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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 21, 2006

Deutsche Bank and BP: 21st century will be the era of bioenergy

At the Bioenergy Europe 2006 conference held last week at EuroTier in Hanover, Germany, top speakers from investment banking, oil and agriculture stressed the major role bioenergy will play in the world's future energy supply, calling it the leading industry of the 21st century.

Dr. Norbert Walter, Chief Economist of Deutsche Bank and Dr. Uwe Franke, Head of BP Germany, forecast that bioenergy, and supporting biomass production, will determine the future of energy to a large extent and on a global scale.

Dr. Franke's keynote speech "Potential and Opportunities for Alternative Energy Resources" [*.pdf] sums up the reasons why bioenergy will play such a significant role in the 21st century and offers the perspective of how an oil company wants to be part of this revolution:
(1) Climate change is the top issue of the 21st century. There is no scarcity of energy resources; there is a scarcity of clean energy resources.
(2) In ten years time CO2 will be traded as a commodity on a truly global market. Technologies with only little or no CO2 emissions will thus become attractive.
(3) Therefore BP is investing into alternative energies. Last year it founded
“BP Alternative Energy” comprising investments of US$ 8 billion to 2015. The aim is to arrive at annual sales of US$ 6 billion. The focus is renewable energies and carbon free power production on the basis of (bio-)hydrogen.
(4) Bioenergy is one of the big business opportunities of the 21st century. BP is meeting this challenge: In June 2006 we founded “BP Bio-fuels Business”. In addition we intend to create the “BP Energy Biosciences Institute” for research and further development of bio-energy, in particular of liquid biofuels. This institute will be funded with US$500 million.
(5) Bioenergy offers new opportunities for agriculture and energy companies alike. Bioenergy potential is huge and is renewing itself continuously. But the potential is also limited and can not be completely reserved at the same time for a variety of different areas.
(6) Competition of using bioenergy between areas like food, heat, power, chemicals and fuels has to be taken into account and has to be analysed much deeper.
(7) Main areas of bioenergy use should be developed by the market. In about ten years pricing of CO2 will be a major market factor.
(8) Bio-energy’s innovation potential has to be explored. Innovation may also mean genetic modification in the areas of energy and industry biomass.
(9) The future of biofuels lies in its next generation. Large scale CO2 emissions reduction and substitution of fossil fuels can only be achieved with advanced biofuels. The expectation is that in 2050 approximately 30 % of the world's fuel pool can consist of biofuels.
(10) Advancing biofuels has to be undertaken commonly by the car industry, agriculture and the oil industry as well as governments and it has to be done on the European level. Key criteria for supporting bio-fuels should be quality, CO2 emissions reduction, technology openness and freedom of trade.
Note that Dr Franke explicitly excludes the developing world from his view, knowing well that the real potential lies there (earlier post). Energy crops grown in the tropics and subtropics yield so much more usable biomass, that next-generation biofuels produced in the North (including cellulosic ethanol) can never compete with biofuels produced in the South (and traded on a global market). The only entrance for the oil industry into the biofuels sector - now largely dominated by agribusiness - is via high-tech, second generation bioconversion technologies (earlier post). This is why the oil industry is not keen on promoting the South's competitiveness (based on first generation technologies; if the South starts introducing second-generation conversion technologies using its own energy crops, it becomes even more competitive).

Norbert Walter's keynote speech, "The 21st Century: The era of bioenergy? Opportunities and challenges for governments, businesses and agriculture" [*.doc] takes a broader perspective and indicates how bioenergy will enhance energy security on a global scale. He also points out that of all renewables, only bioenergy has a sufficiently large potential to replace fossil fuels in any significant way. Walter finally makes a case study on Germany and concludes that biomass and bioenergy already make up 70% of Germany's renewably produced energy:
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The 20th century was the age of fossil fuels. At the beginning of the 1970s, that is even before the first oil price shock, fossil fuels such as crude oil, natural gas and coal together met roughly 85% of global primary energy demand. In volume terms, oil was the leading input. Renewables, by contrast, accounted for “only” about 14%, with bioenergy making up the lion’s share (nearly 12%). Since then, energy consumption has roughly doubled. The production volumes of all fuels have expanded.

