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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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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Saab sets new global sales record in 2006; ethanol vehicle drives success

Sweden is one of the most active biofuels players within the European Union. The country leads the development of new biofuels (such as biogas as an automotive fuel - earlier post), but it also imports a large quantity of competitive ethanol from the Global South, where it is actively investing in biofuel production (earlier post). Swedish car manufacturers play a significant role in getting the country's biofuels program off the ground and are deriving clear benefits from it.

Premium Swedish car manufacturer Saab is amongst them; the company announced it achieved its strongest-ever global sales performance last year, growing worldwide sales by 5.4 per cent compared to 2005 and also setting a best-ever sales volume in Europe. Global sales increased to 133,167 cars, exceeding the previous record set in 2000. For the second year running, European sales boomed, increasing by 11.1 per cent in 2006 compared to the previous year. This established a new sales record of 88,859 units for the region, which was well ahead of the previous benchmark set in 2005.

In terms of individual markets, Saab’s home market of Sweden performed exceptionally well during 2006, with full-year volumes up by 20.5 per cent. Much of this growth can be attributed to the enormous success of the Saab 9-5 BioPower flex-fuel car, which has taken the Swedish market by storm since its launch in mid-2005. Saab sold almost 11,000 9-5 BioPowers during 2006 in Sweden, meaning that almost one in three environmentally-friendly car sales in that market was a Saab BioPower. The green succes car has received a lot of attention after Richard Branson, a major biofuels investor, endorsed it by buying and touring one:
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In the UK, which is Saab’s single largest market outside of the US, the Swedish brand took its highest-ever share of the new car market, at 1.15 per cent. Booming retail demand, which swelled by an impressive 12 per cent in 2006 compared to 2005, contributed to healthy full-year volumes of 26,962 units. British customers confirmed their penchant for soft-top motoring as well during the year, buying more Saab 9-3 Convertibles in 2006 than in any other year since UK sales began in 1960.

Looking at model ranges globally, Saab 9-3 sales grew by seven per cent around the world last year, helped by the successful launch of the 9-3 SportWagon in the second half of 2005. Sales of the revised Saab 9-5 range, including the environmentally-friendly BioPower range, meanwhile, increased by six per cent.

Most encouragingly of all, however, Saab ended the year with an overflowing order bank for its key European markets, promising a great start to the year in which Saab celebrates 60 years of making cars.

Commenting on the news, Jonathan Nash, Managing Director of Saab Great Britain, remarked: “2006 has been a fantastic year for Saab in more ways than one. The unveiling of the Aero X concept car back in March reinforced Saab’s position at the forefront of avant-garde and cutting-edge car design. Shortly after then, Saab hit the headlines with the first deliveries of the 9-5 BioPower, which is the world’s first turbocharged car able to run on bioethanol, proving that responsible motoring can be exciting. The fact that Saab has enjoyed double-digit retail growth in a year when the rest of the UK market struggled is the icing on the cake for us.”

Nash continued: “I am confident that 2007 will be an equally positive year for Saab. The continued focus on our BioPower range of environmentally-friendly cars is sure to keep Saab firmly at the top of the green agenda, whilst the celebrations surrounding 60 years of Saab building cars will keep the British public’s interest in this great brand at their highest-ever levels.”


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