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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, February 21, 2007

Climate change heating up China faster than rest of the world - report

Only recently has China begun to publicly recognize the serious threats it faces from global warming (earlier post). In a new report, the China Meteorological Administration now says climate change is heating up the People's Republic faster than the rest of the world, and extreme weather such as heavy rainfalls, typhoons, drought and desertification is on the rise.

The agency's report, carried on the official Xinhua News Agency, said China's surface temperature had risen 0.22 degrees every 10 years for the past 50 years, which was higher than the increases seen globally and in the Northern Hemisphere as a whole.

It also predicted that temperatures would rise at a faster rate in the future. In comparison to average temperatures recorded from 1961 to 1990, China's average temperatures would increase 1.3 to 2.1 degrees by 2020, 1.5 to 2.8 degrees by 2030, 2.3 to 3.3 degrees by 2050 and 3.9 to 6 degrees by 2100, it forecast.

The report further warned that:
  • Rising heat would cause the glaciers in north-western China to shrink 27 per cent by 2050.
  • Precipitation countrywide would increase by 2 to 3 per cent by 2020, by 5 to 7 per cent by 2050 and by 11 to 17 per cent by 2100, it added.
  • Typhoons would become larger and more powerful, the weather agency said, and the chances that eastern China would experience extreme rainfall would be four to six times higher in the next four to five years in comparison with the 1980s and '90s.
  • Sea levels would also rise by 12 to 50 centimetres by 2050, it predicted.
  • While some areas of China could suffer under heavy rainfall and storms, arid areas would grow and more land would turn to desert and increase the country's sandstorms.
Qin Dahe, director of the China Meteorological Administration, said in a recent press conference that meteorological disasters caused direct economic losses of 200 to 300 billion yuan (€20 to 30 billion/US$25 to 37.5 billion) in China annually, which was equivalent to two to five percent of China's gross domestic product:
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Greenhouse gas emissions, and carbon dioxide discharges in particular, are widely considered to be the prime factor in global warming. Unlike the United States, the Chinese government has backed the UN-brokered Kyoto treaty, and committed itself to improving its energy efficiency by setting the goal of cutting its energy consumption by 20 percent per unit of GDP in the period from 2006 to 2010, Qin noted.

However, China has failed to meet similar ambitious targets by wide margins in the past. Moreover, the country is exempt from the Kyoto Protocol's mandated greenhouse gas emission limits because it qualifies as a 'developing country'.

China did achieve reductions in emissions of some 800 million tons of coal equivalent from 1991 to 2005. The country's forests, grasslands and natural reserves have helped absorb another 3.06 billion tons, Qin added.

The warmer trend noted in the report seemed to be showing itself during the Chinese New Year, which began Sunday. This year's Lunar New Year's festival, which is being celebrated this week, is the warmest since record-keeping began. Temperatures generally at this time of year lie around the freezing point, but the weather in Beijing Tuesday was at a springlike 15 degrees.

Since 1987, China has experienced 19 warm winters, and normal cold weather returned only in 2004 and 2005.

China is not only heavily impacted by global warming but is also helping to cause it. The most populous country in the world is the world's largest coal consumer and was predicted to overtake the United States in 2009 as the globe's largest producer of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, which causes global warming.

Image: Typhoon Saomai, a Super Typhoon, classed as Category Five for a while, then downgraded to a Cat 4, was the fifth large storm to hit China in 2006, and the strongest to hit the country in 50 years. With wind surges of more than 216 km (135 miles) per hour, the deadly storm caused more than a million people to move out of its path. Credit: NOAA.


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