The oil share of total consumption has diminished. By contrast, the nuclear energy share has increased substantially from a low level and the natural gas share, too, has risen on higher demand. The renewables’ share has remained stable. Above all, this is thanks to bioenergy, as bioenergy generation has inceased just as strongly as overall global energy demand.

True, fossil fuels are good, but in the long run they are not good enough to ensure sustainable energy policies – at least as technology stands today. As the global demand for energy will continue to rise strongly over the coming decades, environmental and supply targets in particular call for an improved energy mix – not only globally but also at the national and European levels.

Primary energy consumption is forecast to rise by roughly 60% by 2030. In order for bioenergy to double its share by that date, additional volume expansion in excess of 200% would be required. This fact clearly illustrates that we cannot rely on bioenergy alone in the 21st century. Worldwide, the usable farmland and forests for example set a limit that can only be increased by using tools like green biotech, higher-yield fertilisers or agricultural machinery. Still there is no doubt: We are on the threshold of a new “era of bioenergy” in the 21st century. Bioenergy is one of the great hopes for improving our energy mix.

Renewable resources enable a more economical use of fossil fuels and thereby help reserves to last longer. When they are burnt their impact on the global climate is far less negative than that of fossil fuels. The only jack-of-all-trades among the renewables, bioenergy has huge potential in all areas of use:

-Bioenergies are used primarily for decentralised applications in the power and heating sectors. They thus offer at least local and regional protection against large-scale power outages like those recently in North America and Europe. Moreover, bioenergies reduce the vulnerability of entire economies to surges in the prices of oil and natural gas, heating oil and fuels.

-The early promotion of bioenergies in Germany and the EU is giving us a technological edge. These investments could prove highly lucrative if technology exports to the energy-hungry and populous countries of China and India can be successfully organised. The range extends from small-scale heating plant for households to high-volume production facilities for manufacturing biodiesel for the booming car markets in emerging nations.

-The renewable energy segment offers traditional farmers an interesting alternative source of income given that farm subsidies will tend to decline in future. If established farmers and forestry engineers become modern “energy managers”, two birds can be killed with one stone: the energy of the future, biomass, would receive the necessary expert support and the financial prospects for rural inhabitants would be stabilised.

-Biomass is much more important for the energy mix in Germany than often assumed and it is already undergoing constant expansion at breakneck speed. In 2005, for example, biomass supplied the bulk (almost 70%) of all energy (electricity, heating and fuel) generated from renewable sources. Biomass benefits from its diverse range of applications. The bioenergy share of primary energy consumption in 2005 was, however, just 3.3%.

• Biomass is – in volume terms – the only important renewable source for the manufacturing of fuels. In 2005 the biomass share of final energy consumption in the transport sector rose to 3.6% (2003: 0.9%). In Brazil, for example, ethanol covers around 30% of total demand of fuel.

• Biomass dominates the segment for heating generated from renewable sources. Its share of the heating market reached 5.1% in 2005 (2003: 3.8%). There is however still no effective heating legislation. Only in power generation is biomass not the leading renewable source of energy. This segment is dominated by windpower and hydropower. The biomass share of electricity generated is 2.2% (2003: 1.2%) – thanks to a significant boost from the amendment to the energy law. This all goes to show what is possible if the state sets the right course for the economy, farmers and forestry engineers. Bioenergy is therefore likely to play a pivotal role in the German government’s new energy concept, which will be unveiled in mid-2007.

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Boosting science and technology in Africa to tap continent's bioenergy potential

No doubt it is interesting to know that sub-Saharan Africa has a large technical bioenergy potential (earlier post), and it might be good to understand that it may boost economies, alleviate poverty, reduce greenhouse gases and strengthen energy security. But exploiting the continent's bioenergy potential in an efficient and economical way requires a great number of resources that must be optimalised: from institutional capacity building, to investments in infrastructures, over technology transfers and the creation of markets, - the challenges are enormous.

It would also be unsound to stand by and see a one-way traffic develop whereby foreign knowledge, technology and capital are the main input, while Africa just 'offers' its land, labor and biomass resources to outside actors. Instead, a strategy in which local capacities are strengthened will yield much better long term results. One of the most important sectors in Africa that needs strengthening in this respect, is that of basic science and technology (S&T). Without performant S&T capacities, the continent will remain reliant on outside expertise for its development. The world may well see an African Green Revolution in the 21st century, but will it be driven by Africans themselves?

