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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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Monday, January 15, 2007

Philippines signs massive energy farm deals with China

The Philippines remains one of the most active players on the Asian biofuels scene. Since the government approved the Biofuels Act (earlier post), the developments and investments in the sector have entered a turbulent phase. Besides the creation of a local industry, the island state is receiving a lot of interest from China and Japan, two countries aggressively pursueing acquisitions of biofuels supplies abroad. The abundance of land, a climate suitable for tropical energy crops, a large farming community and a central geographical location in East Asia, makes the island state an ideal place for investments in the production of bioenergy feedstocks.

The Philippine government has now announced it is set to sign 19 (energy) farm agreements with China involving investments worth 240.1 billion pesos (€3.8/US$4.9 billion) over the next five to seven years.

The deals, to be signed during the state visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to the Southeast Asian country on Monday and Tuesday, included the development of 1.2 million hectares for both food crops such as rice and corn as well as biofuel crops such as sorghum and sugarcane in the Philippines.

The biggest of the deals will be a memorandum of agreement that will allow the Fuhua Group Ltd. to invest €2.96 (US$3.83) billion in one million hectares of land in the Philippines for higher-yielding corn, rice and sorghum, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said.

Yap said two agreements with total investments worth P43.4 billion (€688/US$890 million) will also be signed with the Beidahuang Group, the corporate state farm of the Hei Long Jiang province. One of the agreements with the Beidahuang Group will be for the development of 200,000 hectares for rice, corn and other crops on Luzon island in the northern Philippines.
"These agreements are expected to further reinforce existing trade and investment ties between Manila and Beijing and herald what China has described as the golden age of bilateral relations between our countries." -- Philippine Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap
Five ethanol projects will also be signed, three of them involving Nanning Yongkai Industry Group. One of the joint venture projects involving Nanning will result in the production of 150,000 liters (39,630 gallons) of ethanol per day. The production estimates of the two other projects were not disclosed.

Yap further announced an agreement would also be signed with the Agricultural Department of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to develop an initial 40,000 hectares for cassava and sugar in the Philippines to produce ethanol for export to China:

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China and the Philippines, which are both trying to cut dependence on imported oil, are turning to crops that they grow in abundance such as sugar, cassava, corn and coconut oil to produce alternative bio-fuels.

Other farm agreements include investments in fruit, flowers and fiber production.

Earlier, China and the Philippines already signed a bilateral ethanol cooperation agreement (earlier post) and concrete memoranda of agreement resulting in the approval of the construction of ethanol plants by Chinese companies in the Negros region, one of the Philippines' poorest, where local farmers will grow the feedstocks, mainly sugarcane. China intends to import the ethanol (earlier post).

The island state is also cooperating with Japanese research institutions on a biofuels R&D program, mainly aimed at supporting the development of an export-oriented green fuel industry (earlier post). A Philippine biofuels company has also launched a large coconut biodiesel project, aimed at producing fuels for export to Japan (earlier post).


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