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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, July 10, 2006

The World Bioenergy Index launched - investment tool

Here at the BioPact, we have long said that bioenergy feedstocks are going to become genuine commodities and that global indices will track the industry. Now SAM Group, Société Générale and Dow Jones Indexes are launching the World Bioenergy Index (BIOX), because bioenergy is the fastest growing energy sector. This new index comprises the world's biggest companies in the field of bioenergy and gives investors the chance to benefit from this rapidly growing market. The French investment bank Société Générale is issueing the first BIOX certificates on the Bourse de Paris.

The World Bioenergy Index tracks the performance of the world's biggest publicly traded bioenergy companies that are involved in the production of biogas, biomass, ethanol, biodiesel, biohydrogen and biofuels technologies and systems (combined heat and power, biomass co-firing etc...). Its composition is revised twice a year and each trimester its base-value is re-calculated on the basis of the capitalisation of the companies that make up the index. The BIOX currently tracks 9 values and is calculated in real time by Dow Jones Indexes.

With an Open Ended Index Certificate on this index, investors have the possibility to invest simultaneously in these companies and thus to profit from the growth opportunities in the bioenergy industry. The certificate reflects the performance of the index almost one to one. Société Générale will continuously quote buying and selling prices for the certificate which will be listed on the EUWAX in Stuttgart and on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Due to liquidity-providing market making, continuous trading throughout the entire trading session is guaranteed

The BIOX Index is set up as a performance index (total return), which means that dividend payments are reinvested.

More information:

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Ethablog looks at the geopolitics of ethanol

Henrique Oliveira's Ethablog - the only place in cyberspace that monitors Brazil's ethanol industry - has some very interesting pieces this week. First it looks at the environmental impacts of Brazilian monocultures on the Amazon region and other ecosystems in the country. He concludes that things are not what they seem, and illustrates the complexities of land-use with an example: when a degraded piece of land is converted to grow soy, the effect is that elsewhere cattle ranchers convert forests to pastures because they can no longer use that land. The dynamic has its own temporality, making impacts difficult to monitor.

Brazil is a huge country, itself consisting of states that differ in importance due to their agricultural output, their economic power and their demographic make-up. In another essay, Henrique traces the fascinating history of the internal geopolitics of Brazil's different states as it relates to the potential for biofuels - from early colonial times to the era of rapid industrialisation. He concludes by asking: "can Brazil drastically multiply its ethanol-producing capacity? Given the land-to-output ratio presented by the state of Sao Paulo, the answer is most certainly a “Yes”."

But it is the piece entitled "Ethanol and the one percent doctrine" that struck us most. Henrique connects best-selling author Ron Suskind's "One Percent Doctrine" with the future geopolitics of ethanol.

The doctrine comes down to Dick Cheney's own definition: 'If there's a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It's not about our analysis ... It's about our response.' Suskind takes this as a new doctrine: '(...) a standard of action that would frame events and responses from the Administration for years to come.'

Now, Henrique asks, given this doctrine, what are the consequences to America's national security if (1) ethanol does become a significant player in the energy industry and (2) a country such as Brazil takes on a leading role in its production? Are such events probable enough that they would already warrant preparing a response?

Read his analysis at EthaBlog.

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Green chemists, biorefineries and new career opportunities

Here at the BioPact, we are tracking the development of green chemistry as it relates to the broad vision of a biomaterials industry coupled to biofuels production. Environmental News Bits reports about the opportunities opening up for green chemists. If you're looking for an interesting career path with great potential, do read the following piece:

The chemical industry is facing some tough challenges in Europe. European legislation is about to tighten the way chemicals are regulated and make chemical companies responsible for proving the environmental safety of the chemicals they produce. Even before legislation provided a specific impetus for cleaning up their act, chemistry companies and researchers were becoming aware of the need to replace common products, production methods, and feedstocks with substitutes that have less impact on the environment. Sustainable products and processes are being developed that should eventually replace the old ones. An army of "green chemists" is coming on stream that aims to continue the trend. "We need green chemists in at the start, designing processes from first principles," says Jeff Hardy of the United Kingdom's Royal Society of Chemistry.

