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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 02, 2006

Indonesian state power company to run 114 power plants on biofuels

In an effort to reduce its dependence on expsensive oil, beginning next year Indonesia's state-owned power firm Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) will start using locally produced biofuel to fire 114 small- and medium-scale power plants around the country. PLN chief commissioner Alhilal Hamdi said in Jakarta that the plan had been approved following the success of pilot projects for the use of biofuel in an 11 MW plant in Lampung and a 1.5 MW power plant in Nusa Penida, Bali, earlier this year. "Next year, we will start using biofuel in West Nusa Tenggara, East Nusa Tenggara and South Kalimantan," said Alhilal.

In 2004, PLN generated some 120 TWh of electricity, serving 31,000 households and 2200 businesses and large industries. The bulk of its power is generated from oil, coal and natural gas (see graph).

Pure plant oil
Unlike other power companies who are increasingly using solid biomass (agricultural and forestry) to fuel their electricity generating plants, PLN relies on pure plant oil (PPO). On the sidelines of a media gathering to promote the use of PPO for power generation, Alilhal, who is also the head of the Indonesian government's biofuel development committee, explained the rationale behind it. PPO, made from palm oil, is being used to fire the Lampung power plant. He said that power generated by this plant, which used a blend made up of 80% PPO and 20% diesel, was 300 rupiah (3 US$ cents) per KWh, a third below the average cost of electricity produced from oil-based fuels.

"We hope we can save more using this alternative energy source, and therefore help reduce the government's subvention," Alhilal said. According to a review conducted by the State Ministry for Research and Technology's technological assessment and application agency (BPPT), the government could cut the subsidies it pays to PLN to 2.56 trillion rupiahs per year if greater use were made of PPO. In addition, PPO, which can also be blended with kerosene, could cut the amount the government has to pay on the kerosene subsidy to 1.66 trillion rupiahs per year, the review says.

Unggul Priyanto of the BPPT said that the use of PPO would work out much cheaper than diesel or even biodiesel. "The price of diesel and biodiesel for industrial use stands at about 6,000 rupiah per 1000 liters, while palm oil-based PPO is only 4,300 rupiah. This is why the greater use of PPO could save a lot of money," he said:
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He explained that the cost of PPO was lower as it used nothing except pure vegetable oils, either palm or jathropa oil, without the need for an additional processes or chemical additives, unlike in the case of biodiesel, which required the addition of methanol and glycerin.

Commenting on the question of whether PPO or biodiesel was preferable, Alhilal said that both were alternative energy sources that had important roles to play in helping the country overcome its dependence on oil.

In September, as part of its bioenergy crash program (earlier post) the government pledged to allocate nearly 500,000 hectares of land next year to encourage the development of the country's fledgling biofuel industry.


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