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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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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Turning pest into profit: water hyacinth biogas project in India

Earlier we noted that one of the world's most damaging weeds, the water hyacinth, holds a lot of potential as a bioenergy feedstock, especially in the tropics where the invasive species with its incredible biomass productivity (17 tonnes per hectare per day, doubling its biomass each week) untiringly colonizes backwaters, rivers, tributaries, lakes and ponds, where it absorbs a large quantity of nitrogen, phosphorus and nutrients from water. It affects inland navigation and poses serious threats to fishing, irrigation and the drinking water supplies of millions of people.

Now the Kottappuram Integrated Development Society (KIDS) of India which promotes 'bottom-up' environmental and bioenergy services for thousands of poor people, is taking on its most challenging project to date: using the hyacinth as a major resource to enhance access to energy, drinking water and mobility. With the support of the India-Canada Environment Facility (ICEF), KIDS will implement the Water Hyacinth Project through "self-help groups" (an approach often found in India, whereby villagers teach each other how to implement projects).

Organic products instead of plastics
"The project will provide livelihood for poor rural women. It is expected to become a model for eco-restoration of water bodies infested with water hyacinth," KIDS Director Fr Johnson Panketh says [G-cache]. The local bodies and the government spent a major portion of their revenue on de-weeding water hyacinth. But according to KIDS, they failed miserably in their mission as the weed spreads incredibly fast. Under these circumstances, the research wing of KIDS explored the possibility of converting the water hyacinth's fibres as a raw material to make value-added products like bags, purses, baskets and containers.

“The project will be instrumental in ensuring cleaner water bodies. It will also reduce the cost of de-weeding and serve as an alternative for plastic products. It will go a long way in influencing policy makers to formulate effective and profitable management of inland water resources infested with water hyacinth,” said Fr Jobby Kallarackal, Assistant Director, KIDS. Training would be given to 10 self-help groups for skill upgrading and design development of water hyacinth handicraft. Awareness programmes will also be held at various villages, said Sunny George, project director.

Organic fertilizer and biogas
KIDS also found additional advantage in the project by making high-quality vermi compost and vermi water which can be used as fertiliser, Fr Panketh said.
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At a two-day state-level dissemination workshop entitled "Water hyacinth - A menace turned into resource" on the KIDS' campus at Kottappuram, Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran, who was the chief guest at the function, said that the Water Hyacinth Project had a futuristic vision. He inaugurated the biogas plant functioning with water hyacinth as raw material. "It is an innovative natural resource management project which should be replicated in many areas to remove the menace while making effective utilisation of the resource potential for a livelihood", said Satyanarayana, Director of ICEF.

Water hyacinth biogas projects would be very beneficial in Central Africa, where the weed poses great damage to the livelihoods of many people.

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Malaysian plantation goes green to earn carbon credits

An oil palm plantation yields a huge amount of "waste" biomass that normally gets burned in the open air. For each ton of palm oil produced, around 5 tons of palm fronds, 1 ton of palm trunks, 1 ton of empty fruit bunches, 750kg of press fibre, half a ton of palm nut kernels and a few hundred kilos of palm kernel press cake becomes available as "waste". Added to this, the processing of fresh fruit bunches coming from one hectare, releases some 100 tonnes of 'palm oil mill effluent', an organic sludge. In total, one hectare of Elaeis trees yields some 5 tons of oil, and 40 tons of solid residual biomass. Now if this biomass is burned, a lot of CO2 is released into the atmosphere. It would be wiser to use this solid biomass for energy production, so that the CO2 emissions are not released in vain and don't contribute to global warming.

It is becoming apparent that oil palm plantations have to clean up their act on almost all fronts. Instead of expanding and destroying more rainforest, they should intensify and develop higher yielding varieties that can increase productivity on plantations that already exist. The practise of clearing and burning rainforests not only means eliminating its biodiversity (which is bad enough), it also means releasing enormous amounts of dangerous CO2 into the atmosphere. Instead of burning waste streams and diverting mill effluents into rivers, the energy contained in the waste should be used, as green energy.

This is exactly what one of Malaysia's oldest estates, United Plantations Bhd, is now doing. The plantation's new bioenergy facilities make it one of the country's first companies to start earning carbon credits. A new biomass power plant and a biogas plant have been installed. The first plant uses the solid biofuels, whereas the biogas plant uses palm oil mill effluent and easily degradable biomass.

