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    Covanta Holding Corp., a developer and operator of large-scale renewable energy projects, has agreed to purchase two biomass energy facilities and a biomass energy fuel management business from The AES Corp. According to the companies, the facilities are located in California's Central Valley and will add 75 MW to Covanta's portfolio of renewable energy plants. Alternative Energy Retailer - May 31, 2007.

    Two members of Iowa’s congressional delegation are proposing a study designed to increase the availability of ethanol across the country. Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Ia., held a news conference Tuesday to announce that he has introduced a bill in the U.S. House, asking for a US$2 million study of the feasibility of transporting ethanol by pipeline. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., has introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Des Moines Register - May 30, 2007.

    A new market study by Frost & Sullivan Green Energy shows that the renewables industry in the EU is expanding at an extraordinary rate. Today biofuels and other renewables represent about 2.1 per cent of the EU's gross domestic product and account for 3.5 million jobs. The study forecasts that revenues from renewables in the world's largest economy are set to double, triple or increase even more over the next few years. Engineer Live - May 29, 2007.

    A project to evaluate barley’s potential in Canada’s rapidly evolving biofuels industry has received funding of $262,000 from the Biofuels Opportunities for Producers Initiative (BOPI). Western Barley Growers Association [*.pdf] - May 27, 2007.

    PNOC-Alternative Fuels Corporation (PNOC-AFC), the biofuel unit of Philippine National Oil Company, is planning to undertake an initial public offering next year or in 2009 so it can have its own cash and no longer rely on its parent for funding of biofuels projects. Manila Bulletin - May 27, 2007.

    TMO Renewables Limited, a producer of ethanol from biomass, has licensed the ERGO bioinformatics software developed and maintained by Integrated Genomics. TMO will utilize the genome analysis tools for gene annotation, metabolic reconstruction and enzyme data-mining as well as comparative genomics. The platform will enable the company to further understand and exploit its thermophilic strains used for the conversion of biomass into fuel. CheckBiotech - May 25, 2007.

    Melbourne-based Plantic Technologies Ltd., a company that makes biodegradable plastics from plants, said 20 million pounds (€29/US$39 million) it raised by selling shares on London's AIM will help pay for its first production line in Europe. Plantic Technologies [*.pdf] - May 25, 2007.

    Shell Hydrogen LLC and Virent Energy Systems have announced a five-year joint development agreement to develop further and commercialize Virent's BioForming technology platform for the production of hydrogen from biomass. Virent Energy Systems [*.pdf] - May 24, 2007.

    Spanish energy and engineering group Abengoa will spend more than €1 billion (US$1.35 billion) over the next three years to boost its bioethanol production, Chairman Javier Salgado said on Tuesday. The firm is studying building four new plants in Europe and another four in the United States. Reuters - May 23, 2007.

    According to The Nikkei, Toyota is about to introduce flex-fuel cars in Brazil, at a time when 8 out of 10 new cars sold in the country are already flex fuel. Brazilians prefer ethanol because it is about half the price of gasoline. Forbes - May 22, 2007.

    Virgin Trains is conducting biodiesel tests with one of its diesel engines and will be running a Voyager train on a 20 percent biodiesel blend in the summer. Virgin Trains Media Room - May 22, 2007.

    Australian mining and earthmoving contractor Piacentini & Son will use biodiesel from South Perth's Australian Renewable Fuels across its entire fleet, with plans to purchase up to 8 million litres from the company in the next 12 months. Tests with B20 began in October 2006 and Piacentinis reports very positive results for economy, power and maintenance. Western Australia Business News - May 22, 2007.

    Malaysia's Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui announces he will head a delegation to the EU in June, "to counter European anti-palm oil activists on their own home ground". The South East Asian palm oil industry is seen by many European civil society organisations and policy makers as unsustainable and responsible for heavy deforestation. Malaysia Star - May 20, 2007.