Research in green chemistry has broadened now, with biologists and environmental scientists coming on board and international collaborations developing. Chemical companies are increasingly interested in the green approach, and governments are keen to fund the work.For researchers, the secret of success is to combine a good understanding of chemistry and the environment with a dose of commercial savvy to attract funding from companies, and commercially driven government initiatives. "You need a combination of pure and applied research," says James Clark, who runs the Green Chemistry Group at York University, "so you can test new ideas in case studies."
James Clark

James Clark

Green chemistry's roots

The term "green chemistry" emerged in the United States in the 1990s, but the underlying ideas behind it have been around a long time. Green chemistry's early proponents were academic chemists looking for ways of making chemical industry cleaner and more efficient."We were developing environmentally friendly processes like solid catalysts long before it was fashionable, or the word 'green' was used," says Clark. "We were [already] well set in the 1990s, when environmental legislation started to bite and the US Environmental Protection Agency started its green chemistry initiative."

Green chemistry "is about looking at every component of a production process, including energy input, side-products, solvents, engineering, and transportation," says Ed Marshall, a green chemist at Imperial College London. "Each stage should be made as efficient as possible without compromising environmental issues." It's really a philosophy, says Hardy, who trained as a green chemist at York University. "We are training chemists to think imaginatively about minimising environmental impacts and social and economic costs," he says. The philosophy isn't new; what's new is the discipline's recognition and influence. Green chemistry is getting popular.
Ed Marshall

Ed Marshall

Green opportunities for green chemists

The growth of interest in the field is reflected by the rise in the number of training programmes. Five years ago, Clark started the first European postgraduate course in green chemistry, a research masters (MRes) in Clean Chemical Technology. "Green chemistry is ultimately an educational initiative," he says. "If we are successful, future generations of chemical technologists will automatically think green."

Universities are starting to train young chemists in environmental principles to carry the momentum forward. Some organisations--including the Universities of Cambridge, Imperial College, London, and Ghent in Belgium--offer optional lecture courses on green chemistry as part of a standard chemistry degree, and they are well attended. Leicester University and the University of Zaragoza in Spain both have new masters-degree programs. A multidisciplinary M.Sc. in sustainable chemistry will start at Imperial College London next year. Marshall is involved with planning the new degree. "Green chemistry is a hot topic," he says. "As young researchers are attracted to the field, they bring vibrancy. The career prospects are excellent."

Another indicator of the field's growth is funding levels; they, too, are also on the rise, says Helen Coombs from the Green Chemistry Network, an initiative that promotes awareness of green chemistry and links industry and government with academics in the field. "It seems like the pot of money is increasing. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have put out a number of calls for specific proposals in green chemistry. And funding is coming from a variety of new sources, like the Department of Trade and Industry's Technology Programme and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs." At the European level, an initiative called SUSCHEM has been set up to advise governments on how to spend research money on sustainable chemistry so that the money supports industry.
Helen Coombs

Helen Coombs

Marshall says the drivers for green chemistry come equally from governments and industry. "Governments are responding to a perceived environmental concern in society," he says, "but the chemical industry is not the bad guy. Green chemistry is being seen by companies as a big potential competitive edge over rivals." He expects funding from both sources to continue increasing.

The trend towards green chemistry is likely to accelerate when the new European regulations, known as REACH (Regulation, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals), come online, probably by the end of this year. "REACH will severely limit the use of certain chemicals, like phthalates and bromo-flame retardants," she says. That means that companies will have to find alternatives--quickly. And that means greater demand for green chemists and their wares.

Training as a green chemist

For those wanting to stay at the bench, a research degree in green chemistry can offer excellent--and surprisingly broad--training in chemistry. Rachel Platel has just started her PhD at Imperial College London, working to improve synthesis of the bioplastic polylactide, which is made from corn. "I am really enjoying the research," she says, "because it covers organic, inorganic, and polymer chemistry."

