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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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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Biorefineries: Denmark global pioneer

Earlier we reported on the concept of integrated biorefineries that crack and fractionate biomass to produce not only liquid biofuels, but a whole range of green specialty products from the biomass that is considered to be "waste" by current standards (see our posts about biorefineries in general, in Europe and in the context of new high-tech, high-value products such as nano-cellulose fibres). Besides more traditional bioconversion techniques (such as fermentation), the fractionation of different biomass substreams will be carried out by specific (engineered) enzymes, microbes, and other micro-organisms, - each uniquely tasked to performing a particular step in the process.

Today our French crew reports that Denmark is making Europe's largest concrete investment (€13.4million + €26,8million from the government) in researching the complex, futuristic concept. Two Danish energy companies (electricity producer ELSAM and Energy E2) are cooperating with the Risø government science-lab to form an alliance that is focussing on producing "Venzine" - (cellulose ethanol). The biomaterials unit will study processes to derive specialty chemicals and products from raw and waste biomass.

The shift to biorefineries is important, since "first generation" biofuels sometimes have a negative (corn) or only marginally positive energy balance. "Second generation" biofuels on the contrary are the result of the processing of an entire biomass stream in which residues are turned into many high value products (from bioplastics to specialty fibres, drugs and molecularly engineered green nano-materials), making the entire process not only more profitable but also more energy efficient.
[entry ends here.]

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France's highly efficient trains to test 100% pure plant oil

France is known for its trains that always arrive on time and for its well organised public transport network. The country's national rail service, SNCF, which makes this happen, now announced that it is about to test two types of biofuels: a mix of 30% rapeseed biodiesel with ordinary diesel (B30), and more spectacularly, two heavily used modern express trains using pure plant oil (not 'B100' but '100% végétale').

This is the first stage in the service's "zéro pétrole" objective, which consists of introducing B30 in 70% of its diesel locomotives, by 2010. To give an idea of how ambitious this target is, we can point out that the SNCF by itself would be using 20% of France's entire rapeseed oil production. (We would obviously prefer it to use tropical jatropha or palm biodiesel).

More info on Univers Nature (french).

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A mysterious tropical ethanol super crop: the Nypa palm

For any biofuels feedstock production project the single most important factor for success is the yield of the energy crop chosen. It is obviously crucial for it to be as high as possible. Some plants are winning the debate, hands down (sugar cane, oil palm, cassava). There is one underutilized and mysterious species of tropical palm though, which holds a lot of promise when it comes to ethanol production in the tropics and which is seldom or never mentioned in the literature. It is Nypa Fruticans, also known as attap chee, nipa or nipah palm or simply as the mangrove palm.
What's so special about this palm? First of all, it produces a vast amount of a sugar rich sap, that can be tapped and is traditionally used to brew alcohol. It's a perfect ethanol feedstock. How much do you ask? Well estimates go up to 20 tonnes of sugar per hectare (8 Mtonnes/acre), compare to sugar cane and sugar beet, which yield roughly half that amount. Since the sugar-rich sap is easily fermentable, up to 90 barrels or 14300 litres of ethanol can be obtained (1530 gallons/acre); compared with sugar cane, this is up to two times more (and compared with corn at 250 gallons/acre, it's roughly 6 times more). Impressive indeed.

The Nypa palm grows naturally in tropical mangrove forests and saltwater swamps, in the zone where sweet and salt water mix. There it is dominant and vast stretches of mangrove consist of the single species. It is very prolific in mangroves and coastal swamps of Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, and has invaded African shores as well, most notably the Niger Delta (See: FAO: Aquatic Plant Resources of Nigeria).
Many of the palm's products are traditionally used by coastal communities: leaves for thatching, the fruits as a delicacy, and the sugary sap from the inflorescence to make wine and syrup. Nypa can be tapped 4 years after planting, and keeps yielding for 50 years.

So far there have been a few field trials to monocrop the palm, with some success. There's also an unconfirmed rumor that the Indonesian government is considering starting a huge plantation on Irian Jaya's southern swamps, where the palm originates. The project is aimed at producing ethanol feedstock.

