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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, April 07, 2006

Nigeria to create 1 million jobs in biofuels sector

From the wetland of Ringim in Jigawa State, to the highly fertile but inaccessible area of Baturiya at Yobe State boarder, something great is happening. The land, cutting across over 10 local government areas is marked for the first phase of Jigawa State sugar cane/ethanol project. It is an ambitious agricultural cum industrialisation project that is expected to provide at least one million jobs. Already, graders, tractors and other related equipment have been mobilised to the site. Water is running through newly built channels. And farmers are doing what they know best: planting sugar cane, which would be instantly purchased from them immediately after harvesting. The choice of sugar cane for the area, which is also suitable for rice production, was as a result of large population of birds that can be destructive to grain production like rice.

Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Saminu Turaki, who is the initiator of the N400 billion project, believes that it would not only revolutiionalise agriculture but it would affect the economic fortune of the entire state positively.

"All my projects are important to me because they are all about economic development. When we started industrialisation in 1999, we took agriculture to Hadejia and that has now brought the ethanol project, which has 300,000 hectares. We took commerce to Gumel and now we have free trade zone. We have Information Communication Technology in Kazaure," said the youthful governor in an interview with This Day shortly after inspecting the project.

To Turaki, the strategy is to ensure even development of the state:
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"We are working hard on the ethanol project to eradicate poverty as well as malaria eradication programme," he added. But why ethanol project since Nigeria is an oil producing country? "Nigeria is an oil importing country. Every year we spend billions of naira importing and subsidising oil. With the ethanol project the money goes into our palms not outsiders. By so doing, we are creating wealth in the society," he explained.

But that was not all. How can the gigantic project be financed? Again, Turaki didn't have any difficulty dealing with that. "I think it is a matter of planning. We do long-term planning in Jigawa State and that has helped us a lot. Our budget is always 70 per cent capital and 30 per cent recurrent. And we have financial discipline as well."

Interestingly, the state would not be left with the burden of developing the project alone as the Federal Government has since directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to discuss with the state government as regards investing heavily in it. This is in addition to expected private sector investment that

The Federal Government THISDAY gathered, is to establish additional 12 sugar factories in the state, to be complementing each other when the programme has fully taken off.

The state government, which has already commenced construction of a 1, 500 tones per day capacity sugar factory at Hadejia at the cost of N4 billion, has advanced in the structural aspect of the sugar factory. This reporter was among several others that accompanied the governor to the site recently for inspection.

President Olusegun Obasanjo has already given directive to Dr. Edmund Daukoru, Minister of State for Petroleum, to liaise with the state government to prepare ground for the launching of the programme in Hadejia this month.

Ethanol, which is a combustible chemical, is used as fuel component and is extracted from sugar cane. Its commercial production is being pursued by the Jigawa State Governmnt since Turaki became governor.

He said his prerogative is to ensure that the state gets an economic base that can lift the people from their current economic status to that of buoyancy.

Ethanol is becoming an apparent substitute to crude petroleum oil the world over, especially as it is efficient, non-toxic and environment friendly. Research revealed that it has been used by humans since prehistory as the intoxicating ingredient in alcoholic beverages. Dried residues on 9,000-year-old pottery found in northern China imply the use of alcoholic beverages even among Neolithic peoples. Its isolation as a relatively pure compound was first achieved by Islamic alchemists who developed the art of distillation during the Muslim Abbasid Caliphate, the most notable of whom was Al-Razi. The writings attributed to Jabir Ibn Hayyan (Geber) (721-815) mentions the flammable vapors of boiled wine.

Absolute ethanol, however, was first obtained in 1796 by Johan Tobias Lowitz, by filtering distilled ethanol through charcoal.

Thus with efforts that the world is making in providing an alternative to petroleum, it is heartwarming that the Jigawa State Government is thinking ahead. It is more interesting if it is viewed from the fact that the northern part of the country would complement the south in providing source of energy for local consumption.

At this moment when the nation is in dire need of diversification of sources of revenue, the story of Jigawa State Government's sugar cane/ethanol project is indeed a cheering one. Nigeria has, over the years relied on its oil endowment for virtually everything. Other important sectors like agriculture have been neglected. Today, many believe that oil is more of a curse than a blessing to the country. The Federal Government is still searching for solution to the crisis in the oil-rich Niger Delta part of the country. Ironically, Nigeria is still a fuel-importing nation despite being the 6th largest exporter of crude oil.

Thus it is in this light that all and sundry should welcome a major diversification effort like the Jigawa State project. Imagine an agricultural project that is capable of providing at least one million jobs for the people. Imagine a 300,000 hectares of land that was being under-utilised now cultivated using modern techniques of farming. Then imagine sugar processing plants and ethanol manufacturing industries located across 300 kilometers of rural land. Finally imagine the multiplier effects of all these projects.

Already the people of this area have started benefiting from the project. There are roads that are either constructed or are being being constructed. For instance, from the riverrine area of Ringim there is now a newly constructed road that links the people to Dutse, the state capital. Hitherto a long detour had to be taken to reach the state capital. Successive governments never thought of doing that probably because of the high cost of constructing road in that waterlogged area. "I am very happy," Turaki said, pointing at a village. "You can see there is a lot of fish here but nobody would want to come here before to buy. Now these people will witness a boom. They are no longer cut from the rest of the society."

