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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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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

EU study shows urgency of low-carbon revolution to fight climate change

A new World Energy Technology Outlook study published by the European Commission's Research Directorate demonstrates the need for radical change in Europe's energy mix to face the double challenges of energy security and climate change.

The "World Energy Technology Outlook 2050" (WETO-H2) [*pdf] was presented as background to the adoption of the EU's comprehensive new energy/climate change package that was presented today.

The study predicts the development of the world's and Europe's energy system to 2050 using three different scenarios:
  1. A "reference" (or 'business-as-usual') scenario with moderate climate-change policies and short-term energy production constraints;
  2. A "carbon constraint" scenario with stronger climate-change policies, and;
  3. A hydrogen scenario, which is a variation on the "carbon constraint" scenario but predicting more hydrogen technology breakthroughs.
This is the second WETO report following the first one which was published in 2003, and the new study shows remarkable differences in results. The WETO 2050 report is also more pessimistic than the International Energy Agency's "World Energy Outlook 2006", which already contained a grim scenario (earlier post).

Some of the key messages of the different WETO-H2 scenarios include:

1. The 'business-as-usual' scenario
  • total energy consumption in the world more than doubles from the current ten Gtoe (gigaton of oil equivalent) per year to 22 Gtoe in 2050. For Europe, the increase is more modest (from 1.9 Gtoe to 2.6 Gtoe per year in 2050);
  • fossil fuels will provide 70% of this total and non-fossil (mostly renwables and nuclear) 30%; Europe will see more renewables and nuclear (40% compared to 20% now);
  • conventional oil production will level off after 2025 at around 100 Mbl/d (million barrels per day); there will be a "plateau" and not an "oil peak"; non-conventional oil will provide the increase to about 125 Mbl/d in 2050;
  • prices will reach $110 per barrel for oil and $100 boe (barrels of oil equivalent) for gas;
  • coal will return as an important source of electricity and reach a price of $110 per ton in 2050;
  • there will be more use of nuclear and renewables after 2020 ("massive after 2030"); more use of renewables and nuclear in Europe will mean that European electricity production in 70% "decarbonised" by 2050, and;
  • resulting CO2 emissions in this scenario will be between 900 to 1000 ppm (parts per million), around double that which is currently perceived by scientists as acceptable. For Europe, CO2 emissions in 2050 will be 10% less than their present level.
2. The 'carbon-constrained' scenario:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

* This scenario accepts a level of CO2 emissions close to 500 ppmv for 2050;
* global energy demand will be three Gtoe lower than in the reference scenario; renewables (30%) and nuclear (40%) will have bigger shares of electricity production but coal consumption will stagnate despite carbon capture and storage technologies;
* global CO2 emissions will be 25% higher than in 1990, but EU emissions will have been halved ("factor two" reduction); the report suggests that, in order to stay within the acceptable level of climate change of 550 ppmv of CO2 equivalent for all greenhouse gases, the world needs a "factor four reduction" but shies away from making the calculations for this scenario, as these policies would need "radical structural changes" in "mentalities, behaviour and organisations" (p. 54), and;
* in Europe, renewables will provide 22% of energy demand and nuclear 30%; the share of fossil fuels will be less than 50%, leading to enhanced energy self-sufficiency for Europe.

3. The 'hydrogen' scenario:

* Total world energy demand will be 8% less than in the reference case; the share of fossil fuels by 2050 will be less than 60%; demand for coal drops considerably but nuclear and renewables increase;
* hydrogen will provide 13% of final energy consumption compared with 2% in the reference case; half of hydrogen production comes from renewables and 40% from nuclear;
* 90% of hydrogen will be used in transport, and;
* Europe will have the following energy mix: nuclear: 33%, oil, natural gas and renewables each 20% and coal 6%.

More information:
European Commission, Directorate-General for Research: World Energy Technology Outlook 2050 [*.pdf], Jan. 8, 2007
International Energy Agency (IEA): World Energy Outlook 2006 [*.pdf]


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