Research about Nypa fruticans is very scarce, in fact so scarce that even the
International Centre for Underutilized Crops does not mention it. The European Tropical Rainforest Network and the FAO [search results] have quite a few sources on it, though, and the palm is mentioned often in the context of mangrove conservation and management literature. A basic plant profile can be found at the Ecoport database.

Given the huge potential yield, the ease of tapping the palm and the fact that it is dominant in many mangrove sub-systems, we at the BioPact think more research on this mysterious palm would be welcome.

We are currently researching the literature on Nypa, and we'll report back with a more comprehensive article.

Yield estimates from the scarce literature: 3,000kg/year ([2] [25]) to 10,000kg/year (2,000 plants) [13] Gibbs cited by [4]; 3,800 to 4,500kg/year (2,500 plants, 700-750 sap producing) [42] [43]; Peninsular Malaysia: 20,300kg/year (500 plants with 2 stalks tapped per plant/340 days/year) Watson cited by [41]; Sumatra estate: 22,400kg/year as a conservative estimate (Johnston cited by [43]); Papua New Guinea: 28,000kg/year if 50% of palms flower yearly and mean tapping period of 100 days [48] - Sumatra estate: 38 workers/10ha plot: 30 on tapping/collecting, 5 on maintenance and preparation of stalks through kicking, etc., 2 on syrup transport and one overseer (Johnston cited by [43]).
See: Christophe Dalibard, Overall view on the tradition of tapping palm trees and prospects for animal production, Livestock Research for Rural Development, Volume 11, Number 1 1999.

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French car manufacturers cast doubts on future of biofuels

Good and bad news for the BioPact: biofuels produced in northern latitudes might never be really competitive, which means it is better to produce them in the South. On the other hand, if biofuels don't make a serious breakthrough in the North, car manufacturers will hesitate to develop the cars that can run on those fuels (even though this isn't entirely true, since flex-fuel cars were developed in Brazil and immediately conquered the market because of the abundance of bioethanol there; some car manufacturers took the risk and it paid off. Now there's no reason why we shouldn't import both the fuels and the cars from the South. It's called trade.)

With the 2006 Challenge Bibendum now wrapped up, French car manufacturers Peugeot, Citroën and Renault warn that optimism about biofuels better be tempered. The economics of the oil alternatives are uncertain. The success of their mass introduction depends on the capacity of consumers to accept a premium price, not only for the fuels, but for the cars that use them as well.

Jean-Martin Folz, CEO of PSA Peugeot Citroën:
"Beyond the fact that the technologies now exist, what we need most today is clients willing to buy cars that use biofuels, and we are not certain they are indeed showing the needed appetite."

His collegue at Renault, Jean-Louis Ricaud, utters the same doubts about consumers' willingness to pay a premium for the highly efficient hybrid-(bio)diesels it recently developed.

Both corporate leaders continue discussing France's recent ambitious biofuels targets that were recently introduced by a new law, and about which we reported earlier.

Source: Capital.fr (in French).

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Forest biomass: Europe's state forests unite under a single association

Thanks to our multilingual members, we are able to present news about biofuels and bioenergy from the Lusophone and Francophone as well as the Spanish speaking world. It allows us to get a much wider and more balanced perspective on the sector, as it relates to the developing world and to global debates about energy, sustainability and social justice.

Our French speaking crew reports that a new interest group has been created that unites European state forests and state forestry organisations under a single umbrella. The organisation will lobby with institutions, monitor the economic exploitation of the forests and disseminate scientific information about these ecosystems that should be viewed as an integrated ecological whole.

During its first year of operation (2006-2007), the Association des forêts d'État européennes (press release [*.pdf]) will focus on (1) the critical and hotly debated question of the fine balance between economic and environmental considerations regarding the forests, (2) the increasing use of woody biomass as a feedstock for green energy, which it wants to be managed on a supra-national European level, (3) ways to increase research on wood high-tech products (see earlier post on nano-cellulose fibres) and (4) analysing the place of European state forests in the context of the Kyoto Protocol and carbon reduction efforts.

[entry ends here.]

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Prairie grain farmers new biomass sheiks - how about savannah sheiks?

In the following article, a Canadian farmer rightly calls himself and his collegues "biomass sheiks": rising oil & gas prices boost biofuels and biogas, which in turn put pressure on grain and biomass prices, making agriculture suddenly look like a much more profitable sector than it used to be.
But if Canada's prairie-farmers are biomass sheiks, then certainly the African village chief who controls huge savannahs and tropical grasslands belongs to the same green 'royal family'.

