will commence.

Besides sugarcane, Nigeria is looking into using cassava as an ethanol crop. Nigeria's President, Olesogun Obasanjo, earlier launched a cassava ethanol program aimed at boosting the creation of an industry around the starch rich tuber and at bringing millions of jobs (earlier post). Even though Nigeria has a huge cassava production potential, the lack of both export and local markets keeps this potential untapped. The development of an export-oriented ethanol industry is seen as a way to overcome this problem.

Brazil's successful ethanol program serves as a blueprint for Nigeria's own state-supported initiatives. Both countries are actively cooperating on the matter. Earlier, China also signed a bilateral cooperation agreement with China to promote the production of cassava-ethanol. A first investment by a Chinese firm has been made in the sector (earlier post).


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