The challenges of boosting S&T in Africa
In order to make sure it will, several initiatives are underway. Today, a major congress on science and technology in Africa kicks off in Cairo, Egypt, organised by the African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology (AMCOST) (which has a comprehensive bioenergy program). The congress builds on the earlier three-day Congress of African Scientists and Policymakers, organised by the African Union in Alexandria, Egypt, from 27-29 October. At this event, African scientists and politicians proposed a wide range of measures to boost S&T on the continent, ranging from more flexible visa laws for greater mobility of scientists, to the creation of a continent-wide scientific advisory committee.

One proposal recommended that every member set aside one per cent of the annual gross domestic product to fund science and technology programmes to aid Africa's development. To encourage the African diaspora to contribute to their homeland's scientific development, African countries should facilitate low-cost direct remittances to send funds back home, the delegates said:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The delegates put forward 50 individual suggestions, of these 10 were chosen to be submitted to a meeting of African science and technology ministers that was recently held in Cairo, Egypt. If approved, the suggestions will also be presented at the next AU summit meeting of heads of state being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2007 under the theme of science, technology and innovation.

Several speakers urged that African governments make their own commitment to increasing support for science and technology, rather than leave this to the private sector or international finance institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

"To change the face of Africa, this is the chance," said Nagia Essayed, AU Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology. "We might not have enough financial resources, but unless we put our own money into this, we won't get others to believe in us."

The conference drew up a declaration urging African governments to "create favourable conditions for mobility of scientists, engineers and technicians" by introducing more flexible visa laws for scientists and dedicating future summits to science, technology and innovation.

Other recommendations included strengthening intellectual property rights to encourage innovation, establishing specialised research centres for developing local technologies and upgrading science and technology education in schools.

Over 120 scientists and politicians attended the conference, from nearly all of the AU's 53 member states. The conference saw much lively debate over how to best use science and technology to alleviate the suffering of the majority of the continent's 880 million people.

Africa lags in development because it remains colonised, argued Sadeg Faris, a Libyan emigrant and chief executive officer of eVionyx, a New York-based energy company. "If you look around you in Africa, you will not find anything that was invented or developed here," says Faris. "That's because the continent is forced to sell its raw materials cheaply in order to buy expensive technologies developed in the West. It's a vicious cycle."

But mathematics professor Aderemi Kuku, a Nigerian emigrant working at Miami University in the United States, said Africa's problems had a simpler origin, namely that it was unprepared to invest enough in scientific infrastructure. "Where there's a will, there's a way," said Kuku. "But our countries have never demonstrated this will."

Boosting basic science
The African Union congress on science and technology led to today's congress held in Cairo. African scientists have urged leaders to carry out science initiatives that will improve the lives of Africa's poor, and to popularise science and technology at grass-root level.

The participants — scientists and representatives from nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) — said governments should cooperate more with NGOs to implement 'basic science' initiatives that improve the lives of Africa's poor by using science to solve everyday problems.

Fred Oladeinde, president of The Foundation for Democracy in Africa, a US-based NGO, said governments and NGOs have separate strengths, and should work together to promote science in Africa.

"Governments should not get involved in implementation, they're not efficient. And that's where NGOs should come in and leave the legislation to the politicians," he told SciDev.Net.

Delegates recommended establishing continent-wide exchange programs for students and researchers, and creating a database for science and technology experts in Africa and among the diaspora.

Other proposals included holding innovation competitions at national, regional and continental-level, and strengthening science curricula in African schools.

African Union summit on science, technology and innovation
From these two congresses, a final list of proposals will be drawn up and submitted to the landmark African Union summit meeting in January 2007 on science, technology and innovation. It is expected that at this meeting, African heads of states will unite to form a comprehensive and continent-wide strategy to promote science on the continent.

A forum, created by Scidev.net allows experts, stakeholders and ordinary readers interested in African S&T issues to debate topics they would want to see discussed at this important AU summit. The forum can be accessed here.