A green chemistry PhD is also good grounding for a career in industrial chemistry. Tom Bell, a PhD student at Leicester University, works on an alternative solvent class that's generating a lot of interest: ionic liquids. "These can be much less toxic than traditional solvents and easier to re-use," he explains. "I chose it because it was with an industrial partner," he says, "but I've found it very interesting. There is a lot of work to do in green chemistry, and real benefits for the world." Bell is still writing his PhD, but he has already been offered a job as an analytical chemist with a global manufacturing firm.
Tom Bell

Tom Bell

Meeting industrial expectations

Even green chemists who want to stay in academia need to work closely with industry, as it is an important source of funding. But industry science can be an education for scientists used to the pace of academia. "We are always looking for new sources of funding," says John Archer, a geneticist who works in green chemistry at the University of Cambridge, "and seeking [an] industrial partnership is a good way to stay relevant." Working with Merck, Archer's team engineered bacteria to manufacture an enzyme that helps produce a crucial part of the drug Crixivan, which is used in the treatment of HIV patients. The method is cheaper than conventional organic chemistry synthesis and doesn't require petrochemical feedstock.

Unfortunately, the new process has not been utilised; Crixivan is now routinely made using a synthetic chemistry approach. Archer's team was just too slow. In order to meet industry's needs, "you need a purified version of an enzyme, and way of producing it, within 8 weeks," says Archer. "Our research took several years." Archer and his team learned from the experience. Working with Dowpharma, a unit of the Dow Chemical Company, they have speeded up the process of finding future candidate enzymes by sequencing the genome of their chosen bacteria. "Rhodococcus has a vast array of possible enzymes for breaking down complex carbon molecules," he says.

Green chemistry is all about industrial applications; if industry doesn't adopt the new techniques, they won't do any good. But that means scientists need to deliver products fast, and keep them cheap.The industry likes to stick to the tried-and-true, says Clark. "The chemical industry is very conservative, and new technologies need a lot of proving."

One way of getting into commercial mindset is to work in the commercial environment early in your career, even if your ultimate aspirations are academic. Green chemistry is starting to make progress now, Marshall says, because many people in the field have experience of industry. "There is a real understanding of the issues from both sides."

Whether you chose to work in academia or industry, green chemistry comes offers rewards both tangible and intangible. "The environmental importance is an added bonus," says Platel. "Students these days want to make a difference," adds Archer.

Science Magazine, via Environmental News Bits.

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Thailand confirms sufficient supply of gasohol by 2008

Quicknote ethanol supply
Motorists across Thailand will have sufficient supply of gasohol by the beginning of 2008, as the country plans to totally stop local consumption of premium and regular gasoline to reduce national reliance on imported oil amid the escalating world oil crisis. Earlier, there were doubts about Thailand's capacity and supply.

But a government committee in charge of developing and promoting the local production and consumption of bio-energy said on Sunday that the local production of ethanol, the main ingredient of gasohol, now stands at around 570,000 litre per day from five ethanol plants. However, the capacity of ethanol production from the five plants would nearly double to 1.008 litre per day by the end of this year, the committee revealed.

This will result in sufficient supply of premium gasohol (gasohol 95) across the country by the beginning of 2006. The local production of ethanol will increase to at least 3 million litres per day by next year, as the government is approving more licences for local ethanol manufacturers with their total production capacity of at least 4.985 million litres per day.

The number of licenced ethanol plants in Thailand is 25 currently, with more licences being approved, according to the commitee. The country uses cassava and sugar cane as ethanol feedstocks.

Given the move, motorists across the kingdom would have sufficient supply of both premium and regular gasohol (gasohol 95 and gasohol 91) by the beginning of 2008, four years faster than the government's earlier target, the committee confirmed.

The total sale of gasohol across the country in May this year reached 3.5 million litre per day, according to the official figure. (TNA)

Bangkok Post.

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Scandinavian ministers praise bioenergy - promote green fuels

The Nordic Council of Ministers, which unites representatives from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, today agreed on a joint campaign to increase the use of bio-energy in the Nordic countries. An annual Nordic bio-energy prize will be awarded to individuals or organisations that distinguish themselves in the field.