The two power systems will reduce dependence on fuel oil (diesel) that is used in the plantations' housing, processing and transport facilities. More importantly, they will slash the amount of carbon coming from the plantation by up to 40 per cent per year. These reductions will be reflected as carbon credits, so-called 'certified emission reductions' (CERs) of greenhouse gases, that it agreed last year to sell to the Danish government, as part of a Clean Development Mechanism project (the 'registered projects' database shows there are several similar projects with palm oil waste biomass under review):
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CERs are beginning to be traded in a small but growing market in Europe, as part of efforts to meet targets under the Kyoto Protocol. The European 'Emissions Trading Scheme' (ETS) puts a cap on how much producers can emit and allow them to buy carbon credits to offset what they cannot reduce.

The company is also launching a new variety of oil palm that could yield roughly 40 per cent more per hectare than its current crops produce. The new variety could produce up to 8 tonnes a hectare, compared with 5.65 tonnes for the current varieties, and the national average of 3.85 tonnes. Bek-Nielsen said its research centre had made a technological breakthrough in tissue cultivation and oil palm seed cloning.

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Quicknote archives for August 2006

From now on we will be publishing a monthly archive of our 'quick notes' section. The original articles they refer to often disappear from the original websites' archives or become inaccessible, and we too used to remove them after a while. We will now change this, because we think the notes contain the essence of the original messages which might be useful for future reference. We will be doing the same for the 'crop news' section.

India Biofuels Corp. lines up €21mio in Madhya Pradesh to plant japtropha on 50,000 ha of wasteland. State government's policy is aimed at employing local people in the bioenergy sector via self-help groups. The company plans to bring 1 mio ha under jatropha within in 10 years, with an expected production of 3 million tonnes of biodiesel.
Iris News Digest - August 30, 2006.

Hungarian plastics company and investment holding Pannonplast Nyrt plans to participate in bioenergy projects worth a combined €200 million by 2008.
BBJ Hungary - August 30, 2006.

Abengoa SA, one of the world's largest agribizz companies, posted a net growth of 67.4% in the first half of this year, on strong performance of Abengoa Bioenergy, the group's core division. Abengoa has a large portfolio of activities in Latin America.
Forbes - August 30, 2006.

Gasoline prices in parts of the vast country of Congo-Kinshasa are spiralling out of control, up from CF850 (€1.53/$1.98) to CF1200 (€2.17/$2.77) per litre (US$10.41 per gallon). More people calling for the introduction of biofuels, which, with these prices, are seen as instant 'green gold'.
Le Potentiel - August 27, 2006.

Tiny African island state of São Tomé e Príncipe hires German experts to study the islands' biomass potential for energy - despite the fact that São Tomé e Príncipé owns vast unexploited oil reserves.
Macau Hub - August 26, 2006.
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More companies in Southern Vietnam resorting to catfish fat as biodiesel feedstock. Residues from the booming catfish industry also to be used for biogas production.
Vietnam Economy - August 25, 2006.

Zambia could satisfy its fuel needs entirely by biofuels, ministry of energy permanent secretary, Buleti Nsemukila, has said.
African News Dimension - August 23, 2006.

Vietnam's government announces nation biofuel policy to be included in 2006-2010 and 2010-2015 Planning periods.
VietnamNet - August 23, 2006.

ASEAN countries to discuss biofuels cooperation in order to combat high oil prices.
Brunei Direct - August 23, 2006.

Biodiesel from palm oil is a viable alternative fuel when crude oil prices hover at US$ 70 per barrel Malaysian Palm Oil Board says. There were doubts about this given the rising prices of crude palm oil (CPO), now standing at US$ 435 per ton.
The Edge Daily - August 22, 2006.

German company Peter Cremer will build a large biodiesel process plant on Singapore's Jurong Island. A project of 24 million Singapore dollars (about 15 million U.S. dollars), the facility is expected to produce a maximum of 200,000 tons of biodiesel annually from palm oil.
Peoples Daily Online - August 22, 2006.

Leading German biogas systems company Schmack Biogas AG enters the US market by buying a 30% stake in US firm Bio-Energy LLC.
Finanznachritchten - August 17, 2006.

Japan sees biodiesel boost with new fuel standards. The country has been lagging behind other major economies when it comes to biofuels policies, but it is very active in importing green fuels from the developing world.
Reuters - August 17, 2006.

The California legislature is considering a law that would make California the first U.S. state to impose a binding limit on greenhouse gas emissions. Bioconversion Blog analyses pros and cons.
Bioconversion Blog - August 16, 2006.