It's refreshing, but also a bit disconcerting, to hear some of the glowing predictions for primary agriculture in the years ahead. Optimistic predictions in the past have seldom come to fruition.

Why should this time be different? There's no denying that a huge structural change is underway, as ethanol and biodiesel are embraced as partial replacements for petroleum products. It's hoped this burgeoning demand will result in tighter world stocks and, therefore, higher grain prices.

There have often been analysts predicting that the growing demand for food was going to do the same thing. As recently as the mid-1990s, when grain prices were briefl y buoyant, many analysts were questioning who would feed the growing demand in China.

Ending the grain transportation subsidy was supposed to spur more livestock production and secondary processing within Western Canada. It has, and much more of our production is now used domestically, but grain price levels are still largely unsustainable.

In most of the past 10 years, grain prices have been so low that many producers have had to draw on their equity just to stay in business. Growing a wider array of crops and producing for specialized markets have helped, but have been no panacea.

Stocks-to-use ratios for grain are often hitting the rock-bottom levels that caused dramatic price rallies back in the 1970s, but the world never seems to run short and the value of grain has fallen out of sync with the inputs needed to produce it.

It's a little hard to believe the world is on the precipice of a new era, but that's exactly the message from analysts such as Ron Witherspoon.

Based in Regina, Witherspoon is with Interactive Management Group. He has more than 30 of years experience providing consulting services to both international corporations and Prairie farmers. He spoke June 12 to the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association's annual con n in Estevan.

At a time when more grain farmers than ever are questioning why they're in agriculture, Witherspoon is saying that owning farmland in Saskatchewan is a good thing. He says the future looks bright.

"We are the biomass sheiks," says Witherspoon, referring to our huge land base and production.

He believes high oil prices are here to stay and that increasing production of ethanol will force increases in grain prices.

Witherspoon says there have been no new petroleum refi neries in the U.S.

in the past 30 years and many of the existing ones are in the path of hurricanes; plus, maintaining a steady supply of Arab oil is tenuous at best.

Meanwhile, American ethanol production is booming, consuming billions of bushels of corn each year. Consumption is going to increase by many more billions in the years ahead. Some U.S.

senators are already lobbying for a 25 per cent blend in gasoline.

By comparison, Canada is talking about a renewable fuel standard of fi ve per cent by 2010. Even though Canada is going a lot slower, we'll benefi t from the changes in the American grain market.

Witherspoon claims that nearly a million American farmers have investments in ethanol facilities.

Right now, the profi t margins are huge.

Many progressive farmers on this side of the border have been burned with investments in value-added ventures and livestock enterprises.

While those kinds of enterprises make sense on the landlocked Prairies, margins are tight. Management errors and undercapitalization have exacted a toll.

Another exciting development is biogas. Livestock can be fed the byproducts from ethanol production.

In turn, the manure can be used to generate methane that can be burned for heat and for the production of electricity. This isn't science fi ction.

There are a growing number of working examples across the country, most of which are modeled after designs being used in Europe.

No one can predict with certainty how the future will unfold, but agriculture as an energy source seems destined to drive the kind of structural change that we haven't seen in decades.


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BP to invest $500 million over 10 years in biofuels research

The big oil giants are greenwashing their act. This is what was to be expected, but we shouldn't despair: there's lots of room for bottom-up, local and citizen-driven initiatives in the sector.

Still, we must keep an eye on what the dinosaurs from the petro-military-industrial complex are doing: BP's CEO announced on Wednesday that it is to invest $500 million over 10 years in a biofuels research program starting by the end of 2007.

The plans will be in addition to $8 billion of spending already earmarked by the company to develop alternative-energy projects as it tries move from traditional hydrocarbons and change its public image.