At their meeting in Svolvær today, the Nordic ministers of fisheries, agriculture, forestry and food adopted a plan for a joint Nordic campaign to disseminate information about the use of biological materials for energy purposes.
The initial goal is to collate relevant knowledge about "bio-energy in the Nordic Region" with the emphasis on the themes:
  • Energy potential of the primary industries and energy sources
  • Current volume of bio-energy production per source (woodchip, agricultural produce, waste, etc.)
  • A description of various technological solutions (for bio-energy production and for generating heat)
  • A description of bio-energy policy and measures in the Nordic countries.
"I think that the Nordic Region should play a leading role in international efforts to develop environmentally-friendly forms of energy. And I hope and believe that this meeting represents an important step along the way and will put the Nordic Region at the forefront of global progress," said the Norwegian minister, Terje Riis-Johansen. "No other region has quite the same preconditions and potential for success," he added.

A lot of knowledge about bio-energy has already been built up and a working party will now collate, summarise and organise that material. It will also decide how to maintain and update the body of information available. The working party will submit proposals by 01. 03. 2007 for discussion at a meeting of ministers in 2007 and then finish its work by 31.12. 2007.

Nordic bio-energy prize

The Nordic Council of Ministers is to launch an annual DKK 50,000 Nordic Bio-energy Prize for individuals or organisations that distinguish themselves in the field It will be presented for the first time when the ministers gather for their summer meeting in 2007, at which the winner will also be invited to make a presentation. The forestry and agriculture section of the Committee of Senior Officials for Fishery and Marine Resources, Forestry, Agriculture and Foodstuffs ( EK-FJLS) will set up a jury consisting of experts in bio-energy and the Council of Ministers will act as secretariat to that jury. The forestry and agriculture section of EK-FJLS will also draw up statutes for the prize. In the first instance, the prize will be awarded each year until 2010.


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Hydrogen wasteful way to store energy, scientists say

Hydrogen, the ultimate clean fuel, may not be very suitable as a conduit of renewable energy because it is wasteful and there are better alternatives, scientists said last week.

One reason hydrogen is embraced by politicians like US President George W Bush is that it promises a source of power for cars and buildings that emits only water.

The drawback is that hydrogen must first be produced, requiring a primary energy source, and this is where scientists see major obstacles (earlier post).

When environmentally friendly wind electricity is used to generate hydrogen, only one-quarter of the energy generated by the wind turbine is eventually used to move a car. The rest is lost during transport and energy conversion, said Ulf Bossel of the European Fuel Cell Forum, which held its annual fuel cell conference in Lucerne, Switzerland, last week.

"With hydrogen energy you only have 25 per cent efficiency to turn wind power to [car] wheel power," he said. It's much more efficient to transport that electricity directly into a car battery, via the grid, and use 90 per cent of its power."

Bossel said most renewable energy will be harvested as electricity through wind and solar power and should be used directly.

But he accepted that today's economy is based on fuels and cars will need some liquid fuel for long journeys, rather than recharging batteries every few hundred kilometres.

Even when this liquid energy is made from biomass, it makes sense to turn it into a biodiesel or ethanol rather than hydrogen, said Wim van Swaaij, professor of thermo-chemical conversion at Netherlands' Twente University.

Biofuels are easy to handle, like today's fuels. Hydrogen, in its pure form, needs to be stored under high pressure which also consumes energy. Biofuels themselves contain hydrogen but in a much more stable form.

Hydrogen is being discussed at the conference because it is one of the fuels for cells that can generate electricity and heat in an electrochemical conversion.

US President Bush said in April that hydrogen was the fuel of the future. In meetings with US House and Senate leaders in May, the big three US motor companies pushed for a scenario involving ethanol and hydrogen fuel cell cars.

Even oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell has started a project in Rotterdam to fuel city buses with hydrogen. Shell chief executive Jeroen van der Veer said recently such projects are important to raise awareness of alternative energy.

Bossel said most renewable energy will be harvested as electricity through wind and solar power and should be used directly.

But he accepted that today's economy is based on fuels and cars will need some liquid fuel for long journeys, rather than recharging batteries every few hundred kilometres.

