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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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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Biogas projects win Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy

Winners of the 2006 Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy were announced in Britain with an International First Prize going to the Appropriate Rural Technology Institute (ARTI) from India, which has developed a biogas plant which uses food waste rather than manure as feedstock, and supplies biogas for cooking. The digester for producing biogas from food waste is sufficiently compact to be used by urban households, and over 700 are currently in use [technical summary of the project.]

The 2nd Prize Award went to another biogas project implemented by the Shaanxi Mothers Environmental Protection Volunteers. The organisation took the Health and Welfare Award for, in the words of the judging panel, "their determined efforts to bring all the health, economic and environmental benefits of biogas technology to farming families in rural China". Led by their founder, Wang Mingying, the Shaanxi Mothers have overseen the installation of almost 1,300 biogas systems in farming households across the province. The main source of the gas is waste from humans and household pigs. By replacing wood as a cooking fuel, it is saving families time and money, as well as contributing to China's reforestation efforts [read the interesting technical summary of this women-led bioenergy program.]

Other projects involved solar energy, new cooking stove designs, better peddle pumps for irrigation and other appropriate technologies.

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Dyadic reports update to progress in development of enzymes for conversion of biomass to cellulosic ethanol

Quicknote cellulosic ethanol
Dyadic International, a gene discovery, enzymes and protein manufacturing company, revealed that it would report at the third Annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing that it has identified and tested highly effective enzyme mixtures for the efficient conversion of renewable cellulosic biomass to ethanol.

Dyadic added that Marco Baez would present results of an internal study on its proprietary cellulase and hemicellulase mixes with strong saccharifying activity on a number of different lignocellulosic feedstocks, including Douglas fir and cotton.

The company said that it has filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent Office for these new enzymes and mixtures containing these enzymes.

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British energy farmers fight for prominent role in UK energy plans

In its latest Energy Review, which controversially includes the building of new nuclear reactors, the British government has rightly acknowledged the contribution that renewables can make to UK energy supply but has not specified where agriculture fits in with the plan, says the National Farmers Union (NFU).

The Government unveiled plans to increase energy supply from renewables including biofuels, biomass, biogas, solar, wind and wave energy with nuclear power at the heart of the report. However, the report lacks detail on how this will be implemented, often relying on a further six consultations – intentions rather than specific actions. The NFU is disappointed by the lack of emphasis on the role farmers can play, with no separate levels set for bioenergy to help achieve EU targets.

NFU President Peter Kendall said: “Although the report seems full of good intentions, it fails to lay solid groundwork for the developing UK bioenergy industry. Farmers are willing and able to supply renewable energy but a firm lack of commitment and specific targets is undermining this market.

“If the Government is serious about renewables it should set separate targets for bioenergy for heat, electricity and fuel, allowing the UK to move towards a cleaner, more secure energy source, and to enable investors the confidence to develop the infrastructure needed.”

BioPact: this is of great interest to us, because the British Government was one of the first to highlight the possibility of importing biomass from the tropics. See: House of Commons Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 29 October 2003. Seventeenth Report.

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The European Environment Agency recently reported that 15 -16 per cent of EU energy could be met through domestic bioenergy production without harming the environment. The NFU is questioning the Government’s commitment to similar targets in the UK.

Mr Kendall said: “There is no single solution to meet the UK energy demand of the future but a package of suitable solutions, with the emphasis on renewables and domestic production, needs to be found. While the UK continues to talk up renewables in comparison with our EU counterparts, we’re completely off the pace.

“We will be interested in the findings of the Coal Forum as UK Agriculture is keen to develop further green co-firing of UK biomass material. We also welcome a review of planning to over come problems of building renewable power stations.

“Bioenergy should play a full part in this mix and the Government needs to set targets similar to the rest of the EU and not simply rely on market forces to develop a demand for bioenergy.”

More info: Stackyard.com.

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Indonesia to spend a massive US$ 22 billion by 2010 to promote biofuels

OPEC member Indonesia, a future Biofuels Superpower, has given more details [*Bahasa Indonesia] about its previously announced bioenergy crash program (earlier post). The country plans to invest a massive Rupee 200 trillion (€17.3 bn / US$22 bn) over the next five years to promote the use of alternative fuels using crops such as palm oil, cassava, jatropha and sugar cane for the production of biodiesel and ethanol Energy Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said.

About $6 billion will be spent securing 6 million hectares (14.8 million acres) of land, in an as-yet-unspecified location, and the rest will fund factories, roads and other supporting services, he said. Plant-based fuels can be mixed with gasoline, diesel and kerosene, now subsidized by the government.

Biofuel "can replace fuel in the transportation sector," Purnomo said today at an event in Jakarta to promote biofuel. It also helps communities raise their level of fuel self-sufficiency and creates a large number of jobs.

Indonesia, Southeast Asia's biggest oil producer and user, still imports a third of its fossil-fuel requirements, and the government wants to use more vegetable oils to reduce overseas purchases of petroleum and refined products. Higher crude oil prices, which have tripled since 2002, are spurring greater government and investor interest in biofuels worldwide.

Global supply of biofuels may almost double in the next five years, the International Energy Agency, an adviser to 26 oil-using nations, said yesterday. The growth is "a supply and policy response to high oil prices," the agency said.

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President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said July 3 that Indonesia should focus on making biofuels from four commodities, palm oil, cassava, jatropa, a plant that yields castor oil, and sugar left over from processing.

Indonesia is already the world's second-largest producer of palm oil, the price of which has gained 5.6 percent since the year started to 1,497 ringgit ($409) a metric ton. Production may reach 15 million tons this year, Derom Bangun, chairman of theIndonesian Palm Oil Producers' Association, said on June 21.

The government plans to spend about 51 trillion rupiah over the next five years to develop land for more oil palm, rubber and cocoa plantations to spur growth an d create jobs, Supra Tamtama, deputy director for estate crops in the Ministry of Agriculture, said on June 29. Three-quarters of the funds will be for palm oil, he said.

Biofuels will account for 10 percent of the content in fuel products, Purnomo said Thursday. Based on this year's usage, that's equivalent to 4.1 million kiloliters , he said on July 3.

The government will enlist the support of agricultural companies such as PT Astra Agro Lestari, the country's largest plantation company by market value, smaller producers, cooperatives and multilateral agencies, he said.

The government will also seek favorable financing from state banks such as PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia, PT Bank Mandiri and PT Bank Negara Indonesia, the minister s aid.

A so-called biofuel master plan will be ready by the end of this month that will detail financial incentives for small- and medium-sized companies and cooperatives to produce biofuel, and ease the issue of permits and regulations for large companies.Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country, has 238 million people in an archipelago spanning three time zones.

More information:
Bloomberg - Jakarta Post: Republic of Indonesia to spend Rp 200t by 2010 to promote biofuels
Indonesia's Department of Energy and Mining: Percepatan Pembangunan Pembangkit Listrik Libatkan Dana Rp 200 Triliun
Indonesian Government Portal: Bioenergi dan Kebutuhan Energi Nasional
Indonesian Government Portal: Bio Oil Dipriotaskan Untuk Peningkatan Perekonomian Rakyat

Laurens Rademakers

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