More information:
Congress of African Scientists and Policymakers - Alexandria, Egypt 27-29 October 2006
African Ministerial Council on Science & Technology (AMCOST)
AMCOST: Building a sustainable energy base - a look at the AMCOST bioenergy program
SciDev.net: AU congress suggests how to boost African science - November 2, 2006

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Forest products and the bioeconomy, a growing synergy

In this era of high fossil fuel prices, global warming and unsustainable consumption, many are starting to look at the 'bioeconomy' as a new industrial paradigm that can tackle our most pressing issues by relying on energy, raw materials and products derived from biomass and no longer on climate destroying petroleum, coal and natural gas. In this context, a lot of public attention and scientific research is focused on energy crops grown for the production of biofuels and biomaterials. Less well known is the fact that existing forests too can contribute in a significant way to the growth of the high-tech bioeconomy.

Scott Miller of BioconversionBlog wrote an interesting article illustrating how the United States is reviving its forest products industry with these goals in mind. The program may stimulate other countries in looking at their forestry sector with new eyes. Recently released is the Forest Products Industry Technology Roadmap [*.pdf] which provides a framework for reinventing and reinvigorating the industry through technological innovations in processes, materials, and markets. The Roadmap provides a summary of priority technical challenges and research needs of the U.S. forest products industry, and highlights opportunities for partnerships with researchers and funding organizations.

Seven Technology Platforms provide focus for R&D:
  1. Advancing the Forest “Bio-Refinery”
  2. Sustainable Forest Productivity
  3. Breakthrough Manufacturing Technologies
  4. Advancing the Wood Products Revolution
  5. Next Generation Fiber Recovery and Utilization
  6. Positively Impacting the Environment
  7. Technologically Advanced Workforce
According to Miller, the time for a technological renaissance is now. Not only is demand for change the greatest that it has ever been, but also the "aging process infrastructure" of the industry is reaching the end of its lifecycle. Due to be replaced are Tomlinson boilers and other biomass- or fossil fuel-based boilers that are used for energy production and chemical recovery:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The FPI is calling for new investment in what it calls "Forest Biorefineries". Utilizing emerging technologies, these "optimized forest biorefineries would produce new streams of biomass-derived, high-value chemicals, fuels, and electric power while continuing to meet the growing demand for traditional wood, pulp, and paper products. This evolution could more than double economic returns on the industry’s manufacturing assets, create a significant U.S. manufacturing base for renewable transportation fuels, and help meet the nation’s need for clean, diverse, domestic energy supplies."

In addition to fulfilling functions such as providing combined process heat and power and/or recovering the pulping chemicals for re-use, the gasifiers would produce syngas, consisting largely of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Depending on the economics of the situation, the syngas could then be burned in gas turbines to produce steam and power, used as a replacement for fossil fuels (such as natural gas in a lime kiln or fuel oil in a power boiler), or converted into transportation fuels, including Fischer-Tropsch liquid fuels or pure hydrogen.

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China National Petroleum Corp launches biofuel project in Sichuan

The Chinese government has an ambitious biofuels agenda, aiming to produce 12 million tonnes of biodiesel and ethanol per year by 2020 (earlier look at China's biofuels program). In order to do so it is investing in land, labor and biotechnology, at home and abroad. The country's biofuels intentions have been taken up in China's 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) which calls for 'sustainable development', reduction of urban pollution, and reducing dependence on foreign oil - all by investing in bioenergy. Gradually, the People's Republic is refining its biofuels policy. One of the instruments aims to guarantee that investments in the sector are secured against fluctuations in oil prices (earlier post).

Now China's largest oil and gas producer, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), unveiled a clean energy project in Sichuan Province that fits into the country's biofuels ambitions. The company said it aims to produce 100,000 metric tons of biodiesel and 600,000 tons of ethanol.

CNPC inked a deal with the Sichuan provincial government to set up the biofuel base in Western China, it said in a statement. The project is based on biofuel technology co-operation between CNPC and four global energy companies. The oil firm did not name the four partners, only stating the project is designed to bridge the gap between energy demand and supply in China and make Sichuan a role model in clean energy production and consumption.
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

CNPC is making the move to invest in the future and relieve pressure on China's tightened energy supply, said a senior analyst from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner.

