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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, January 23, 2007

Brazil boosts biofuels sector: €6.2 billion investments, 123 new plants, pipelines by 2010

The world's leading green fuel producer is stepping up its efforts to create a global market for biofuels, in an impressive way. As part of a major industrial program launched by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, aimed at speeding up economic growth in Latin America's largest country, Brazilian companies and other investors are to pour an estimated 17.4 billion Brazilian reais (€6.2/US$8.1billion) in the country’s biofuels sector over the next four years, the Energy Ministry says.

Minister Silas Rondeau said Brazil's ethanol output would grow by 40% to 23.3 billion liters from the current 16.7 billion by 2010 and biodiesel production would grow to 3.3 billion liters from the roughly 800 million liters now.

An advisor to the minister said the figure was a forecast of investment from the public and private sectors combined and that no Treasury funds were included. Government investment would come through the state-run oil and gas company Petrobras. The new investments in Brazil's biofuels sector will result in the following, impressive numbers and projects:
  • ethanol: the construction of 77 new ethanol plants has been confirmed, which will produce about 40% more ethanol in four years time than the roughly 17.5 billion liters of ethanol the country is expected to produce in its 2006-07 sugarcane season (May-April).
  • biodiesel: the country is on track to produce four times more biodiesel by 2010, compared to the roughly 840 million liters of biodiesel that local companies are set to deliver to Petrobras by the end of this year. 46 new biodiesel plants will be built by 2010.
  • H-bio: Petrobras plans to invest 150 million reais (€54/US$70 million) to make its innovatie, vegetable oil-diesel blend called H-Bio in four refineries in the states of Minas Gerais, Parana, Rio Grande do Sul and Sao Paulo in 2007 (more on H-Bio).
  • dedicated pipelines: two ethanol pipelines spanning a combined total of 1,150 kilometers will be built by Petrobas. The first of these pipelines is a pipe running from the center-south state of Goias to Sao Sebastiao port in Sao Paulo state. Its construction has already begun (earlier post). The second is a proposed pipeline that would carry both ethanol and biodiesel. It would begin in the Mato Grosso state capital of Cuiaba and run to the country’s No. 2 port of Paranagua in the southern state of Parana. Both pipelines must serve the expanding global market for biofuels.
"These are projects that are confirmed - they have either started construction already or have the financing all set" a ministry spokesperson said:
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In addition to these pipelines, Petrobras has also committed to investing 570 million reais (€201/US$266 million) in three biodiesel plants with the combined capacity of producing 150,000 tons of biodiesel per year, with additional plants possibly underway.

"We're still negotiating with the private sector," said Jose Sergio Gabrielli, president of Petrobras. "The share (of the company's investment) is not predetermined."

Brazil has one of the world's most developed biofuels markets with over 30,000 filling stations offering motorists cane-based fuel ethanol. The country is also about to make a 2 percent biodiesel blend mandatory nationally in 2008.

The country currently has over 300 sugarcane mills that can produce ethanol, as well as a handful of biodiesel plants. It is also one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of biofuels, principally of sugarcane-based ethanol.

Last week, the president of Brazil's Cane Industry Association (Unica), Eduardo Pereira de Carvalho, said that current investments in cane milling and distillation capacity were estimated at €11/US$15 billion dollars. This figure includes sugar refining as well.


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