In a print version of a speech to be made Wednesday, CEO John Browne said the company will make "a 10-year investment of $500 million to create a dedicated biosciences energy research laboratory, attached to a major academic centre."
"This will be the first facility of its kind in the world," he added.
Browne said BP had begun discussions with several leading universities to identify which could host the research program, called BP Energy Biosciences Institute.
He said the institute would focus on developing new biofuel components and improving the efficiency of existing ones; devise technologies to enhance the conversion of organic matter to biofuel molecules; and use modern plant science to develop species that produce a higher yield of energy molecules.
Biofuels, which use organic matter - such as corn or cane - are seen as cleaner than those using fossil fuel and one way to address the world's thirst for energy.
Last July, the U.S. Congress passed an energy bill that mandates the doubling of biofuels output by 2012.
Other oil companies are also spending money on the technology. For example, Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) has invested in privately-owned Canadian biotechnology company Iogen which blends farming waste with fossil fuels at its Ottawa plant.
Last year, BP said it would fund its alternative-energy projects through a new business unit, BP Alternative Energy, where it expects to invest as much as $8 billion over 10 years. Energy sources developed will include solar, wind, hydrogen and carbon-abatement technology.
But a spokeswoman said the $500 million pledged for biofuels will be on top of the $8 billion already announced.
The announcement was made during the release of BP's statistical review of world markets, where it said growth in global energy production and consumption slowed in 2005 to 2.7%, down from a 4.4% increase in 2004.


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Uganda turning to sugar cane for green electricity

In Brazil sugar cane processors use biomass residues (bagasse) from the cane to produce the electricity they need to keep their mill going. As it is well known, they generate an impressive amount of excess energy, which is then fed from the mill into the national grid. This is green, CO2 neutral, climate-friendly electricity. The technique is rather simple and easily transferrable to other developing countries. As Abubaker Mukose reports, Uganda is picking up on it (and now that the country is going to an electricity crisis, this most simple form of biomass-to-electricty might come in handy):

Piles and piles of crushed baggasse stretch out of an iron-roofed shed adjacent to the sugar factory. Baggasse is waste bio-mass of sugarcane from which juice has been extracted.

Two men scoop the baggasse with spades and pour it into a furnace that connects to a steam boiler, generating fumes of hot steam. A few yards away is a construction site for a towering steam boiler complex. Clad in red overcoats, the constructors piece the huge steel parts together with welding machines.

They gaze at us, trying to work out why we are here, but they soon get back to work.

A huge cylindrical tank lies on its side as the sound from the welding rods breaks the dominance of the ever-rolling sugar factory noise.

At the lower side of the construction site is a magnificent power house housing huge electricity generators fixed to turbines that turn fast, driven by the power of steam produced by the boilers.

They run with the help of steam fed in the double extraction, condensing into the 16MW turbo generator to produce electrical power.

This is at Kakira Sugar Works factory, Jinja, where the Madhvani Group of Companies has committed a $43m investment to boost the power co-generation scheme alongside sugar production.

Electricity generated from baggasse has made Kakira self reliant. The sugar and sweet factories, together with the housing estates, require approximately 7MW of electricity.

Kakira plans to sell the 12MW surplus power to Uganda Electricity Transmission Company (UETCL) for tapping to the national grid system under a long-term power purchase agreement.

It is an initiative likely to help alleviate the country's escalating energy crisis.

"The plant uses baggasse as fuel for the boilers for generation of steam at 42kg per sq. centimetre (530 degrees Centigrade)," explains Sundraman Ganesan, the electrical engineering manager of the bagasse-fired co-generation power plant.

Ganesan adds that necessary expansion equipment for crushing the 5,000 tonnes of cane per day will be commissioned early next year to produce the required baggasse.

Joint managing director (Madhvani Group) Mayur Madhvani says the sugar factory expansion work is almost complete to meet the demand of the co-generation project.

"The new power house that will accommodate the 16MW turbo generator is being completed. On completion, 12MW of power will be exported from Kakira to the grid beginning early next year," Madhvani says, adding that the electricity is environmentally friendly and stable.

Ash coming out of the boilers and flue gasses are wet scrubbed before being released into the atmosphere, thus making it an environmentally friendly set-up.

Madhvani adds that a 33KV power line of approximately 12.6km from Kakira to the Jinja industrial sub-station has been surveyed. "The line will be used to transmit 12MW of power from Kakira to the grid," he explains.

Power Planning Associates-Energy Sector Consultants have been mediating for mutual power purchase negotiations for UETCL to tap Kakira's power.

However, the negotiations have not been completed, much as the country is reeling under a peak hour deficit of 165 megawatts of power.

