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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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Monday, December 11, 2006

Punjab's bioenergy potential from agricultural waste estimated at 1000MW; major investments being made

The Indian state of Punjab, in the arid Northwest of the country, is the most celebrated symbol of the Green Revolution's success. Four decades ago, it was a dry, dead-poor, semi-desert region. But heavy investments in agricultural technologies, infrastructures, extension services, education and 'revolutionary' seeds, have resulted in the state becoming India's largest agricultural producer. India has gone from a food-deficit to a food-surplus country largely because of the agricultural transformation of Punjab. (Some think the revolution has now turned sour, but that is another matter).

Punjab is the breadbasket of India, which also means it produces vast amounts of waste biomass, which could potentially be used as a bioenergy feedstock. In a recent proposal submitted to the state government, the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) observed that at present, most of these agricultural residues are burnt in the open air, on the fields, leading both to pollution and contributing considerably to climate change. Moreover, valuable energy contained in this biomass is wasted in the process.

The PEDA now estimates that if Punjab were to use the residues in highly-efficient, modern bioenergy systems (such as combined heat -and-power plants) more than 1000MW of energy could be generated from this 'waste' biomass alone.

Punjabis are India's largest energy consumers, with some 790KWh per year per person, against an Indian average of 283KWh per person (Punjab state gov't). Still, compared to Western standards, this is very modest (compare with for example France, where per capita consumption stands at 7584KWh per annum). The 1000MW of power from biomass could satisfy the energy needs of some 8 to 16 million Punjabis (low number if inefficient technologies are used; high number when CHP plants are used).

PEDA thinks the generation of energy from agro-wastes available in Punjab does not only hold a theoretical potential; it could prove to be a cost-effective option as well. It would positively impact "energy conservation, social hygiene, employment generation and women’s health". When comparing fossil fuels and biofuels, all these factors have to be taken into account. In the end, biomass beats oil and coal.

Concrete projects
This is why several bioenergy projects are now underway in the Punjab. The aim is to initiate a decentralised, renewable and clean energy paradigm in the state:
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PEDA, a Punjab-government-run agency, has executed a small waste-to-energy power project with a 1MW capacity, while private developers have set up four biomass and co-generation projects with a total capacity of 21.9MW, also utilising agricultural residues.

Under a special program aimed at decentralising energy production, the government agency has also commissioned eight 'mini and micro' bio-power projects with a total generation capacity of 9.8MW, while private developers have set up ten such projects with a total capacity of 13.65MW.

Cooperation with Japan
Another 57 biomass, co-generation and small hydro projects are under execution, with a projected total capacity of 187.25MW. PEDA has sought soft-loan funding from the Japanese government through the department of economic affairs, Ministry of Finance. A team of senior officials from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation visited Punjab recently on an information-gathering mission.

Peda director S. S. Sekhon said that under the soft-loan scheme of Japan Bank, the agency would set up ten biomass projects in the state at a cost of around 450 crore rupiah (€76/US$100 million). Of this, 405 crore rupiah, or 90%, would come from the Japan Bank and the Punjab government would share the remaining Rs 45 crore.

These biomass projects will generate an additional capacity of 100mw, which will be harnessed in the next five years—2007 to 2012.

More information:
Comparison of Punjab's renewable energy potential with that of India as a whole, at the PEDA website.


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