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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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Sunday, January 14, 2007

ASEAN Summit: 16 Asian nations agree on boosting energy security, biofuels

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), convening in Cebu, the Philippines, for its annual summit, is to create a tighter political bloc, turn the region into a free-trade zone by 2015 and fight harder against terrorism, poverty and threats to energy security.

China, Japan and South Korea, who are participating in the expanded East Asia Summit involving ASEAN and its six "dialogue partners", hope to join the Southeast Asian grouping's economic circle. The other dialogue partners are Australia, New Zealand and India.

Together, these 16 nations are expected to agree to boost Asia's energy efficiency and combat climate change by seeking new fuel sources, particularly biofuels, according to a draft document approved by foreign ministers. The "Cebu Goals on East Asian Energy Security" are to be signed on Monday by the heads of government.

The plan aims to help countries reduce their dependence on conventional fuels through intensified energy efficiency programmes, expansion of renewable energy systems and biofuel production and utilization.

The accord does not say what types of biofuels might be emphasised and does not give specific details of the kinds of energy efficiency programmes being considered. But some ASEAN countries such as Malaysia have started working to commercially produce alternative fuels such as biodiesel, comprising mainly palm oil, and ethanol made from the sap of nipah trees. The 10-member Association will also work towards freer trade on biofuels and a standard on biofuels used in engines and cars.

Minimising greenhouse gas emissions and investing in infrastructure - such as a regional electricity grid and a natural gas pipeline spanning Southeast Asia - to ensure stable energy supplies are among the draft agreement's other goals:
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The blueprint provides no timeframe for these goals, which underscore increasing efforts by ASEAN in recent years to enhance energy cooperation and alleviate the impact of high oil prices.

Hosting the Summit, Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo - in a statement expected to be issued at the end of ASEAN's annual summit over the weekend ahead of the wider East Asian conclave - says ASEAN wants to work with neighboring countries to explore alternative energy resources and sustain financial growth.

Government leaders have "noted with concern the prolonged rise in oil prices and the difficulties (posed) to the economic growth and development of ASEAN member countries and the region," said a draft of Arroyo's statement.

Fuel stockpiling
The energy security agreement also encourages countries to explore possible modes of fuel stockpiling through regional arrangements, and urges oil-rich nations to channel petroleum profits toward equity investments and low-interest loan facilities for other developing countries.

The draft, which was approved by foreign ministers, also calls for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions but offers no regional targets, unlike the European Union, which this week proposed ambitious cuts as part of its new energy policy.

ASEAN has talked about strategic oil storage before but a stockpiling agreement has never been signed, with high fuel prices making it expensive for developing countries. Tokyo and Seoul, both required to hold reserves as members of the International Energy Agency (IEA), have been pushing neighbours to build up government reserves.

The inaugural East Asian summit held in Kuala Lumpur last year already expressed "grave concern" over the negative impact of a prolonged increase in oil prices on the region's growth prospects.

At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, another regional initiative held recently in Vietnam, South-East and East Asian countries agreed to create a Biofuels Taskforce aimed at studying and implementing bioenergy projects across Asia (earlier post).


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