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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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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Nigeria's cassava ethanol program to yield 3 million jobs

Quicknote bioenergy economics
Nigeria has been working on a biofuels program for a very long time, and a first large-scale ethanol project involving sugar cane in the country's North-West shows the green energy industry's impressive job creation potential (the particular program in question is projected to bring in 1 million direct jobs). As we said earlier, the production of bioenergy is labor-intensive, producing much more employment than any other energy sector. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this, but for developing nations the prospect of reducing rural unemployment and the social problems that go with it, is very tantalising. Investing in biofuels and bioenergy might do the trick.

This is what the Executive Director of the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) in Umudike [non-official website, and more details here], Dr. Ken Nwosu, suggests when he stated that the full exploration and exploitation of the cassava industry would provide over three million jobs for unemployed youths.

Leading a team of the Technical Coordination Committee Meeting (TCCM) of the South East Agro-Ecological zones on a visit to Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, he said that with the country maintaining its annual production capacity of 39 million metric tonnes of cassava -- much of which would be used as an ethanol feedstock -- , Nigeria would climb to the status of a commercial and agro-industrial 'superpower'.

Dr. Nwosu said that agriculture remained the only option for mass employment, adding that the cassava industry should be maximally developed. On the position of Anambra State in the new cassava order, the executive director noted that with the collaboration of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) (which is heavily involved in the country's biofuels program), the upcoming ethanol plan in the state would ensure the creation of a ready and profitable cassava market.

He assured that with the introduction of new cassava improved varieties, cassava yields would increase to between 60 and 70 MT from its present level of 20 MT per hectares (which is not unthinkable, given recent advances in cassava research). Making the case for the Anambra State Agricultural Development Programmes (ASADEP), Dr. Nwosu appealed to Governor Peter Obi to inject more funds into ASADEP. [Entry ends here].
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Spectacular mass mobilisation in India results in planting of 3 million biodiesel saplings in 11 hours

In a spectacular announcement, the Indian state government of Chhattisgarh's Biofuel Development Authority claims to have created a world record by planting at least three million saplings of Jatropha and Karanj (Pongamia pinnata) in only 11 hours to raise awareness about the plants that are rich sources of biofuels, mainly biodiesel.

Thousands of volunteers of the National Cader Corps (NCC), schoolchildren, village representatives, teachers and officials participated in the plantation drive in all four blocks of Chief Minister Raman Singh's home district Kawardha, spread over an area of 395,800 hectares (3,958 square kilometres / 1,528 square miles). Both jatropha and karanj thrive in semi-arid land and sandy soils, don't require much care or fertilizer and yield between 1500 and 2000 kilograms of oil that can be used as a biodiesel feedstock. The 3 million seedlings will begin to yield after about 2 years, and when mature might deliver a total of around 700,000 tons or roughly 4.9 million barrels of oil. Both shrubs have a useful life of several decades.

Raman Singh, accompanied by Finance Minister Amar Agrawal, Industry Minister Rajesh Munat and Agriculture Minister Nankiram Kanwar, formally launched the campaign by planting a few jatropha saplings at Ramhepur village.

"The state government has launched the mega jatropha plantations drive with the sole objective to make India an energy-secure country by 2015," Raman Singh, who is using jatropha bio-fuel to power his official vehicle since May 2005, told a gathering of farmers at Ramhepur.

District collector Sonmoni Bora told reporters: "At least three million saplings of jatropha and karanj were planted in hundreds of villages, mainly on fallow land, to create a revolution for biofuel awareness." Bora, who coordinated the day long campaign, added that the number of saplings planted was an absolute world record. [Entry ends here].
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China unexpectedly emerging as major ethanol exporter

Earlier, we reported about China's new biofuel policies, and showed that the country already is the world's third largest ethanol producer, after Brazil and the US, though lagging on biodiesel. Surprisingly, though, China is now unexpectedly emerging as a major exporter of ethanol as record-high crude oil prices and a U.S. deficit in the biofuel have pushed up its international price, triggering an impressive investment boom.

