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    Indian bioprocess engineering firm Praj wins €11/US$14.5 million contract for the construction of the wheat and beet based bio-ethanol plant for Biowanze SA in Belgium, a subsidiary of CropEnergies AG (a Sudzucker Group Company). The plant has an ethanol production capacity of 300,000 tons per year. IndiaPRWire - March 15, 2007.

    Shimadzu Scientific Instruments announced the availability of its new white paper, “Overview of Biofuels and the Analytical Processes Used in their Manufacture.” The paper is available for free download at the company’s website. The paper offers an overview of the rapidly expanding global biofuel market with specific focus on ethanol and biodiesel used in auto transportation. It provides context for these products within the fuel market and explains raw materials and manufacturing. Most important, the paper describes the analytical processes and equipment used for QA testing of raw materials, in-process materials, and end products. BusinessWire - March 15, 2007.

    Côte d'Ivoire's agriculture minister Amadou Gon has visited the biofuels section of the Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris, one of the largest fairs of its kind. According to his communication office, the minister is looking into drafting a plan for the introduction of biofuels in the West African country. AllAfrica [*French] - March 13, 2007.

    Biofuels and bioenergy producers in Ireland, a country which just recently passed bioenergy legislation, are allocated excise relief for imported biomass. Unison Ireland (subscription req'd). - March 13, 2007.

    EDF Energies Nouvelles, a subsidiary of energy giant Electricité de France, has announced a move into biofuels, by sealing a preliminary agreement with Alcofinance SA of Belgium. Upon completion of a reserved issue of shares for €23 million, EDF Energies Nouvelles will own 25% of a newly formed company housing Belgium-based Alcofinance's ethanol production and distribution activities. Alcofinance's projects are located in the Ghent Bioenergy Valley. BusinessWire - March 13, 2007.

    Fuel Tech, Inc., today announced a demonstration order for its 'Targeted In-Furnace Injection' program, part of a set of technologies aimed at controlling slagging, fouling, corrosion, opacity and acid plume problems in utility scale boilers. The order was placed by an electric generating facility located in Italy, and will be conducted on two biomass units burning a combination of wood chips and olive husks. BusinessWire - March 9, 2007.

    At a biofuels conference ahead of the EU's Summit on energy and climate change, Total's chief of agricultural affairs says building environmentally friendly 'flexible-fuel' cars only cost an additional €200 (US$263) a vehicle and that, overall, ethanol is cheaper than gasoline. MarketWatch - March 8, 2007.

    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.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

EU forges energy partnership with Africa

The development ministers of the 27 EU member states concluded their informal meeting at the Petersberg near Bonn earlier this week. It focused on energy cooperation between Europe and the 78 ACP (Africa, Caribbean, Pacific) countries. Afterwards, the EU development ministers met about 30 colleagues from ACP countries for an informal dialogue on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA's) – the first time a meeting has been held between these two groups.

Ministers and representatives of the European Commission also adopted the “Petersberg Communiqué on European Development Policy”. Based on the EU’s objective to eradicate poverty in the context of sustainable development and in line with the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the communiqué reiterates the objectives, values and principles of European development cooperation.

In a joint press conference with EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel and Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, the German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul announced the forging of an energy partnership between Europe and Africa.

She emphasized that without sustainable access to energy, there can be no development: "Rising costs for fossil energy are jeopardizing development achievements in Africa. We in the European Union therefore want to support Africa in expanding the use of renewable energy and improving energy efficiency."

The Minister also drew attention to the impact of climate change in Africa: "It is obvious that Africa is not to blame for anthropogenic climate change, but Africa is hit particularly hard by the consequences of climate change." The Minister noted that, in the proposal to be presented by the European Commission for a Europe-Africa energy partnership later this year, adaptation to climate change would therefore play a central role:
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With regard to the meeting of EU ministers with some 30 ministers from the ACP countries, Wieczorek-Zeul said: "There is vast agreement within the EU that the main purpose of Economic Partnership Agreements with the ACP countries is to achieve progress on development. Europe does not have any aggressive trade interests in the developing countries."

Peter Mandelson, European Commissioner for Trade and EU chief negotiator for the Economic Partnership Agreements, confirmed that "they [EPAs] are a genuine development instrument. At their heart is a determination by us to put trade at the service of development."

EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel drew attention to the fact that the ACP countries' share in global trade had been stagnating for the past 30 years, pointing out that the European Union was already making available one billion euros per year to support the ACP countries in developing their trade (aid for trade). After the conclusion of the Economic Partnership Agreements, he said, this assistance would be doubled to 2 billion euros.

At the end of the meeting of EU development ministers, Wieczorek-Zeul presented the Petersberg Communiqúe on Development Policy. The Minister noted that the declaration documented the broad consensus existing among EU member states and was impressive evidence of the European process of convergence on development policy.

More information:
German Presidency press release on the energy partnership - March 13, 2007.
Petersberg Communiqué on European Development Policy [*pdf] - March 13, 2007
Joint statement of the EU Development Ministers: “The European Consensus on Development” [*pdf] - December 20, 2005
EU Commission website: Economic Partnership Agreements [*pdf]
EU Commission website: trade relations with ACP countries


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