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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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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Partners4Africa: EU Energy Initiative for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development

The EU's Partners4Africa project is supported by the European Commissions' Sixth Framework Programme for research and technical development, and aims to support and stimulate the activities of the EU Energy Initiative for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development. Partners for Africa works to create and support partnerships for institutional capacity building and technical assistance in Sustainable Energy, most notably biofuels and bioenergy.

The objective of the project is to demonstrate the role of renewable energy in poverty eradication and to offer support to policy making activities in the following areas:

* Sustainable resource management
* Health and public health
* Enterprise development

Find out more at the Partners4Africa website.

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Biofuels and bioenergy crops require fertilizers: we now know how much - study

In light of the very important "Africa Fertilizer Summit" [earlier post] which is taking place as we write this, it might be interesting to point out that biofuels and bioenergy crops too require the chemical powders to grow. We now know how much. The IEA's Bioenergy Task 40 - which studies future bioenergy trade and potential - has produced a study which makes global projections about these requirements over the long term. The study accompanies the major bioenergy potential assessment which the same taskforce produced earlier and about which we reported.

In this study by Smeets and Faaij, an assessment is made of the future demand of fertilizers from bioenergy crop production. A representative sample of various assessments on the contribution of bioenergy is derived from literature. The projections are translated into fertilizer demand, assuming that all bioenergy is produced from dedicated woody bioenergy crops. The amount of nutrients in the harvested biomass is used as a proxy for the fertilizer demand.

The full paper can be found here: smeetsfuturedemandforfertilizerfrombioenergycr.pdf [45 KB]
The corresponding Excel-datafile can be downloaded here: smeetsfertilizerdemand.zip [1.138 KB]

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France signs biofuel cooperation pact with Brazil, Caribbean and Africa

During his recent visit to Brazil, president Jacques Chirac did the right thing: he signed a biofuel and bioenergy cooperation pact with president Lula, focussing on biomass production in Africa and the Caribbean.
Brazil and France are to spread the technical and scientific expertise to Africa and Latin America in a real "trilateral" program, where South-South exchanges are to get priority.
The two presidents will formally present their agreement at the July G8 Summit in Saint-Petersburg, where energy will be high on the agenda.
Jornal Documento reports that France and Brazil have further signed a Convention for the creation of a grand project that will work towards sustainable forestry in Brazil, and have created a Franco-Brazilian working group for the environment, with priority given to studying the ecological complexity of bioenergy projects.

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Biofuel Super Powers (part I): the Democratic Republic of the Congo

This is the first in our series focusing on the biofuel super powers of the future. Bioenergy and biofuels promise to change the geopolitics of energy in the 21st century. Because of their geographic location, land resource base, demographic make-up or climate, a select group of countries will soon be able to claim "Green OPEC" membership status.
Brazil is obviously the first country that comes to mind. And indeed, in a recent interview, president Lula da Silva in no uncertain terms already used the word "super power" in this precise context.

But before we analyse the obvious case of Brazil, we focus on a less well-known country with a similarly impressive bioenergy potential: the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

According to the experts at the IEA Bioenergy Task 40, Central-Africa has the world's largest biomass production potential. Task 40 created an impressive series of projections to assess the long term bioenergy production potential in different regions.
Under the most optimistic scenario, Central-Africa would be able to produce around 450 Exajoules of bioenergy per year. Consider that the world currently consumes 430 Exajoules of energy (that is energy from all sources: nuclear, oil, gas, coal, and renewables). In short, Central-Africa's potential is huge. In the study, Latin America comes in second, with a capacity of around 350 Exajoules.

[more soon]

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Experts meet to boost African farm yields

Here at the BioPact we have stated many times that helping developing countries to become biofuels and bioenergy producers may simultaneously help boost their overall agricultural output. A positive synergy must be developed between, on the one hand, agricultural outreach aimed at enhancing food security and better farming practises amongst African rural communities, and on the other hand, bioenergy outreach towards these same communities.
In this light, it is interesting to follow the developments at the big "Africa Fertiliser Summit", where 500 experts are addressing ways to increase Africa's agricultural output. As some readers may know, fertilizer use in sub-Saharan Africa is almost non-existent. The region has a tremendous biomass production potential, but if we want to exploit it sustainably, it will be crucial for us to introduce the use of intensive agricultural techniques rather than traditional extensive (slash and burn) techniques.

African leaders, farmers and international agriculture experts have met here to discuss soil degradation and food shortages in the world's poorest continent.

The African Fertiliser Summit, which began here with a two-day technical session, was being attended by some 500 delegates from across the world, including over a dozen donor agencies as well as ministers, farmers and farmers' organisations.

The theme of the summit, which runs to June 13, is "Nourish the soil, feed the continent".

In his opening remarks, Nigerian Agriculture Minister Adamu Bello urged participants to evolve strategies that would boost food production in Africa, where some 200 million people are affected by food shortages.

"Africa is lagging behind other continents in agricultural production ... and has the largest level of malnutrition in the world," he said Friday.

Rosebud Kurwijila of the African Union Commission said the aim of the conference was to "address the African fertiliser crisis and to build consensus ... to make fertiliser affordable in Africa".

"Africa needs to address this fertiliser crisis in all its ramifications and in a holistic manner," she added.

Garry Toenniessen of the American-based Rockefeller Foundation said African farmers had "great need" for fertiliser which could help reverse soil degradation.

"This summit is just a beginning. The real impact will be in implementation," he said.

The summit, an initiative of the AU, is sponsored by more than a dozen international organisations and donor agencies, including the International Fund for Agricultural Development,
World Bank, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Rockefeller Foundation.

It aims to increase awareness of the role fertiliser can play in stimulating sustainable productivity growth in African agriculture and to discuss fertiliser use by small-scale African farmers.

In a video-taped speech, former US president Jimmy Carter expressed regret that "although Africa has some of the highest fertility rates in the world, per capita food production has dropped".

"We need to do more. While African nations work to slow population growth, the agricultural sector must increase its productivity quickly, with an emphasis on biotechnology and soil fertility," he said.

Carter warned that "if soil erosion and nutrient loss continue at the current rate, crop yields in Africa will decline by as much as 30 percent by 2020".

"Meanwhile, Africa's population will increase from today's 750 million to 1.1 billion people," he said.

"Without progress in incresaing soil fertility, hunger will be a constant companion of Africa and a potential cause of conflict."

Nobel peace prize laureate Norman Borlaug, considered the father of the 'green revolution' in agriculture, challenged African leaders to copy Asia by adopting biotechnology to boost agricultural production.

In a provocative speech which drew a standing ovation, the 92-year-old expert in wheat improvement said consumption of fertiliser nutrients in African countries was very low compared to Asia and Europe.

"Africa has the potental to irrigate 20 percent of its arable land but only four percent is currently irrigated," he said.

He said that the "political risks" that Asian leaders took to increase agricultural production were lacking in African leaders.

"Do we have two or three African leaders that can make the change in policy by adopting the available technological and scientific approach?" he asked.

"You cannot build peace on empty stomachs and misery," he concluded.


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