Industry officials said China's 2006 exports of ethanol, or ethyl alcohol made largely from corn or cassava, were set to exceed 500,000 tons (625 million liters or about 11,000 barrels per day). Shipments may reach 900,000 tons (1.13 billion liters or 19,000 bpd), some traders say. It had virtually no ethanol exports for fuel last year.

Most of the ethanol cargoes go directly or indirectly to the United States due to a switch this year to use ethanol as an additive for cleaner gasoline. Some are dehydrated in Caribbean countries for use in the U.S., helped by favorable taxes. "We predict it (2006 exports) may reach 900,000 tons," said a trader at an international house. "But due to recent softening in the international market, maybe we will revise the number down, possibly by around 100,000 tons."

However, not many are convinced that China can maintain a competitive edge for fuel ethanol exports in the future, especially if it has to keep importing cassava and as there is a ethanol plant building boom in the United States. China is the world's third-largest ethanol producer, behind Brazil and the United States, but in the past has used most of its output domestically, much for use in alcohol or chemicals but increasingly as a gasoline blend in agricultural provinces.

Brazil exported about 450 million liters to the U.S. last year, only about 4 percent of its total production. For many, Chinese exports of fuel ethanol came as a surprise as there were only four fuel ethanol plants until 2005. The product is heavily subsidized by Beijing, eager to develop alternative fuels to cut China's dependence on imported oil.

Yet officials said a window of opportunity had emerged, due to a surge in global ethanol prices, helped by a U.S. shortfall estimated at 2 million tons this year. Physical prices climbed to above $5.00 a gallon in May before receding toward $2.50:

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Coupled with high crude oil prices , this has encouraged small food ethanol producers to dehydrate their products for use as fuel, they said. Many have expanded capacity and built new plants.

Data and details of the trade are patchy, partly as it is difficult to distinguish between fuel ethanol and other alcohols, including hydrous ethanol, used also in liquors or chemicals.

But an official from China Songyuan Ji'an Biochemical Sales Co. Ltd., based in the country's top corn-producing province of Jilin in the northeast, told Reuters it alone would export 300,000 tons of ethanol -- or all of its output -- this year.

Of the total, most was exports of anhydrous ethanol to the United States, though there were some hydrous ethanol exports to South Korea and Japan for manufacturing liquors, said the official from Ji'an, China's top ethanol exporter.

Customs data showed exports of ethanol, including hydrous ethanol, totaled 477.65 million liters in the first seven months of this year, up 336 percent from the same period IN 2005.

The officials said ethanol plants were also sprouting across the country, especially with the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top planning body, predicting Chinese fuel ethanol consumption will reach 6 million tons by 2020.

It was unclear how much ethanol China was producing this year, in addition to 1.02 million tons by the four government-sponsored plants in Jilin, Henan, Heilongjiang and Henan. Ji'an is also expanding its capacity to 450,000 tons by end-2006.

Yet the Ji'an official said China's total alcohol capacity, including fuel ethanol, would climb by 3 million tons to 10 million tons in 2006. It rose by 2 million last year.

"A lot of plants are being built," said the first trader, adding some of the new plants were focused on export business.

Another trader at a Beijing-based international house estimated there were now about a few thousand producers.

To avoid undermining the country's food security, Beijing is encouraging a shift in feedstocks away from grains, like corn, to non-grain crops, such as cassava, known also as tapioca.

In a sign of rising fuel ethanol production, one tapioca trader said Chinese 2006 cassava imports were heading toward 4.4 million tons, up by about 36 percent from last year.

China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Import and Export Co. (COFCO), the country's top state-owned trader, is also building a 200,000 tons per year (tpy) ethanol plant in the southern region of Guangxi, China's biggest cassava-producing province.

State media has said it is part of a plan by the Guangxi government to build 1 million tons of annual ethanol capacity.

COFCO is building another fuel ethanol plant in Hebei and doubling its alcohol capacity in Heilongjiang to 500,000 tons.

Domestic demand would depend on Beijing.

"You have to think if this export will last," said the second trader. "In the United states, they have lots of projects underway. The demand gap will narrow significantly next year."

