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    A project to build a 130 million euro ($172 million) plant to produce 200,000 cubic metres of bioethanol annually was announced by three German groups on Tuesday. The plant will consume about 600,000 tonnes of wheat annually and when operational in the first half of 2009 should provide about a third of Germany's estimated bioethanol requirements. Reuters - Feb. 27, 2007.

    Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs has announced that government vehicles in Taipei City will begin using E3 fuel, composed of 97% gasoline and 3% ethanol, on a trial basis in 2007. Automotive World - Feb. 27, 2007.

    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, February 27, 2007

Brazil increases biodiesel target to 5% by 2010 on rising production potential

State news agency Agência Brasil announces [*Portuguese] that the country's biodiesel production capacity will surpass the 1.3 billion liter per year mark by the middle of this year. This is around 60% above the total needed to reach a target put forward earlier by the government. This target - falling under the country's new 'Pro-biodiesel program' (earlier post) - aims to replace 2% of all fossil diesel with biodiesel, by 2013.

According to Arnoldo de Campos, the coordinator of the National Program for Biodiesel Production and Use, the increased capacity means the deadline can be brought forward by three years, to 2010, and the target increased to 5%.

There are currently 11 biodiesel factories in Brazil producing 640 million liters of biodiesel per year, but when a further 13 factories come online in the first half of this year, total production is expected to reach 1.3 billion liters a year.

“That is almost double what is needed to fulfil the 2 percent of biodiesel to be added to diesel, scheduled for January 2008. That is, a year early, and we have more than enough capacity to respect the deadlines and as production is increasing rapidly we can bring forward the 5 percent target, which was set for 2013, to 2010,” said de Campos.

Oil independence
As well as producing a less polluting fuel, the biodiesel program should also make it possible for Brazil to stop importing diesel alltogether. Brazil’s current diesel consumption stands at around 40 billion liters and 5 percent of that amount, or 2 billion liters, is imported.

"We are now close to importing half of what we used to import as it can be replaced with biodiesel and, soon, when we reach the level of 5 percent of biodiesel in diesel, we will stop importing diesel," says de Campos:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

With ethanol already supplying 70% of Brazil's gasoline needs, the country's added biodiesel program will allow total independence of foreign oil imports.

Diversity of biodiesel feedstocks
By the end of the year, 24 factories will thus be operational, the biodiesel feedstocks for which will be made up by soja (60%) and by castor beans (20%). Castor beans are harvested from the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis), belonging to the family of Euphorbiaceae, to which Jatropha curcas also belongs. The remainder is composed of a diverse range of primary feedstocks such as palm oil, canola, sunflower and waste vegetable oils.

"Castor and sunflower will be supplying the market on a massive scale before the end of the year, when the largest-ever sunflower harvest will occur - based on a large planting effort that began earlier this year - and the second-largest castor harvest."

According to Adriano Pires, economist at the Centro Brasileiro de Infra-estrutura (CBIE), a bioenergy consulting firm, soja is currently the most favorable biodiesel feedstock. He thinks other sources will remain marginal for the foreseeable future, though the potential to use them is large.

"Contrary to the ethanol program, which relies solely on sugarcane, the biodiesel program makes use of a wide variety of feedstocks, which allows for flexibility in the supply chain", adds Pires.

Picture: Castor oil plant.


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