    Paraguay and Brazil kick off a top-level seminar on biofuels, cooperation on which they see as 'strategic' from an energy security perspective. 'Biocombustiveis Paraguai-Brasil: Integração, Produção e Oportunidade de Negócios' is a top-level meeting bringing together the leaders of both countries as well as energy and agricultural experts. The aim is to internationalise the biofuels industry and to use it as a tool to strengthen regional integration and South-South cooperation. PanoramaBrasil [*Portuguese] - May 19, 2007.

    Portugal's Galp Energia SGPS and Petrobras SA have signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a biofuels joint venture. The joint venture will undertake technical and financial feasibility studies to set up a plant in Brazil to export biofuels to Portugal. Forbes - May 19, 2007.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

UN report looks at biofuel potential in Guyana - total energy independence possible

The UN's Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in collaboration with Italy's agency for development aid (Cooperazione Italiana) has made a basic case study of the bioenergy and biofuels potential in Guyana. The results [*.pdf] are not surprising: the small South American nation can produce biofuels competitively, on a large scale, totally end its (very heavy) dependence on imported oil, and create a considerable number of jobs by investing in sustainable biofuel production. Guyana can replace all its fossil fuels in all industrial sectors, and have capacity to spare, by utilising biomass residues alone (no new land required).

Liquid biofuels: sustainable and competitive
Guyana's 750,000 inhabitants depend on imported fuel to meet the needs of the transport sector. In 2005 alone, fuel import bills accounted for not less than 29% or US$220 million of the value of total imports of the country (graph, click to enlarge). Gasoline imports alone were equivalent to 8.6% of Guyana's GDP. In short, the country's economy is highly dependent on imported oil products and fossil fuel prices.

According to the report's most conservative scenario, Guyana's thriving agricultural industry can produce 30.8 million liters of ethanol per year from secondary molasses. This would be nearly 3 times the anticipated demand of 11.5 million liters, if a mixture of 10% ethanol were to be used in the country's vehicles. If other starchy and sugar raw materials (like sugarcane juice or primary molasses) are considered, the availeble potential would increase proportionally.

The cost per liter of ethanol would be quite competitive with imported energy. In 2005, the export price of secondary molasses was US$ 83 per ton. From each ton of molasses some 260 liters of ethanol can be obtained. This implies an estimated opportunity cost of US$0.392/liter. Ethanol from molasses has been price competitive with gasoline in the past few years, even without consideration of positive externalities associated with it (jobs, security, energy independence, price stability).

The report's author, Luiz Augusta Horta, found that one prototypical ethanol plant with a capacity of 65,000 liters/day, can replace 10% of Guyana's gasoline demand, would require an investment of around US$6.5 million, and would result in annual savings of US$ 5.4 million on the energy import bill:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Added advantages are the fact that a local biofuels industry would diversify existing agricultural sectors, opening new opportunities for farmers, introduce a new technology and research sector, with new employment opportunities for both low skilled and highly professional workers, and reduce the risks currently faced by the country's sugarcane industry (which is heavily dependent on the EU's sugar regime - Guyana enjoys preferential treatment but will be affected by the Union's sugar reform).

Horta says moreover, the use of ethanol as a source of energy would have significant environmental advantages, and cut carbon dioxide emissions considerably. "All together, these conditions make a decidedly sufficient and robust case to promote the use of ethanol for energy security in Guyana."

Solid biofuels for cogeneration

The report further analyses the potential for the use of solid biomass in cogeneration plants. Both field and processing residues from rice are available in abundance. Rice cultivation in Guyana, which occupies approximately 130,000 hectares of land, produced an estimated crop of 501,500 tons in 2004. In the same year, exports stood at 357,900 tons, accounting for over 70% of total production and inflows of approximately US$54.5 million.

Rice processing plants produce an average of 0.22 kilograms of cellulosic biomass waste per kilogram of husked rice. A total of around 110,300 tons of such residues (mainly husks) would be availabe each year. Assuming the energy content of these wastes is 13.8MJ/kg, the reserves may be estimated at 36,400 tons of oil equivalent, or 11% of Guyana's diesel use in power plants.