More information:
International Herald Tribune: China emerges as major ethanol exporter - September 5, 2006.

Reuters: China emerges as ethanol exporter amid high oil - September 4, 2006.

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Market research forecasts 15-fold increase in biomass investments by 2012

Quicknote bioenergy business
Fuji Keizai, a Japanese provider of market research in the field of biotechnology, conducted a survey on the growth of the Japanese and international biomass market. Even though Japan itself has very limited biomass resources, according to the survey, the domestic biofuels and bioenergy market expects a rapid, three-fold growth in 2012 from 2005 with 25.28 billion yen (€170mio/US$218 mio) garnered from the industrialization of alternative energy using biomass and various biomass related technologies including supercritical water processing used for the production of liquid biofuels from biomass gas, generating electricity from biomass in direct combustion systems, manufacturing polylactide resin for the production of bioplastics, and the production of biogas from livestock and farming activities.

The growth forecast for the international biomass energy market shows a 15-fold increase, whereas the market for biomass related specialty products (bioplastics, green chemicals), will double by 2012. [Entry ends here].
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Dutch CO2 emissions fell 2 percent in 2005, now at 1990 levels due to imported biomass

Greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands fell by around 2 percent in 2005 from a year earlier and were at approximately the same level they were in 1990, the Central Bureau for Statistics said Monday. Climate change watchdogs generally praised the announcement, but said the public should be skeptical about how the fall in emissions was measured and what it means.

"It's a good thing, but they still have a way to go in order to meet their targets under Kyoto," said Joris Thijssen of Greenpeace, referring to the international treaty under which the Netherlands agreed to reduce its emissions to 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2010. The statistics agency said that total Dutch emissions were 214 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide or equivalents, down 2 percent from 2004 and just fractionally higher than 213 billion kilograms in 1990.

Agency spokesman Michiel Vergeer said the fall from 2004 was due to carbon dioxide emissions saved by increased use of biomass fuel for electricity generation, by households using less energy for heating during a warm winter, and by increased import of electricity.

To us, this is important, given that the Netherlands imports a lot of this biomass from the developing world: palm kernels and residues from Indonesia and Malaysia, solid biofuels (wood chips) from Brazil, Canada and West Africa.

However, each of those reasons has a downside. A warm winter could be just a fluke, or it could be due to global warming. Dutch biomass generators have been accused -- rightly or wrongly -- of buying some fuel from suppliers in developing countries who chop down old-growth forest to make room for biomass crops. And when the Netherlands imports more electricity, that means the exporters — Germany and to a lesser extent France — will have higher emissions:
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"We just report the data, it's up to others to interpret it," Vergeer said. John Hay, spokesman for the U.N.'s climate change agency UNFCCC, said the Dutch announcement was "a good sign of sound international policies," and added the U.N. would be releasing a broader report on the international emissions landscape in October.

"A group of Kyoto countries are set to have rising emissions," in 2008 he said. "Among high-performing economies some are doing well, others are off the mark." He gave the example of Spain as a country likely to miss its Kyoto targets because it has undergone faster economic growth than other parts of Europe in the past 16 years.

The Netherlands also grew fast in the 1990s, and its carbon dioxide emissions have actually risen. But that's been compensated by reductions in emissions of methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorine, greenhouse gases that are believed to contribute disproportionately to global warming.

Thijssen of Greenpeace said that the Dutch government would meet its Kyoto goals not by further reductions, but by buying pollution credits from developing countries, which is allowed under the 1997 treaty.

"Initially they said that they would aim for a 50-50 split between emissions reductions in the Netherlands and emission reductions elsewhere," he said. "Now they've let go of that."

He noted that the government last month announced a freeze on new applications for subsidies for renewable energy projects because it believes it will meet its Kyoto targets and a goal of having 9 percent of electricity generated from renewable sources by 2010.

AP: Dutch greenhouse gas emissions fell 2 percent in 2005, now at 1990 levels, agency says - September 4, 2006

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Ghana to cooperate with Thailand on biofuel development

Quicknote South South Cooperation
We are fascinated by practical South-South exchanges, and the field of bioenergy and biofuels is one where the sharing of experiences, knowledge and technology between developing nations is really speeding up.