Even when this liquid energy is made from biomass, it makes sense to turn it into a biodiesel rather than hydrogen, said Wim van Swaaij, professor of thermo-chemical conversion at Netherlands' Twente University.

Biofuels are easy to handle, like today's fuels. Hydrogen, in its pure form, needs to be stored under high pressure which also consumes energy. Biofuels themselves contain hydrogen but in a much more stable form.

"Through steam reforming technology we can turn 40 to 50 per cent of the original fuel content in biomass into biofuel. The percentage is even higher for hydrogen, 50 to 60 per cent, but we will also have to store it and biofuels are the easiest and most efficient way to store it," Van Swaiij said.

The carbon particles in the biofuel will not make a net contribution to heating up the Earth through the greenhouse effect if the fuel is harvested from biomass, because the plants consume carbon dioxide as they grow, Van Swaaij added.

Bossel also said that producing hydrogen, either through electrolysis using nuclear or renewable electricity, or refined from biomass or fossil fuels, requires massive amounts of water. One kilogram of hydrogen requires nine litres of water.

The New Zealand Herald.

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Okinawa vows promotion of sugarcane derived biofuel

Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshihiro Nikai pledged Tuesday the state will spearhead efforts to develop bio-ethanol in Okinawa by using sugarcane grown in the prefecture, as part of the central government's industrial promotion policy for the area.

Nikai vowed cooperation in the bio-ethanol development during his meeting with Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine and said at a following symposium on the new energy in Naha that Tokyo will first consider utilizing Okinawan sugarcane to produce the plant-derived fuel before examining the possibility of importing it from the world's largest producer Brazil in the future.

This comes after Japan and Brazil already signed a biofuel pact. Under this pact, Brazil is to export 500 million liters of ethanol per year until 2020. (earlier post).

"We want to place bio-ethanol at the center of our new energy strategy but at present, we face challenges such as high production costs compared with
gasoline, insufficient infrastructure for distribution and difficulties to
secure stable supply," Nikai said.

"The central government should give special consideration in promoting the
fuel and maybe the state could cover costs to prepare tanks to accommodate it" at gas stations, he said.

Ethanol is considered a promising alternative to fossil fuel amid the recent surge in crude oil prices, Kyodo News reported.

Brazil is the world's largest bio-ethanol producer, with an annual output of about 15 million kiloliters, and it is also the only exporter of the fuel.

Japan and Brazil have set up a study group on importing the fuel from Brazil to Japan.

Japan currently uses the plant-derived fuel only in experiments for
demonstration, but aims to eventually increase its use as a way of achieving its target under the Kyoto Protocol to cut carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.

Plant-derived fuel made from sugarcane and corn helps reduce CO2 emissions
because when burned, it releases only CO2 that was already absorbed by the

The Petroleum Association of Japan, an industry group of oil wholesalers, has set a goal of using about 360,000 kl of plant-derived ethanol in fiscal 2010 to contribute to Japan's achievement of goals under the Kyoto pact.

Okinawa hosts the central government's experimental projects of the bio-fuel at remote islands. Nikai will visit Miyakojima Island on Wednesday to inspect one of the demonstrations under which the fuel is used to run about 100 local government vehicles on the island.

Inamine said at a joint news conference with Nikai that he hopes those new
energy projects will help boost the local economy.

"As an island prefecture, Okinawa shoulders higher costs of energy than other areas. The bio-fuel represents possibilities for new industry and environmental conservation in the prefecture," he said at the symposium.

Nikai said Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is aware of the importance of
developing ethanol in Okinawa. The industry minister denied that the central government is promoting the new energy to compensate Okinawa for its burdens in continuing to host the bulk of the U.S. military presence in Japan despite the planned realignment of the U.S. forces.

The minister also said that the government is considering setting up 10
facilities called ''new energy parks'' across Japan to inform visitors of the new energy sources and that Okinawa could be a candidate site.

Officials of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry later said that the state is planning to expand the Miyakojima project to apply the bio-fuel to some 20,000 vehicles running on the island, which has a population of about 50,000. (*)

Antara News.

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