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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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Friday, January 26, 2007

Nigeria's NNPC launches 4 major biofuel projects covering 90,000 hectares

Bids close on January 30 for expressions of interest for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s (NNPC) Renewable Energy Division, which is seeking coinvestors for a series of joint ventures, as part of its mandate to launch a large-scale biofuels industry in Nigeria. The tender was advertised in the South African and international press in December. The biofuels programme aims at leveraging Nigeria's vast agricultural potential to create wealth, employment and sustainable development in Africa's most populous country (earlier post).

The initial phase of the programme includes the launch of four large-scale joint ventures, besides a set of fertiliser production plants and extension services that have already been created. The initiatives look as follows:
  • the establishment of two sugarcane plantations covering 20,000 hectares, each with an ethanol, sugar and cogeneration plant
  • a 10,000 hectare cassava farm with an ethanol plant
  • a 20,000 hectare palm-oil plantation with an oil-extraction and biodiesel-conversion plant
  • to strengthen the linkage between the oil and agriculture sectors, the NNPC has set up six agricultural resource and extension service centres
  • plans to establish seven gas-fed fertiliser plants have reached an advanced stage; the plants will have a combined capacity of over ten million tons of fertiliser a year
  • feasibility studies point at Benue, Gombe, Jigawa, Taraba and Kebbi states for large scale sugarcane plantations, while Anambra, Ondo, Edo states and Federal Capital Territory were identified for large scale cassava plantations.
The NNPC will provide a 100% offtake guarantee for the biofuels produced in such ventures, but is seeking ownership in each of the joint ventures. The strategic investors will manage the operations. As part of the implementation of the project, special research initiatives will be sponsored by the NNPC to boost cassava and palm oil output in Nigeria. It is expected that the venture will lead to the setting up of several ethanol-production plants at an average cost of US$60 million each:

The corporation has secured contiguous locations for the projects from local State authorities and has initiated detailed feasibility studies with international experts and public institutions. The NNPC has received a grant of €70 000 from Germany's Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership to support detailed feasibility studies at the target locations:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

An analysis has shown that the current national average cassava yield of 15 t/ha will be marginal, while the current sugar cane yield of 60 t/ha is sufficient and thus improving cassava yields becomes an imperative.

In an lecture titled ‘Energising Agriculture Through Gross Sectorial Linkages with the Oil and Gas Industry’ at the convocation ceremony of the Federal University of Agriculture, NNPC MD Funsho Kopolokun stated that Nigeria would earn US$150 million from the biofuels initiative.

He noted that the biofuel projects, which are part of the country’s alternative energy development strategies, are geared towards using the agricultural potential in cassava and sugar cane to produce ethanol that can serve as a good alternative to petrol.

Under the initiative, two types of automotive fuels are to be developed, namely ethanol fuel and palm oil diesel. According to Kopolokun, the ethanol programme is expected to slash automotive exhaust emissions in the country, reduce domestic use of petrol and free up more crude for export.

He disclosed that the corporation renewable energy project would also contribute significantly towards meeting some of the country’s energy needs. “It will also be a major plank on which the cross-sectorial linkages between the oil, gas and agricultural sectors will be laid. “In order to sustain the envisaged linkage of the oil industry with the agriculture sector, a robust fiscal legislative framework needs to be put in place,” Kopolokun added.

He said that, as part of efforts to strengthen the linkage between the oil and agriculture sectors, the NNPC has set up six agricultural resource centres, while plans to establish seven gas-fed fertiliser plants have reached an advanced stage. The plants will have a combined capacity of over ten-million tons of fertiliser a year.

Kopolokun emphasised that the plants would meet current and future domestic fertiliser demand expected to reach 2,4 million tons in 2010 and 3,2-million tons by 2015, with the excess being exported.

Image: cassava field, central Nigeria.


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