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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 15, 2006

German Energy Agency: biomass-to-liquids can meet up to 35% of Germany's fuel needs by 2030

According to a long-awaited feasibility study [summary *.pdf/German] on second-generation biofuels, prepared by the Deutsche Energie-Agentur (German Energy Agency), large-scale biomass-to-liquid (BTL) fuel production could meet up to 35% of the country's liquid fuel needs by 2030.

Germany's technical biomass potential is large enough to meet 20% of all fuels. In a scenario where technological advancements and business competition lead to lower costs and more efficient production, and when biomass is imported, BTL-technologies could even meet up to 35% of the country's total liquid fuel needs by 2030. This scenario takes into account that biomass for liquid fuels will compete with biomass for the production of heat, power and green chemicals (such as bioplastics).
So far and for the foreseeable future, biofuels are the only renewable alternative to fossil fuels. They offer an important contribution to energy security, climate protection and create new added value in agriculture. -- Clemens Neumann, director of Renewable Resources in Germany's Ministry of Agriculture.
Biomass supplies and logistics
The foundations have now been laid for the creation of a large-scale biomass-to-liquids industry in Germany, says Stephan Kohler, head of the German Energy Agency. A BTL-plant with a capacity to transform up to 1 million tons of biomass per annum was taken as the concept guiding the study. The study estimates that in such an optimally scaled plant, one liter of BTL-fuel would cost under 80 €urocents (US$3.98/gallon). (Interestingly, this cost is well above first-generation biofuels produced in the South.)

The report further indicates that secure biomass supplies are of crucial importance for the BTL-industry to take off. The researchers created five scenarios based on five technology development tracks, and five locations where the 1 million tonne plant might be located (Gelsenkirchen, Heilbronn, Leuna, Ludwigshafen, Wismar). These locations differ considerably when it comes to their local biomass potential (either from agriculture or from forestry) as well as to their infrastructure (one of them is a sea-port, another one is located alongside a main waterway and the others are located inland). In all five scenarios, the BTL-plant can be supplied smoothly, either by relying on local biomass, or by importing it from abroad. The research showed beneficial synergies between BTL-fuel production and existing petro-chemical industries (in the case of the sea-port location).

Contrary to biodiesel, BTL-technologies allow for the use of many different sources of biomass, be they wood and forestry residues or industrial and municipal waste, and of course dedicated energy crops. It is estimated that, on average, 4000 liters BTL-fuel per hectare can be obtained:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Different bioconversion methods have been tested in several pilot projects. In all of them, the biomass is first converted into synthesis gas. This gas is then purified and in a next step liquefied via a Fischer-Tropsch process.

Today's technologies are mature enough to be commercialised on a large scale. But increased research and technology efforts and experience with pilot plants show that there is still considerable room for efficiency increases, cost reductions and risk mitigation.

Earlier, the German federal government issued itself an ambitious biofuels target: by 2015, 8% of the country's liquid fuels must be derived from biomass. Biofuels of the second generation, such as the synthetic fuels derived from BTL-processes, will take up an ever greater share:

"BTL shows itself to be one of the most promising renewable energy technologies for liquid fuels. Because of their great potential to reduce CO2 emissions and their great efficiency, BTL-fuels will contribute considerably to reducing the climate change impact of the transport sector", says Dr. Thomas Schlick, director of the Verbandes der Automobilindustrie (German Car Industry Association).

Because BTL-fuels are entirely compatible with current and future engines, they can be used without the need for technical adaptations. This is why car manufacturers have been supporting research and development into biomass-to-liquid technologies for years. "The results of the present study show that the German car industry has bet on the right horse, when it decided to support BTL-efforts", adds Schlick.

Likewise political leaders now have anchor points with which they can craft a legislative and fiscal regime that will stimulate investments into the technology. "The existing tax incentives for BTL-fuels valid to 2015 are of key importance, but they do not suffice yet. The time horizon for the incentives has to be stretched well beyond 2015", says Kohler.

More information:
Deutsche Energie-Agentur: BTL-realisirungsstudie: Neue Biokraftstoffe haben großes Potenzial - Dec. 14, 2006

Deutsche Energie-Agentur: Summary of the Report [*.pdf / German]


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