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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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Saturday, February 24, 2007

EU opens public consultation on carbon capture and storage

As announced in its ambitious Energy and Climate Change Package adopted on 10 January 2007, the European Commission is preparing a legislative proposal which aims at establishing the regulatory framework for the capture of carbon dioxide and its geological storage, often referred to as “carbon capture and storage” (CCS).

To that end, Stavros Dimas (Commissioner for Environment), Andris Piebalgs (Commissioner for Energy) and Janez Potočnik (Commissioner for Science and Research) are analysing and studying this potentially important tool for the environment and energy policies of the European Union.

CCS is a technology concept to reduce the atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide that result from various industrial processes, in particular from the use of fossil fuels (mainly coal and natural gas) in power generation. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) views CCS as “an option in the portfolio of mitigation actions” to combat climate change. CCS is expected to have far-reaching implications for the industry sectors based on fossil fuels, both in the EU and worldwide.

CCS can be also used in so-called "Bio-Energy with Carbon Storage" (BECS) systems, a radical carbon negative energy concept. BECS relies on burning renewable and climate neutral biofuels instead of fossil fuels, after which the CO2 released is sequestered, making the over-all GHG balance negative. BECS is the only system that can take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere while delivering energy at the same time. Scientists who proposed BECS in the context of so-called "abrupt climate change" think such a system can take us back to pre-industrial CO2 levels in a few decades (earlier post and a comparison between 'synthetic trees' and BECS).

Several CCS projects are currently underway (earlier post), but leakage of CO2 out of its storage medium remains a risk. A recently launched test in Australia is aimed at assessing this risk and other uncertainties (earlier post). Meanwhile, scientists are researching novel sequestration techniques and media, such as storing the gas in saline aquifers (earlier post) or transforming it into a liquid form and keeping it sequestered under cold conditions (earlier post).

Given the uncertainties and many unknowns surrounding CCS, the European commissioners now wish to consult European citizens and other stakeholders on the potential benefits and challenges of the technology, and how it relates to other energy and greenhouse gas mitigation options.

It is clear that the Biopact will suggest the EU look thoroughly into BECS. Our proposition consists of coupling the production of the biofuels in the Global South (basically short-rotation trees and herbaceaous biomass crops), to their use in the carbon negative energy system. This way, the developing world can benefit from the enormous bioenergy opportunity, which can bring millions of jobs to the rural poor and alleviate poverty on a massive scale, while globally, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels can be reduced fast and substantially. Vast amounts of biomass for energy can be grown efficiently and sustainably in the South, without threatening the food security of people, and without damaging the environment. The biomass can then be transported over long distances, with only negligeable losses in the energy and GHG balance (earlier post). For the African continent alone, the longterm maximum production potential for sustainably grown biomass for exports is estimated at around 410 exajoules per year, roughly the total amount of energy currently consumed by the world from all sources (nuclear, fossil fuels, hydro and renewables) (earlier post).

The consultation is open until 16 April 2007. Thereafter, a link to key findings will be added to this website. If you are a stakeholder or a concerned EU citizen, then click here to start the questionnaire (other language versions are forthcoming) [entry ends here].
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