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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 03, 2007

Green giant Russia to produce 1 billion tons of biomass for exports

The European Union, China and to a lesser extent the US, will become increasingly dependent on Russia for their oil and gas supplies. Recent supply disruptions, caused by the gas dispute between Russia and Belarus, made the headlines because they showed how fragile Europe really is because of this dependency.

The EU's new energy policy for the 21st century (earlier post) was drawn up in part with the goal of reducing reliance on foreign energy. It is therefor betting big on biofuels, not only because the green fuels are crucial for the development of a low-carbon economy, but also because they can be produced locally and thus strengthen the security of supply.

But in the meantime, and ironically, Russia itself is beginning to understand that it is a true green giant. The country is showing signals that it will not hesitate to tap its huge bioenergy potential and help make biofuels a global commodity. Its first aim: exporting biomass... to Europe.

A billion tons of biomass
Alexej Gordejev, Minister for Agriculture of the world's largest country, announced [*German] at the EU's Green Week in Berlin (earlier post), that East-West agrarian cooperation and reform offers a tremendous opportunity for both partners in the field of green, carbon-neutral energy.

Gordejev says his country's current bioenergy production potential for exports stands at a whopping 1 billion tons of biomass per year. According to the official journal of Russia's agriculture ministry, 20 million hectares of land are immediately available for biomass production.

1 billion tons of biomass roughly equals 15 Exajoules of energy, or 2.46 billion barrels of oil equivalent, or the equivalent of 6.7 million barrels of oil per day. Russia currently produces some 9.15 million bpd of fossil oil.

According to the International Energy Agency's Bioenergy Task 40, which studies international biomass trade, the former Soviet Union and the Baltic states combined have a long-term (2050) bioenergy production potential of between 45 (min.) and 199 (max.) Exajoules per year. This equates to roughly 20.2 (min.) and 89.3 (max.) million barrels of oil equivalent per day. The maximum represents approximately the total amount of petroleum the world currently consumes as a whole.

The land Gordejev refers to, represents an area five times the size of Switzerland. According to the minister, the land in question is suitable for immediate release, because its is not needed for the production of food and fiber nor to meet local wood fuel demand. In the future, he added, Russia will study how to use its immense (boreal) forest resources for bioenergy production.

Russian-German bioenergy cooperation
Gordejev's announcement came within the context of the Roundtable on Bioenergy [*German] of the policy group on Agricultural Economics and Russo-German scientific cooperation, which was held during the same Green Week. Dr. Gerd Müller, Parliamentary State Secretary for 'Neighborly relations' (Ernährung), Economy and Consumer Protection said after the event that "cooperation on bioenergy offers great, unexplored opportunities for German and Russian entrepreneurs. We will make sure this cooperation will be beneficial to both sides." The roundatble was presided by Russia's Deputy Minister of Industry, Science and Technologies, Sergey Mitin:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The meeting was organised within the framework of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs' cooperation project "Deutsch-Russischer Agrarpolitikdialog" ("German-Russian Agricultural Policy Dialogue"), which was attended by some 40 German and Russian scientists, economists and politicians.

Müller said the Russians showed great interest in German bioenergy know-how. "Our German enterprises are world leaders in the bioenergy sector and very eager to cooperate with Russia", he told reporters after the meeting. "Many concrete cooperation projects have been agreed on during this meeting and they show the large potential for future economic exchanges within the sector."

State Secretary Müller clarified that the intensification of economic relations forms a vital part of the cooperation policies of the Ministry of Economics, which are currently focused on further integration with Eastern Europe, but which will gradually draw Russia in.

In 2007, a follow-up conference on bioenergy is planned in Russia, which will tighten relations between Russia's federate states and German enterprises.

Besides the commercial and business links which were crafted during the meeting, the Deutsch-Russischen Agrarpolitikdialogs also resulted in an agreement between the Russian and German Ministeries of Economic Affairs to cooperate formally on bioenergy policies and legislation.

More information:
EuropaTicker: Deutsch-Russischer "Runder Tisch Bioenergie" - Jan. 27, 2007.

Agrigate: Bioenergie-Riese Russland - Jan. 24, 2007.

IEA Bioenergy Task 40: A quickscan of global bio-energy potentials to 2050.


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