"It is a wise move for oil giants like CNPC and Sinopec to gear up preparation for future business development by investing in renewable energy such as bio-fuel," the expert, who went by the name Su, said.

Su pointed out that at the present stage, the development of bio-diesel is still far from profitable, given hefty costs and technological complexity.

"Also, capacity cannot be raised substantially in the short term, because of the lack of raw material," Su added.

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US and Indonesia to cooperate on biofuels

Quicknote bioenergy cooperation
As we reported earlier, after attending the APEC summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, President Bush visited Indonesia for talks with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The latter said the Indonesian and the US governments have agreed to cooperate in the development of biofuel to enable the two countries to become less dependent on oil.

'On energy, we (Indonesia and US) are going to cooperate in biofuel development. The US government is ready share technologies and other matters related to the development of alternative energy,' Yudhoyono said during a joint media briefing with the US President George W. Bush late last night.

Bush said it is in the world's interest to develop alternative sources of energy: 'For security and economic purposes, America must spend research money to enable us to have alternative sources of energy. I'm committed to sharing technologies as they develop, to help us all become less dependent on oil,' Bush said [entry ends here].
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Argentina creates biofuels chamber to boost green fuel development

Argentina is a potential biofuels superpower. Already one of the world's leading agricultural producers, the country recently approved an ambitious piece of legislation on biofuels. The policy work has been remarkable in its comprehensive scope: not only has it resulted in a series of technical and fiscal measures aimed at promoting secure investments in the sector, it also took into account the potential social benefits of a biofuels industry (earlier post).

Now the country's nascent bioenergy sector has created the Argentine Biofuels Chamber (ABC), a professional international trade association that will coordinate and interact with a broad range of cooperators from the public and private sectors as well as academia.

ABC's membership is comprised of foreign and Argentine feedstock and feedstock processor organizations, biofuel suppliers, fuel marketers and distributors, fellow industry associations, and technology providers.

The Argentine biofuel industry is in its infancy and needs to be nurtured to have sound laws enacted and comprehensive information available to all participants.

Hence, ABS's stated goals are:
  • To promote international trade, foreign direct investment and biofuel technology transfers to Argentina;
  • To promote free commerce and efficient markets and the use of ethical standards within the community;
  • Through its activities, to increase economic development in Argentina and well-being of its inhabitants;
  • To develop and strengthen ties between its members and other institutions, both public and private, domestic and foreign; with an eye to developing a world-class biofuels industry second to none in the world.
Launched recently in Buenos Aires, its founding members include US investors looking to break into the booming biofuels industry, European biofuel associations eager to purchase the sector’s output, and international vendors seeking to sell equipment and services:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Eearlier, Argentina had already signed a biofuel cooperation agreement with Brazil, the regional leader in the field (earlier post), but the ABC tries to take cooperation forward to a more global scale.

Argentina is the third-largest global producer of soybeans, with estimated soybean area and production of 41.3 million metric tons (MMT) and 15.5 million hectares (MHAS) respectively for the marketing year 2006/2007 (MY2006/07), according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

Argentina enthusiastically embraced the use of Genetically Modified Crops (GMO) crops a decade ago, and now upwards of 98% of the country’s soybean production is GMO. Argentina is the world’s second largest producer of GMO crops after the United States.

Glyphosate-tolerant (“Roundup-Resistant”) soybeans were the first GMO crop introduced into Argentine agriculture. The rate of adoption places Argentina second only to the US in the use of this type of soybean.

The current Argentine soybean economy is geared almost entirely towards exports, with only 2% of harvested soybeans reaching the domestic market. Thirty percent is exported as grain and 68 percent is processed by the oilseed industry within Argentina. Ninety-three percent of soybean oil and ninety-nine percent of by-products (meals) are then exported, according to FAS.

Argentina is forecast to supply more than 50% of world soybean oil exports and more than 40% of soybean meal exports in MY2006/07. Major markets will continue to be China and India.

The USDA also estimates Argentina’s sunflower seed production and area at 3.8 MMT and 2.2 MHAS, respectively.

It’s that pool of potential feedstocks that the nascent Argentine biofuels industry would like to tap.

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