As regards the bioenergy potential of Guyana's sawmills, whose total timber production in 2005 was approximately 1,347,000 cubic meters, the average density being around 600kg/cubic meter and waste production (sawdust, wood shavings, etc) was estimated, conservatively at 200kg/cubic meter. Estimating the heating value of this resource to be around 13.8MJ/kg, the result was an impressive figure of 1.55 million tons of oil equivalent, almost 3 times as much as the Guyana's diesel demand used in the production of electricity.

These lignocellulosic wastes will be used for electricity production in cogeneration plants. One of the main groups active in Guyana's forestry sector is already tapping the opportunity by setting up a 3MW plant using available waste from its mills.

UN recommends urgent implementation of ethanol strategy
The report on the biofuel potential in Guyana was welcomed by the country's decision makers and by representatives of the agricultural sector. Prime Minister Sam Hinds told reporters that ECLAC has recommended that Guyana invest in a prototypical ethanol plant (65,000 liters/day) in the short term and that the country should consider mandating a 10% ethanol blend at once. Such a prototypical plant ethanol plant "is certainly an interesting opportunity, with a payback period of less than 18 months, an encouraging indicator for energy investment."

Meanwhile, Hinds said that some four foreign companies are interested in investing in the industry including BioCapital from Brazil and the US firm Global Energy Ventures. The increasing number of vehicles in the country is an indication of its growing motorisation and the increasing demand for fuel with obvious implications for the economy in terms of a larger fuel bill.

Asked whether the recommendations were being considered, Hinds said the government was looking at all the proposals related to ethanol production at this stage and though policy decisions have been taken decisions on the implementation are being considered.

Hinds said the current thinking is that planting of crops for biofuels should be on lands currently available for sugar cane or soya bean or abandoned cattle-grazing grounds; natural forests should not be felled to accommodate cultivation of crops for biofuels; and arable lands should not be made available for biofuels to the detriment of food security.

In Guyana, he said, consideration is being given for cane cultivation in the intermediate savannahs, which would be environmentally friendly and economically feasible.

With surplus sugar and the fact that it has been cultivated in the country for centuries with one of the highest production/demand ratio and with the use of bagasse, the report said that the industrial processes could be self-sufficient and even generate a surplus.

At present, some 50,000 hectares of lands are under sugarcane cultivation, providing some 3.5 million tonnes, processed in 9 mills (map, click to enlarge). Based on this, the report said, "It must be understood that the production of ethanol fuel should not be restricted to an initial, tentative approach, since the potential already exists in the country."

The sugarcane industry of Guyana is one of the most important economic activities of the country and a main source of foreign exchange exporting 60% of its sugar to Europe. It is, however, subject to significant market risks, associated with changes in the Sugar Protocol and the reduction of preferential prices on the European market, which it enjoyed in the past. To deal with the price reduction, the Guyana Sugar Corporation proposes to expand sugar production by 50%, increase the production of refined sugar, introduce the production of ethanol fuel and increase electricity generation from bagasse.

Apart from the economic benefits, those who welcomed the report noted that ethanol production in the sugarcane industry would cater for job creation, mechanisation and electric power cogeneration.

The promotion of ethanol as a source of fuel in Guyana requires the collaboration of all institutions and stakeholders arriving at an operational mechanism for the introduction of ethanol within the energy sector. This requires clear timelines and commitments. It should also include a component for building public awareness as well as involvement of the local science and technology community.

In terms of greenhouse gases it has been determined that for conventional technologies, every litre of anhydrous ethanol in the gasoline blend results in an average reduction in emissions of 0.42 kg of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) equivalent.

More information:

UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean: Louiz Augusta Horta: Biofuels Potential in Guyana [*.pdf or abstract] - February 2007.
Stabroek News: Molasses to ethanol could yield huge energy savings - April 22, 2007


Terror-Free Oil said...

Terror-Free Oil Initiative: First Step to Energy Independence

8:36 AM  

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