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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 19, 2007

Nigeria's Ondo state and NNPC sign agreement on cassava ethanol production, release funds

The government of Ondo State, in Nigeria, has signed a Memorandum of Under- standing with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on the production of ethanol from cassava tubers. Pre-feasibility studies on the joint venture have already commenced on selected sites of the Okeluse forest reserve in the Ose council area of the state.

The state's Agriculture Commissioner, Mr. Ayo Ifayefunmi, said that the state was collaborating with the NNPC following the initiatives of the Federal Government on agriculture (the presidential initiative on cassava being one of those - earlier post, a new agricultural fund being another). According to the commissioner, the cassava ethanol project is meant to diversify the use of cassava, saying "it is to produce ethanol from cassava tubers and also to generate power which will be supplied to the national grid to serve neighbouring communities."

Cassava not only yields starchy tubers from which ethanol can be made, a considerable amount of lignocellusic biomass is harvested as well. This last type of solid biomass , in combination with cassava processing residues, can be used to generate power (with which to power the ethanol plants; excess production will be fed to the grid - the resource use is similar to the sugarcane ethanol industry in Brazil, where bagasse is used as a bioenergy feedstock for power generation).

The announcement comes at a time when the Federal Government is releasing a 50 billion naira agricultural credit fund. To facilitate easy access of farmers to the loans, the Ondo State government has set up an implementation committee and a dedicated fund for its administration:
  • Ondo state makes available a total of 400 million naira (€2.4/US$3.1 million) under a 'Trust Model Fund'
  • individual farmers can access 250,000 naira (€1500/US$1950), in principle enough to establish 10 to 20 hectares of high yielding cassava
  • cooperatives/companies can avail themselves 10 million naira (€60,000/US$78,000)
  • the interest rate is eight percent repayable within a period of 18 months.
  • to further reduce bottlenecks inherent in the loan, the government has provided Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO), to the tune of 600 million naira (€3.6/US$4.7 million) to three banks in the state for easy access of the loan by farmers.
In a budget review, Ifayefunmi said that the government's budgets to the agricultural sector have witnessed an appreciable increase since the inception of the current administration in 2003:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The comissioner added that out of the total 2.094 billion naira budget for the sector between June, 2003 to December, 2006, an actual 1.5 billion naira or 72 % of the budget was spent.

716 million naira went to the purchase of fertilizer and 34 million naira to the rehabilitation and construction of 18 farm service centres. The other budget allocations were not disclosed.

Ondo State has has a considerable cassava production potential. However, prices for the root crop have been persistently low, and Nigerian authorities have been looking at ways to use the crop for industrial purposes.



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