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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, February 19, 2007

Biogas as an automotive fuel to feature prominently at the Geneva Motor Show

Last year's biogas boom in Europe is set to continue, with analysts expecting 2007 to become the year the green gas makes its definite breakthrough and reaches a wider public (earlier post). The first sign of this evolution is already here: biogas and natural gas powered vehicles are the main attraction of the 77th Geneva Motor Show, which is to take place in March.

Biogas or biomethane can be produced via the anaerobic fermentation of a wide range of organic feedstocks: municipal, industrial or agricultural waste, but also from dedicated energy crops. In Europe, specially bred biogas maize varieties, sorghum and sudan grass, or more exotic types of grass are already being used on a large scale or in experimental projects.

Analyses show that the gas has a very strong energy balance (earlier post), making it more efficient than any other biofuel, including cellulosic ethanol. One hectare of a field of biogas maize gets an average CNG-capable car to travel 100,000 kilometers (approximately 25,000 miles per acre) (earlier post). Biogas is also the cleanest of the biofuels, in that its production and distribution releases low amounts greenhouse gases.

The production potential in Europe is large: studies differ on how much natural gas it can replace, but the most comprenehsive analysis so far estimates that biogas can replace all of Europe's natural gas imports from Russia by 2020 (earlier post).

Biogas is becoming increasingly popular as an automotive fuel. After purification to natural gas grade standards, the methane it contains is fed into the natural gas grid (earlier post), and arrives at natural gas filling stations, where CNG capable vehicles get their fuel. The sales of these vehicles are seeing a continuous increase in Europe as more and more automakers offer NG models. The trend is strengthened as countries and companies increase efforts to build biogas filling stations (earlier post).

Biogas and natural gas in Geneva
To increase its appeal further, the green gas will feature prominently [*German] at the Geneva Motor Show. Gasmobil AG, the Swiss technology center which promotes the use of natural gas and biogas as an automotive fuel, is the main sponsor of the event.

The organisation's experts will inform visitors of the many benefits of using biogas as an auto fuel and will have a hall devoted to showing the latest car models capable of using the renewable fuel. Most of the models are 'bi-fuel', meaning they can handle both biogas/natural gas and petrol. One of them can even handle three different types of fuel. These cars include:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The Fiat Panda Panda 1.2 Natural Power
The Fiat Multipla Multi-Eco (tri-fuel: petrol, liquid biofuel and biogas/natural gas) (earlier post).
The Ford Focus Turnier 1.6i VCT GREENPOWER
The Citroën C3 1.4 GNV
The Mercedes Benz E200 Kompressor NGT (see image, click to enlarge)
The Opel Zafira 1.6 CNG
The VW Touran 2.0 EcoFuel

These cars (more information) cover all segments, from small urban vehicles, to large family vans and luxury cars.

In Switzerland, where biogas and natural gas are increasingly used, some 22 models are now available, and 7 models of delivery vans and small buses.

Currently there are 85 biogas and natural gas filling stations in Switzerland. By the end of the year, their number will have increased to 100.

More information:
Gasmobil Ag: Erdgas-Autos immer mehr im Trend - Feb. 16, 2007.
Erdgasfahren.ch: Erdgasfahrzeuge bei gasmobil am 77. Internationalen Auto-Salon Genf 8.-18. März 2007


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