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    During a session of Kazakhstan's republican party congress, President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced plans to construct two large ethanol plants with the aim to produce biofuels for exports to Europe. Company 'KazAgro' and the 'akimats' (administrative units) of grain-growing regions will be charged to develop biodiesel, bioethanol and bioproducts. KazInform - March 6, 2007.

    Saab will introduce its BioPower flex-fuel options to its entire 9-3 range, including Sport Sedan, SportCombi and Convertible bodystyles, at the Geneva auto show. GreenCarCongress - March 2, 2007.

    British oil giant BP plans to invest around US$50 million in Indonesia's biofuel industry, using jatropha oil as feedstock. BP will build biofuel plants with an annual capacity of 350,000 tons for which it will need to set up jatropha curcas plantations covering 100,000 hectares of land, to guarantee supply of feedstock, an official said. Antara [*cache] - March 2, 2007.

    The government of Taiwan has decided to increase the acreage dedicated to biofuel crops -- soybean, rape, sunflower, and sweet potato -- from 1,721 hectares in 2006 to 4,550 hectares this year, the Council of Agriculture said. China Post - March 2, 2007.

    Kinder Morgan Energy Partners has announced plans to invest up to €76/US$100 million to expand its terminal facilities to help serve the growing biodiesel market. KMP has entered into long-term agreements with Green Earth Fuels, LLC to build up to 1.3 million barrels of tankage that will handle approximately 8 million barrels of biodiesel production at KMP's terminals on the Houston Ship Channel, the Port of New Orleans and in New York Harbor. PRNewswire - March 1, 2007.

    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, March 06, 2007

Chinese Academy of Sciences outlines alternative energy and conservation strategies

After compre- hensive studies, a panel of the Chinese Academy of Science's (CAS) Academic Divisions recently wrote a set of recommendations on the long- and medium-term development strategy for energy sources that can supplement or substitute petroleum in China. Some of the strategies conform with the country's bioenergy plan (earlier post).

The report gauges the future development trends of energy sources both in China and the world, making forecasts on the availability of petroleum resources, their demand, and production capacities from 2020 to 2050. The forecast consists of two parts, (1) on the supplementation and substitution of petroleum fuel and (2) on the improvement and substitution of the power systems of transport vehicles, respectively.

Regarding the development of petroleum substitutes, including fuels from non-conventional oil and coal, natural gas and biomass, the report makes the following proposals for action over the next five years:
  1. Vigorously promoting the prospecting and assessment of China's oil shale resources.
  2. Deepening the research and development of key technologies that are directly or indirectly associated with liquefaction; providing support to the construction of demonstration plants with an annual production capacity up to one million tons of substitute fuels using the two technological alternatives, with a view to gaining experiences for industrial application of the production technologies.
  3. A scientific verification on gasoline and diesel substitutes in an all-round manner should be completed as soon as possible. Also in need is the encouragement given to the technologies using cellulose and semi-cellulose as raw materials for ethanol production. Research should be conducted into the breeding of fast-growing energy-rich plants in desert and desolate areas that can provide biomass for bio-ethanol and biodiesel manufacturing. Furthermore, efforts should be made to develop mass production bases for those fuels without the occupation of farmlands.
  4. Continuously promoting industrialization of the production of bio-ethanol and biodiesel from biomass.
As the shortage of conventional petroleum becomes increasingly acute and crude oil prices keep soaring, the markets for non-conventional petroleum (referring only to extra-heavy oil, and the petroleum from oil sands and oil-shale) are expected to constantly expand, partly making up for the shortfall. Resources of coal and natural gas are relatively abundant in this country, and their conversion into the fuel driving transport vehicles is now technologically viable and could be competitive when prices of conventional fuels are at the high end of the range.

According to the CAS, during the period of the world's transition to a post-petroleum economy, increased use of coal and natural gas as a substitute of conventional fuel should be possible.

Other optional substitutes include biomass-based ethanol, carbinol (a methanol based alcohol), dimethyl ether, biodiesel, synthetic oil and hydrogen, which are also internationally seen as a direction for development. Equally significant are technological innovations with regard to transport vehicles. There is a need to develop energy-efficient vehicles, vehicles using substitute fuels or powered by electricity, as road transport is a most important part of the transport and communication industry. Rail transit systems are a major approach for public transportation and a main way of energy conservation:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The following proposals are raised on energy conservation in the transport and communication industry:

First of all, positive efforts should be made to promote the adoption of new power systems for the automobiles, which are good at energy saving and diversified for energy sources. Priority should be given to electrified power systems with zero discharge of exhaustive gases. There is the need to vigorously carry out the research and development of highly efficient, low-cost systems of fuel cells and lithium ion batteries. The key issues in the application of electric vehicles and its early industrialization lie in the solution to the problems of electric power supply and hydrogen fuel storage on vehicles. To this end, resources should be pooled to remove the technological bottlenecks such as short service life, high production costs, poor reliability and performance of such systems. Meanwhile, feasibility studies and large-scale demonstration projects should be conducted on such infrastructure facilities as hydrogen fueling stations and electric vehicle charging stations so as to speed up the industrial development of fuel cells and lithium ion batteries.

Secondly, electrified rail transportation should be developed in a big way. Railway electrification and increased speed of passenger trains are the way of ensuring the dominant position of railways in the communication and transport industry. More efforts should be made to develop urban rail transit systems, with a view to effectively curbing the rapidly increasing number of automobiles used in cities and reduce the per vehicle consumption of oil.

The report notes that introduction of energy-efficient technologies is time consuming and has to be accomplished in well-planned phases. For work over the next five years, it suggests that support should be rendered to the research, development and pilot studies by various sectors in this regard. Initial work should be done on selective basis when putting such technologies to industrial application. Prudence should be the approach toward massive application of such technologies in industrial production in the current R&D phase, and only after a full verification will it be appropriate for the government to make a major decision to its large-scale industrialization. The report also proposes a key national research program in the field, which should be launched through coordination of the national authorities and implemented continuously under the centralized leadership and management.

More information:
Chinese Academy of Sciences: CAS scientists make suggestions on energy source development - March 6, 2007.


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