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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 03, 2007

Philippines to dedicate land to sugarcane for bioenergy, hopes industry will bring jobs

Last year, the Philippines finally got its bioenergy legislation through parliament, after an agonising battle (earlier post) that put oil, farmer, land, and labor lobbies against each other (earlier post). Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap now announced that, as part of the governments green energy plans, new areas will be developed for the establishment of sugarcane plantations, the biomass of which will be used as feedstock for ethanol and power production. He assured consumers that there are sufficient farmlands to ensure stable sugar supply.

The minister said the Department of Agriculture (DAP), through the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), will work closely with the Department of Energy in developing the Bioethanol Program, which aims to create a viable investment climate for potential investors in the biofuels industry and ensure energy security for the country. As part of a bilateral agreement, Chinese investors have entered the opportunity and are to develop an initial 40,000 hectares of lands in the country for cassava and sugar that would be used to produce ethanol for exports to China (earlier post).

Yap said the DA will scout for new sites in more than 20 provinces situated in 10 regions across the country where sugarcane is grown.
There is enough sugar production for food use. New areas will have to be developed to supply the needs of the ethanol plants that will be set up in partnership with foreign investors. -- Philippine Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap.
From 2005 to 2006, areas planted with sugarcane reached 377,182 hectares - 64,809 hectares of those in Luzon and 312,373 hectares in Visayas and Mindanao. It is expected that the Negros provinces, some of the country's poorest, are to benefit most from the bioenergy plan (earlier post).

The Philippines regained its sugar self-sufficiency status in 2002 after having continuously increased production for the last five years. Raw sugar production for the crop period from 2003 to 2004 hit a 20-year high of 2.339 million metric tons (MMT) and exceeded the initial target of 2.16MMT. For the crop year of 2005 to 2006 which ended in August last year, raw sugar production reached 2.137 MMT, a minimal 0.6% decrease over the previous crop year's 2.151 MMT. For 2006 to 2007, raw sugar production is estimated to reach 2.24 MMT, which is more than enough for domestic consumption and projected exports to the US market, SRA figures show.

Rural jobs, poverty alleviation
Meanwhile, Philippine media as well as stakeholders in the bioenergy industry are relying on a study produced by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) (to which we referred earlier) which said that biomass-based industries will create a significant number of rural jobs and stir up economic activity in poverty-stricken areas while providing a huge amount of electricity. In this regard, the government's official news agency, the Philippine Information Agency, states that:
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"IFPRI said that biomass production is labor intensive even in industrialized countries with highly mechanized industries, unlike renewable energy and fossil-fuel production. Biomass production is specially beneficial in rural areas where agriculture is the basic source of livelihood since residues or waste from farming are important biomass energy sources in densely populated regions."

Furthermore, and still using results from the IFPRI study, it adds that "crops may actually be specifically planted to produce biomass, although this may raise concern on the competition posed by crops for biomass against those for food. It further said that competition can be minimized if degraded land and surplus agricultural land are targeted for energy crops. Though these lands are less productive, targeting them for bio-energy plantations can have secondary benefits including restoration of degraded lands, IFPRI said.

The report also cited another benefit of devoting land for biomass which is carbon sequestration that contributes to reduced global warming. In developing countries, IFPRI noted, it is estimated that degraded land can reach to two billin hectares, while those pilot farms have proven that growing energy crops on degraded land can be successful."


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