But who can be happier than the communities that live around Baturiya area. Even with American built four-wheel drive vehicles a driver must entertain some fear when he set out for the area. The road is now under construction. With the road construction and sugar cane project around this area the people could certainly not ask for more.

This Day (Lagos), via AllAfrica: Nigeria: Jigawa's Ethanol Project - Alternative to Oil?

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Ethanol dazzles Wall Street, White House - the other side of the pond is "excited" too

Bioenergy and biofuels are top of the agenda, in North America too. Suffice to refer to one article, in which you will notice the words "big business", "bullish sector" and "stunning developments". When Americans start using superlatives, a case for business has been made:

A tractor trailer rig rumbles into the Tall Corn Ethanol plant. Corn pours from openings in its belly to bins underground, where conveyor belts and buckets haul it to gleaming steel silos rising 13 stories above the Iowa plains.
The 40-acre distillery turns corn into alcohol in quantities that would make a moonshiner drool. Instead of white lightnin', the brew is converted to ethanol, a fuel that makes money for farmers and is seen as a possible solution to today's high oil and gas prices.

Like the other modern-day stills dotting the Midwestern landscape, the Coon Rapids plant reached capacity soon after opening — within 12 days, to be precise.

Ethanol production in the United States is growing so quickly that for the first time, farmers expect to sell as much corn this year to ethanol plants as they do overseas.

"It's the most stunning development in agricultural markets today — I can't think of anything else quite like this," says Keith Collins, the U.S. Agriculture Department's chief economist.

The amount of corn used for ethanol, estimated at 2.15 billion bushels this year, would amount to about 20 percent of the nation's entire crop, according to department projections.

Even as ethanol devours corn and pushes prices higher, the president and Congress are calling for even greater ethanol use. Wall Street cannot seem to get enough of ethanol-related investments. Automakers are speeding ethanol-capable vehicles onto the road.

Yet the ethanol industry is not without its critics, who question whether tax incentives provided by Congress are really needed.

The enthusiasm for ethanol makes farmer Lynn Phillips want to grow more corn. Phillips helped raise the money for the farmer-owned Tall Corn plant, which opened in 2002 as a way to make more money by processing every kernel of locally grown corn.

"We saw train cars after train cars of raw material being shipped away and value being added somewhere else," said Phillips. Now, the corn "is still going out on train cars — it's just going out in the form of ethanol and distillers' grain."

Corn can cost more to grow because it needs heavy applications of fertilizer. Right now, Phillips plants corn on about half his 2,000 acres and soybeans on the rest.

Inside the ethanol plant, corn is ground and mixed with water to make mash. It is heated and mixed with enzymes to convert starch into sugar and fermented with yeast to make alcohol — just like making moonshine. Hanging in the air around the 500,000-gallon fermenting tanks is the smell of sweet, white wine.

The mixture is kept just below 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Yeast seem happier below that temperature, general manager Owen Shunkwiler hollers over the hum. Shunkwiler works for South Dakota-based Broin Companies, which invested in Tall Corn and is responsible for its operations.

After fermentation, the mixture is boiled to remove water, then dehydrated to boost the alcohol content. Before leaving the plant, a denaturant, or poison, is added to make the alcohol unfit for drinking. Then the ethanol is ready for shipping to fuel storage terminals that will blend it with gasoline as it goes into trucks for distribution to gas stations.

Also yielded in the process is livestock feed. Corn kernels minus the starch are left over — think South Beach for cows. Every 56-pound bushel makes about 17.4 pounds of grain feed, according to the Agriculture Department.

Tall Corn produces 150,000 gallons of ethanol each day, enough to power an estimated 272 cars for an entire year if they ran on ethanol alone.

But automobiles do not run on pure ethanol. Instead, ethanol is combined with unleaded gasoline to boost its octane rating and reduce emissions.

The most common blends are 10 percent ethanol, approved for any make or model sold in the U.S., or 85 percent ethanol, known as E-85 and used in specially made flexible fuel vehicles. About 5 million vehicles in the U.S. can run on E-85; more are in production.

In Iowa in April, regular unleaded gasoline was selling for $2.71, E-10 for $2.65 and E-85 for $2.33.

With demand comes expansion. In Iowa alone, three new ethanol plants opened last month. The industry likely will outpace a mandate from Congress to pump out 7.5 billion gallons a year by 2012, according to Collins.

Meanwhile, lawmakers envision vastly more ethanol in the nation's automobiles. Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., are pushing to require 60 billion gallons of ethanol and soy-based biodiesel by 2030.

An expansion that big would require sources for ethanol besides corn. Ethanol is made from sugar cane in Brazil, which meets about half its fuel demand with ethanol. Sorghum, another feed grain, accounts for about 3 percent of U.S. ethanol, according to the Agriculture Department.

Research is under way on other potential sources, such wood fibers and residue from crop harvesting.

The big question is whether oil and gas will remain expensive.

"When the price of anything gets high enough, then all kinds of substitutes come out of the closet," Collins said. "That's what's going on now. As long as the price of oil stays high, where ethanol is profitable, this industry is going to keep growing."


On the Net:

Renewable Fuels Association: http://www.ethanolrfa.org

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association: http://www.iowarfa.org/

Broin Companies: http://www.broin.com

Agriculture Department: http://www.usda.gov

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