<body> -------------------
Contact Us       Consulting       Projects       Our Goals       About Us
home / Archive
Nature Blog Network

    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.

Creative Commons License

Friday, August 11, 2006

Ethanol gel fuel for cooking stoves revolutionizing African households

More than half of the world’s population relies on dung, wood, crop waste or coal to meet their most basic energy needs. Cooking and heating with such solid fuels on open fires or stoves without chimneys leads to indoor air pollution. This indoor smoke contains a range of health-damaging pollutants including small soot or dust particles that are able to penetrate deep into the lungs. In poorly ventilated dwellings, indoor smoke can exceed acceptable levels for small particles in outdoor air 100-fold. Exposure is particularly high among women and children, who spend the most time near the domestic hearth. Indoor smoke pollution is a real killer in the kitchen. According to the WHO, every year indoor air pollution is responsible for the death of 1.6 million people - that's one death every 20 seconds.

Now a new, simple and sustainable biofuel is silently bringing a revolution to African households: ethanol gel. The low cost gel is smokeless, odourless, not poisonous, easy to handle and to store and can be used in traditional cooking stoves. Moreover, it reduces CO2 emissions by up to 50% compared to wood and diminishes pressures on forests. To produce gelfuel, denatured ethanol from sugar or starch crops is mixed with a thickening agent (cellulose) and water through a very simple technical process, resulting in a combustible gel. The gelfuel is thus renewable and can be locally produced in most countries in Africa. Jellified and/or solidified liquid fuels (kerosene and ethanol) have been in use since World War II, when they were used by soldiers for cooking.
The advantage of the ethanol gel fuel is that it can be made from so many tropical crops - from sorghum over cassava to tapioca, sweet potatoes, sugar cane and maize, to name but a few.

Several initiatives like the World Bank's Millennium Gelfuel Initiative - a public-private partnership aimed at adapting and disseminating the cooking fuel for the African household sector - have yielded encouraging results. Consumer tests and marketing assessments conducted in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, and Zimbabwe have overwhelmingly affirmed the appeal and potential commercial viability of the gelfuel. More than 15 African and 2 Latin American countries have expressed interest in introducing the local production and marketing of the gelfuel, and concrete private sector driven Millennium Gelfuel investment projects are being prepared in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

Other large commercialisation efforts are underway elsewhere. In Swaziland, for example, local people are "extatic" about a gel fuel project, because not only does it deliver cheaper and cleaner energy than wood, its production also brings in jobs and gives a boost to the local economy. The company in question has made a €uro 4 million investment and will be sourcing cassava as a feedstock from small farmers. Women entrepreneurs will sell the gel packs on local markets. "Everything comes together so nicely", as one woman in Swaziland said enthusiastically about the project. We agree with her.

More information:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Article continues

EU presidency Finland says only investing in biofuels can influence oil prices

Quicknote bioenergy economics
Finland currently holds the rotating EU presidency, which is why statements made by Finnish politicians get more attention than usual. In an interesting column, Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said that investing in biofuels and renewable energy resources is the only way western countries can really influence the price of oil. In his column in the Finnish daily Turun Sanomat that was quoted by the Finnish national broadcaster YLE's web site, Vanhanen wrote that energy will continue to be expensive in the future and demand will outgrow supply.

Although Mr Vanhanen called for government support for bioenergy in the form of legislation, taxation and subsidies, he underlined that the energy form must be profitable to be sustainable. "One important principle should be that sustainable bioenergy use can be created only by basing it on market prices." Speaking about Finland itself, Vanhanen suggested that half a million hectares should be used for bioenergy production, but added that there should be no objections to importing raw biomass or biofuels feedstocks from abroad.

From our perspective, we retain three important elements from this short statement: (1) bioenergy has the potential to put a dent in oil prices, (2) it should compete on the free market without subsidies, (3) like oil and gas, international biomass and biofuels trade should be promoted.

Forbes: Finnish PM says investing in biofuel can influence oil prices - report
NewsRoom Finland: Next government must continue promotion of bioenergy -Finland's PM

[Entry ends here]
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Article continues

Hyper-efficiency with Combined Heat and Power systems using bioenergy

Traditional fossil fueled power plants achieve an efficiency of anywhere between 30 and 40%. Their CO2 emissions contribute greatly to global warming. Such power systems stem from an era where power production was heavily centralised and controlled by large single-point utilities.
Now that we are entering the bioenergy future, far more efficient systems are gaining in popularity, especially in Europe. Take 'Combined Heat and Power' (CHP) or 'cogeneration' systems, which recover the large amount of 'waste heat' that gets released during the production of electricity. CHP systems put it to use to heat and cool buildings and to deliver hot water to communities ('district heating'). As such, CHP systems often achieve more than twice the efficiency of their old world counterparts. The spatial and conceptual framework resulting from these systems changes as well: local resources are distributed in a decentralised manner and are controlled by local communities.

So far nothing new. The ideal power system however consists of a CHP system using bioenergy feedstocks. And several European countries - most notably Germany and France - are leading on this front, using locally produced woody biomass, agricultural waste or dedicated biofuel crops (even though several large plants are also sourcing biomass internationally, even from the tropics). This way, CO2 emissions are greatly reduced (compare it to traditional fossil fuel power plants: the fuel has to be transported in, which requires a CO2 intensive logistical chain; during the production of electricity the fossil fuels emit their CO2; and since these plants are not very efficient, a comparably small amount of usable energy is actually produced).

An interesting illustration of sustainable, green power generation based on a CHP system comes from the community of Ottignies-Louvain-La-Neuve, in Belgium. This city is one of the leading partners of the EU sponsored Sustainable Cities network, which pools cities in North-Western Europe that have developed world leading expertise in sustainable urban energy solutions. The town is now building a CHP plant which uses locally produced pure colza (rapeseed) as the prime feedstock. The biofuel is sourced from farmers living within a small perimeter around the plant, in order to reduce transport costs and CO2 emissions. This way, the Ottignies' plant boosts local agriculture. The system will deliver 100% of the elecricity of the community and 70% of its heating and cooling needs:

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The system makes use of the most optimal and rational combination of the existing electricity system and the new power production plant. At night, when less heating is required, the co-generator's capacity is turned down and the buildings use elecritity from the old utility. When the need is greatest, both operate at the same time. In case an excess is produced, it gets fed into the national grid or directly sold to big consumers under a new licencing system that foresees "ad-hoc" buying and selling of electricity.
The Ottignies' plant will reduce the cities' natural gas bill considerably and will same some 290 tonnes of CO2, for which it receives 850 green certificates per year.

More information:
About the European Sustainable Cities network: Sus-Cit.
For the Ottignies plant, see: La Libre Belgique: Ottignies voit la ville en vert or in Dutch, Flemish Information Centre on Agriculture and Horticulture: Ottignies combineert WWK-installatie met koolzaadolie.

Information about CHP and co-generation systems:
The European Association for the Promotion of Cogeneration: COGEN EUROPE
Belgium: Belcogen; Cogen Vlaanderen.
Finland: High cogeneration performance by innovative steam turbine for biomass-fired CHP plant in Iisalmi
CHP Association

Article continues