Joint-venture aimed at integrating livestock and ethanol operations: U.S. company Hybrid Fuels has reached an agreement in principle with the A4 Bar Cattle Company Ltd. in Alberta, Canada covering a proposed joint venture to develop an operation for the integration of cattle “feeding-to-finish” with production of fuel ethanol.
GreenCarCongress - August 16, 2006.

Barbados' ethanol plan picking up pace with conclusion of fact-finding mission to Brazil. Barbados plans to replace 10% of gasoline with ethanol by 2009.
Caribbean Press Releases - August 15, 2006.

Czech company PLP has launched construction of a €45 million distillery for the production of bioethanol and biomass in Trmice, northern Bohemia. Capacity: 80,000 tons of ethanol, 100,000 tons of solid biomass for combustion; Feedstock: grain (sugar beet in the future).
Prague Monitor - August 15, 2006.

Malaysia's freeze on biodiesel licences will be temporary, Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui says. A few weeks ago, Malaysia stopped issueing licences to prevent the biofuel market from overheating.
Business Times (Malaysia) - August 14, 2006.

The British National Farmers Union says biofuel crops pose no threat to UK food production
Stackyard - August 14, 2006.

The small pacific island state of Vanuatu opens its second coconut biodiesel station in the capital Port Vila, after the first one was opened in the city of Luganville last month.
Pacific Islands Magazine - August 11, 2006.

Malaysia's first shipment of 60,000 tons of palm oil biodiesel will leave for Europe next week. Given high oil prices, biodiesel is fetching US$ 700 per ton, making palm biodiesel very competitive.
The Star (Malaysia) - August 11, 2006.

Iberdrola SA to invest €22 million to install a 7.7 megawatt biomass generation plant in La Coruna, North West Spain. Feedstock: woody biomass waste.
Forbes - August 11, 2006.

European Union to invest massively in biofuels production in Central America, starting with Honduras. It will help establish 200,000 hectares of Elaeis plantations, set up a logistical chain including export facilities, and deliver know-how and technology. No news yet about the amount of investment, but Hector Turcias, director of Eurocentro Honduras, estimates that in total 300,000 direct and indirect jobs might be created.
Telediario - August 9, 2006.

EthaBlog publishes part IV of the wide-ranging speech by Mr. José Walter Bautista Vidal, the father of Brazil's successful ethanol program.
EthaBlog - August 7, 2006.

Brazil's center-south ethanol exports in July hit a record 508 million liters, up nearly 90% compared to the same month a year ago, the Sao Paulo sugarcane industry association, Unica, said in a preliminary estimate.
Unica (via CattleNetwork) - August 6, 2006.

Hungary's governing Socialist Party's agricultural expert Sándor Magda, estimates that in the not too distant future, up to 40% of Hungary's energy consumption could be provided for with the generation of bioenergy from agricultural produce.
The Budapest Sun - August 6, 2006.

Video: How biomass is cutting pollution in France. Biomass is increasingly being taken up by local authorities as a cheap and environmentally sound alternative to fossil fuels. Euronews' "Terra Viva" program looks at how the French region of Bourgogne is benefiting from biomass.
Euronews - August 5, 2006.

Carotino Sdn Bhd and the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) invest €17 million in palm oil biodiesel plant in Pasir Gudang, Johor province. Capacity: 120,000 tonnes per year.
Business Times Malaysia - August 4, 2006.

DaimlerChrysler India is planning to set up a co-operative in Gujarat for the purpose of sourcing Jatropha-based bio-diesel from poor farmer families in and around the town of Bhavnagar.
Business Standard (India) - August 4, 2006.

China's national Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) to buy an extra 1 million tonnes of Malaysian palm oil for biodiesel.
Business Times Malaysia - August 4, 2006.

The U.S. Department of Energy is to invest €200 million (US$250 million) in new Bioenergy Development Centers, aimed at research next-generation biofuels, amongst them aviation biofuels. Part of U.S. aim to replace 30% of oil by 2030.
U.S. Dept. of Energy - August 3, 2006.

EthaBlog publishes part II & III of the interview with José Walter Bautista Vidal, the father of Brazil's ethanol program.
EthaBlog - August 1, 2006.

Agro-industrial giant ADM's quarterly profits double on strong ethanol and biodiesel demand.
Reuters - August 1, 2006.

Quicknote archives for august 2006 end here.

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