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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, February 13, 2007

Brazilian ethanol to replace 10% of world gasoline in 20 years - report

According to a study commissioned by Brazil's Ministério de Ciências e Tecnologia (MCT), the country will become a global exporter of ethanol capable of replacing 10% of world gasoline consumption by 2025.

The study [*Portuguese], carried out over a 2 year period by the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp), had as its objective to analyse the viability of rapidly substituting a large amount of gasoline in the growing world market. In order to achieve this objective, the country would have to invest up to 20 billion reais (€7.3/US$9.5 billion) per year in production capacity and logistical infrastructures (such as dedicated ethanol pipelines) (two such infrastructure projects are already underway as part of a US$6.2 billion investment plan- earlier post).

According to Rogério César Cerqueira Leite, professor emeritus of Unicamp, the simulations show that the large initial investments will begin to see a return from the last 7 years of the 20 year period onwards. With government support, such an investment regime makes commercial sense, especially because it deals with energy - a sector in which many non-tangible but nationally important factors play a role (such as energy security).

Leite stresses that the bulk of the investments in production will have to come from the private sector, and that the government will contribute (mainly to infrastructure projects) via the Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES) (Brazil's development bank).

Transpetro, the logistical branch of Brazil's state-owned oil & gas company Petrobras, was a partner in the study, because it will be the main actor investing in the ethanol pipelines which will stretch from the Center-East of the country to São Paulo.

If the basic investment scenarios presented by the report were to occur, Brazil's ethanol exports will skyrocket from today's 2.8 billion liters to 200 billion liters in 2025. The hectarage for biofuel feedstocks (mainly sugarcane) will jump from today's 5.6 million hectares to 30 million in the same period. "This represents less than 10% of the available arable land base. Our study shows that this hectarage can be used without invading forests or existing agricultural areas", explains Leite. Brazil currently has some 200 million hectares of degraded pastures, where agricultural crops can be planted without knocking down a single Amazon tree:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The projections are based on current production technologies. But the study points out that over this time horizon, Brazil will have acquired biofuel technologies such as enzymatic and acid hydrolysis, with which it will be possible to use cellulose waste streams for the production of ethanol. The main biomass waste stream - bagasse - is currently used efficiently for the production of carbon-neutral electricity and steam. But in the future, it will become a feedstock for cellulosic ethanol production. This will result in an even better energy balance for liquid fuels made from sugarcane. It will also reduce the required land area by up to a third.

"The United States are investing in this technology, because they do not have enough land to expand their ethanol industry." Cerqueira Leite adds that the alternative scenarios are based on the projection that enzymatic hydrolysis for the production of cellulosic ethanol will be commercially viable within 15 years time.

The current study analysed the capacity to expand Brazil's ethanol production potential in the North and Nordeste regions of the country. In a third phase, the ongoing study will analyse the potential for the state of São Paulo.

Crucial for the development of the Brazilian export-strategy will be to make sure that the country can guarantee a steady supply of biofuels to the world market. For this reason it will actively encourage and invite foreign investments in the sector and strengthen the institutional capacities to guarantee a secure investment climate.

More information:
Agencia Estado: Unicamp: governo estuda plano para exportação de álcool - Feb. 9, 2007.
Estadao: Governo faz plano de expansão do etanol para exportação - Feb. 10 2007.
International Herald Tribune (summary): Study: Brazilian ethanol can replace 10 percent of world gasoline in 20 years - Feb. 12, 2007.


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