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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, November 07, 2006

Austrian energy firm to invest 400 million euro in bioenergy

Quicknote bioenergy investments
Austrian energy firm Wärmebetriebe GmbH, announced [*German] it is investing €400 million in combined heat and power (CHP) biogas and biomass energy systems to serve Eastern and Southern European markets. This makes it one of Europe's single largest investments in the sector.

Wärmebetriebe GmbH's daughter Kelag is already Austria's largest clean energy firm, operating 55 CHP plants and delivering district heating to a dozen of cities and urban agglomerations. 43 of those are fed by biomass and biogass. In total, the company produces some 900 million kilowatthours per year, 10% of which are green kilowatts. The investment is aimed at expanding the share of green power, through the construction of biomass power plants for electricity generation and biogas infrastructures to bring the green gas to households via pipelines.

Kelag aims to develop markets in Northern Italy, Southern Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulargia and Romania. CEO Günter Zweiner says that "the first plants in these countries will be built early next year and will be operational before the winter sets in."

Zweiner observes an important trend in the emerging bioenergy market: it is getting more and more international, with companies investing abroad and sourcing (processed or raw) bioenergy feedstocks internationally. (See our earlier post on international bioenergy trade and on the development of bioterminals in Europe - with Antwerp's plans to become a leading 'bioport' as a case-study).

In Europe, investments in biomass and biogas are becoming important ways to diversify the continent's energy portfolio. High energy prices and the problematic relationship with Russia -- Europe's main natural gas supplier -- have lead to a perception of rising long-term energy supply insecurity. Bioenergy can contribute to curbing this trend. Recently, an advisor to the German government said biogas alone can replace all Russian natural gas imports by 2020 (earlier post) [entry ends here].
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India targets biodiesel production of 1.2 million barrels per day by 2030

Quicknote bioenergy policies
During a visit to energy farmers in the central-Indian state of Chhattisgarh, India's president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam said the country plans to produce 60 million tonnes of biodiesel per annum by 2030. This is roughly 1.2 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) per day. The production of liquid biofuels for transport forms part of India's more extensive and ambitious biofuels program (earlier post).

Addressing farmers growing jatropha and karanj, biofuel crops that thrive in semi-arid zones and on low-value land, Kalam said that biofuels could transform India's long-term oil dependence scenarios. In a 25-minute interaction with jatropha farmers in Sundarkera village on the outskirts of the state capital, the president said he was very pleased to see that the shrub was being cultivated on a mass scale in the state.

'Jatropha is a vital tree for biodiesel, farmers should use only high oil-content quality saplings. They must trim at the right time in the first one year to split the tree in at least in 60 branches so that a single tree can produce 400 grams of seeds in a year,' Kalam said. The president himself is a staunch supporter of biofuels, and has developed in a keen interest in the agronomy behind cultivating energy crops.

The government and private sector majors should accelerate research in bio-fuel sector, Kalam said. Related aspects of production, marketing and processing should also be looked into, the president added. According to the Chhattisgarh government, biofuel rich plants like jatropha and karanj have the potential to help India get over its annual oil requirements which currently stand at 124 million tonnes, of which around 72 percent is met through imports at a cost of over rupee 1.5 trillion (€26.2/US$33.4 billion) [entry ends here].
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Indonesia building tens of biofuel plants, including micro-sized facilities

Quicknote bioenergy investments
Over the past few months, there has been a lot of news on Indonesia's biofuels crash program, with the state announcing that it is investing some US$ 22 million by 2010 in the sector (earlier post). The OPEC member's bioenergy initiative is expected to bring 2.5 million jobs in three years time.

We are now getting a glimpse behind the formal plans and into the actual construction of plants. An overview:
  • remarkably, the government itself has dropped plans to build large-scale facilities and has instead chosen to decentralise biodiesel production based on jatropha, in 54 micro-sized plants, spread across the country. "Initially, the government was planning to build eight big biofuel plants, but later we decided to build much smaller plants with a capacity of 300 tonnes per year each" says Effendi Sirait, the industry ministry's official in charge of biofuel development. The reasons for this change in strategy are unclear.
  • 2 state-owned companies, PT Rajawali Nusantara Indonesia and PT Perkebunan Nusantara III, are building ethanol plants, using sugar cane, and biodiesel plants, using palm oil
  • 15 private companies are building biodiesel plants, using palm oil. Total capacity: 1 million tonnes (20,000 bpd). Amongst those are Indonesian companies PT Bakrie Sumatra Plantations Tbk, PT Astra Agro Lestari Tbk and PT Asian Agri; foreign companies such as Golden Hope Plantations, Genting Bhd and Sime Darby Bhd (all Malaysian), and Singapore's Wilmar Holding Pte Ltd.
  • several other companies are building biodiesel plants outside Indonesia (notably in Singapore and Malaysia), but will rely on raw materials produced in the island state. Amongst them CMS Resources Pte Ltd, which is building two 200,000 tonnes per year biodiesel plants in Singapore. The aim is to export about 90% of its product to Europe and Japan, but the company will consider opportunities to export to China. The balance will be for Singapore.
  • 10 private companies are building ethanol plants, with cassava and sugar cane as feedstocks. Total production capacity: 170 million liters per year.
Earlier this year, the government allowed retailers to blend 10per cent of biofuels into fuel products. State oil and gas company Pertamina is retailing biodiesel, made up of 5per cent crude palm oil blended with 95percent diesel oil [entry ends here].
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