Ghana has just recently announced that it would tap the expertise of Thailand in the large-scale production of biofuels for national consumption, vice-president Aliu Mahama said during a visit to Bangkok. He said that although Ghana had set in progress the development of biodiesel, the stride Thailand had made by way of research would illuminate the path of Ghanaian researchers.

Vice President Alhaji Mahama made this known during a visit to the palace of the King of Thailand, His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej (a staunch and long-time advocate of green energy, who has even patented his own biodiesel production process). His remarks followed the announcement by the Deputy Director of the Royal "Chitralada" Projects, Ms Rosarin Smitabhim that the Asian State would be switching to the use of biodiesel and gasoline next year.

She said currently the official vehicles of the King were being powered solely by biofuels. The Royal projects include a solar energy system that could serve a large area of Bangkok, the use of rice chaff for charcoal production, recycling of used household oil for soap and the manufacturing of candles from bee wax.
There are also experimental rice fields, fruits and vegetable processing factories, medicinal plant garden and conservation of plant genetic resources.

Ghana's vice-president Alhaji Mahama described the projects as "excellent" with the potential of providing rural communities with income generating ventures. He said the government would send a delegation to understudy the projects to replicate them in Ghana. In a related development, Mahama held a meeting with Mr Sompong Amornvivat, Thai Trade Representative in Bangkok, to fine-tune discussions on bilateral trade and commerce relations. Mr Amornvivat said an agreement would also lead to technical cooperation, adding that he would pay an official visit to Ghana in September, 2005 to strengthen the bilateral talks. Mr Akwasi Osei-Adjei, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Cooperation and NEPAD, said Ghana was ready to offer would-be Thai investors Investment Protection Agreement packages and relief from double taxation.
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Malaysia export earnings rise on biofuels, gov't creates biofuel fund

Quicknote bioenergy economics
Malaysia, the world’s largest palm oil producer, may export 4.4% more of the commodity next year as output and prices surge amid rising interest in its use as a fuel additive, the government forecast. Overseas sales may rise to 14.6 million metric tonnes in 2007, boosting export earnings 14.5% to 24.9 billion ringgit ($6.8 billion), the ministry of finance said in its 2006/07 Economic Report.

Average prices may gain 10%, it said. Improved yields, an expansion of the area covered by mature oil-producing palms and higher prices "are expected to contribute toward higher production," said the ministry’s report, an annual assessment of the economy that’s released with the Southeast Asian nation’s budget.

Palm oil prices have risen to their highest in more than two years, spurred by rising demand from China, the US and Europe for the commodity as a renewable fuel, and its traditional use as a cooking oil. Higher crude oil costs have made biofuels - in particular biodiesel and ethanol - more competitive.

Palm oil futures reached 1,693 ringgit (€360/US$460) a tonne (US$62.7 per barrel) on August 9 on the Malaysia Derivatives Exchange, their highest since May 2004. Prices have risen 12% this year, benefiting plantation companies including IOI Corp. in Malaysia and PT Astra Agro Lestari in Indonesia. Crude palm oil is expected to average 1,500 ringgit (€320/US$408) a tonne (US$55.6 per barrel) this year, 7.6% higher than 2005, the report said. It may gain a further 10% to 1,650 ringgit in 2007. Palm oil is Malaysia’s largest source of export earnings, bringing in more than petroleum.

In the budget address, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Khazanah Nasional Bhd., Malaysia’s state investment agency, will set up a 200 million ringgit (€42.5mio/US$54.4 mio) agriculture fund to develop biotechnology as the country seeks to boost biofuel use. There’s "increasing demand for palm-oil based biodiesel," the ministry’s report said. Total palm oil production would increase by 4.3% this year to 15.6 million tonnes, and by a further 3.8% next year to 16.2 million tonnes.

The global supply of biofuels may almost double in the next five years as new plants start production, the International Energy Agency, said in July. The Paris-based agency, an adviser to 26 oil-consuming nations, analyzes energy-market trends. [Entry ends here].
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