Already, up to 3MW of surplus power produced by Kakira is wasted daily due to delays in signing the purchase agreement.

"If purchased, Kakira power can satisfactorily light up Jinja town. However, the Government is taking long to finalise the purchase deal, yet we have gone ahead to invest and soon the planned 12MW shall be available," Madhvani complains.

Statistics from the Uganda Electricity Generation Company show that Jinja town requires about 9MW of power during peak hours.

Energy minister Daudi Migereko promises to mediate the purchase negotiations.

"I am happy with the Kakira 20MW co-generation plan. Co-generation electricity is encouraged by the ministry as it is seen to complement our struggle to limit the current power shortage in the country," he says. "Sourcing power today is not an easy task, but as the Government, we are committed to ensuring that there is adequate electricity in the country."

New Vision (Kampala).

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China to Boost Biomass Energy Through Financial Incentives

China is a bit late on biomass and bioenergy, but now it is catching up, and doing so ambitiously. China’s government will enact new fiscal policies to encourage the development of biomass energy, according to a CCTV report. Biomass energy is energy derived from plant matter such as trees, agricultural crops, and a range of organic wastes and residues. These resources can be processed to produce electricity, biofuels, and chemicals.

Zhu Zhigang, China’s Vice Financial Minister, told participants at a June 7 national fiscal meeting that the Ministry of Finance is deliberating a cost-sharing and risk-sharing mechanism for biomass energy to encourage its development.
“A risk-sharing mechanism allows [biomass energy] companies to reserve risk funds before taxation during oil price hikes. Those funds will be used to compensate losses and sustain companies’ operations if oil prices plummet,” said Zhu.

Under an ambitious government plan, China aims to produce 12 million tons of biofuels, including ethanol and biodiesel, annually by 2020, accounting for 15 percent of the nation’s transportation fuel use. Currently, the country produces roughly one million tons of fuel ethanol from corn each year, 5,000 tons of ethanol from sweet sorghum, and just under 100,000 tons of biodiesel from waste vegetable oil and oil plants such as Jatropha curcas, Pistacia chinensis, and rapeseed.

The use of biomass for electricity generation is also picking up. Several pilot projects set up in recent years are using the stalks of agricultural crops as feedstock, providing a promising alternative to heavily polluting coal-fired power plants.

With its large agricultural base and wide variety of plant species, China boasts tremendously rich biomass resources. The State Forestry Administration reports that the nation is home to 1,554 types of oil plants, more than 30 of which are highly adaptable and widely distributed. China also produces around 1.5 million tons of agricultural and wood wastes or residues annually, including 100 million tons of agricultural crop stalks. These stalks, which have the potential to provide 50 million metric tons of energy (standard coal equivalent), are currently burned away by farmers, contributing to China’s air pollution problems.

The government’s new financial commitment to biomass energy is expected to kindle industry enthusiasm in related investments and R&D. Experts believe that accelerated development of biomass energy will help alleviate China’s dependence on oil imports, save natural resources, and ease environmental tensions.

Yingling Liu

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Wolfowitz talks green fuels

It is always interesting to see how controversial super-technocrats, like the big boss of the World Bank, talk -- "top down" -- about development issues. This is helicopter vision - grand words, many commonplaces, hollow phrases. Sometimes the helicopter metaphor must be taken literally. Who else visits 8 African countries in less than 24 hours? They fly in, have a coffee and "got to know the country better". We at the BioPact prefer the frog perspective (which doesn't mean we don't leap from country to country, we just do it differently).

But in all seriousness, when it comes to bioenergy and biofuels, we better be aware of what the men with planetary bank accounts think. Sadly, green fuels are a sector where States and Very Important Institutions always have the final say (targets, frameworks, special tax regimes, national trade deals, import tariffs, etc...).

So what does mighty Wolfowitz have to say about ethanol, biodiesel, bioenergy? Let's imagine we're listening to the introductory speech he gave last wednesday during a Conference on “Biofuels for Transportation: Global Potential and Implications for Sustainable Agriculture, Energy, and Security in the 21st Century”, at the Worldwatch Institute.
And after that, let's read the transcripts of the expert speeches that were given later on. We will analyse them and report back if we find anything of interest [entry ends here].

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