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    According to Salvador Rivas, the director for Non-Conventional Energy at the Dominican Republic's Industry and Commerce Ministry, a group of companies from Brazil wants to invest more than 100 million dollars to produce ethanol in the country, both for local consumption and export to the United States. Dominican Today - May 16, 2007.

    EWE AG, a German multi-service energy company, has started construction on a plant aimed at purifying biogas so that it can be fed into the natural gas grid. Before the end of the year, EWE AG will be selling the biogas to end users via its subsidiary EWE Naturwatt. Solarthemen [*German] - May 16, 2007.

    Scania will introduce an ethanol-fueled hybrid bus concept at the UITP public transport congress in Helsinki 21-24 May 2007. The full-size low-floor city bus is designed to cut fossil CO2 emissions by up to 90% when running on the ethanol blend and reduce fuel consumption by at least 25%. GreenCarCongress - May 16, 2007.

    A report by the NGO Christian Aid predicts there may be 1 billion climate refugees and migrants by 2050. It shows the effects of conflicts on populations in poor countries and draws parallels with the situation as it could develop because of climate change. Christian Aid - May 14, 2007.

    Dutch multinational oil group Rompetrol, also known as TRG, has entered the biofuel market in France in conjunction with its French subsidiary Dyneff. It hopes to equip approximately 30 filling stations to provide superethanol E85 distribution to French consumers by the end of 2007. Energy Business Review - May 13, 2007.

    A group of British organisations launches the National Forum on Bio-Methane as a Road Transport Fuel. Bio-methane or biogas is widely regarded as the cleanest of all transport fuels, even cleaner than hydrogen or electric vehicles. Several EU projects across the Union have shown its viability. The UK forum was lauched at the Naturally Gas conference on 1st May 2007 in Loughborough, which was hosted by Cenex in partnership with the NSCA and the Natural Gas Vehicle Association. NSCA - May 11, 2007.

    We reported earlier on Dynamotive and Tecna SA's initiative to build 6 bio-oil plants in the Argentinian province of Corrientes (here). Dynamotive has now officially confirmed this news. Dynamotive - May 11, 2007.

    Nigeria launches a national biofuels feasibility study that will look at the potential to link the agricultural sector to the automotive fuels sector. Tim Gbugu, project leader, said "if we are able to link agriculture, we will have large employment opportunity for the sustenance of this country, we have vast land that can be utilised". This Day Onlin (Lagos) - May 9, 2007.

    Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva meets with the CEO of Portuguese energy company Galp Energia, which will sign a biofuel cooperation agreement with Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras. GP1 (*Portuguese) - May 9, 2007.

    The BBC has an interesting story on how biodiesel made from coconut oil is taking the pacific island of Bougainville by storm. Small refineries turn the oil into an affordable fuel that replaces costly imported petroleum products. BBC - May 8, 2007.

    Indian car manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra is set to launch its first B100-powered vehicles for commercial use by this year-end. The company is confident of fitting the new engines in all its existing models. Sify - May 8, 2007.

    The Biofuels Act of the Philippines has come into effect today. The law requires all oil firms in the country to blend 2% biodiesel (most often coconut-methyl ester) in their diesel products. AHN - May 7, 2007.

    Successful tests based on EU-criteria result in approval of 5 new maize hybrids that were developed as dedicated biogas crops [*German]. Veredlungsproduktion - May 6, 2007.

    With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Innovation for Regional Economic Development (WIRED), Michigan State University intends to open a training facility dedicated to students and workers who want to start a career in the State's growing bioeconomy. Michigan State University - May 4, 2007.

    Researchers from the Texas A&M University have presented a "giant" sorghum variety for the production of ethanol. The crop is drought-tolerant and yields high amounts of ethanol. Texas A & M - May 3, 2007.

    C-Tran, the public transportation system serving Southwest Washington and parts of Portland, has converted its 97-bus fleet and other diesel vehicles to run on a blend of 20% biodiesel beginning 1 May from its current fleet-wide use of B5. Automotive World - May 3, 2007.

    The Institut Français du Pétrole (IFP) and France's largest research organisation, the CNRS, have signed a framework-agreement to cooperate on the development of new energy technologies, including research into biomass based fuels and products, as well as carbon capture and storage technologies. CNRS - April 30, 2007.

    One of India's largest state-owned bus companies, the Andra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation is to use biodiesel in one depot of each of the 23 districts of the state. The company operates some 22,000 buses that use 330 million liters of diesel per year. Times of India - April 30, 2007.

    Indian sugar producers face surpluses after a bumper harvest and low prices. Diverting excess sugar into the ethanol industry now becomes more attractive. India is the world's second largest sugar producer. NDTVProfit - April 30, 2007.

    Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet on Thursday signed a biofuel cooperation agreement designed to share Brazil's experience in ethanol production and help Chile develop biofuels and fuel which Lula seeks to promote in other countries. More info to follow. People's Daily Online - April 27, 2007.

    Italy's Benetton plans to build a €61 million wood processing and biomass pellet production factory Nagyatád (southwest Hungary). The plant will be powered by biogas. Budapest Sun - April 27, 2007.

    Cargill is to build an ethanol plant in the Magdeburger Börde, located on the river Elbe, Germany. The facility, which will be integrated into existing starch processing plant, will have an annual capacity of 100,000 cubic meters and use grain as its feedstock. FIF - April 26, 2007.

    Wärtsilä Corporation was awarded a contract by the Belgian independent power producer Renogen S.A. to supply a second biomass-fuelled combined heat and power plant in the municipality of Amel in the Ardennes, Belgium. The new plant will have a net electrical power output of 3.29 MWe, and a thermal output of up to 10 MWth for district heating. The electrical output in condensing operation is 5.3 MWe. Kauppalehti - April 25, 2007.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Brazil's Lula to take biofuels to the G8 as a geopolitical weapon

Agência Brasil reports [*Portuguese] that the G8 Summit which unites the world's seven most industrialised and 'developed' countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States) along with Russia has reserved a place for the Brazilian government to present its plans for the development of a global ethanol and biodiesel industry aimed at fighting climate change. The summit takes place in June of this year and is hosted by Germany, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, and which has put global warming and energy security at the top of the agenda.

Combative, president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva told reporters at the Palácio do Planalto that biofuels have become a geopolitical weapon for the Global South:
"At this forum, the G8 will discuss climate change. We are going urge delegates to help develop ethanol and biodiesel on a planetary scale. We will plant sunflower, jatropha, and a range of other crops across the globe, that will sequester carbon dioxide [in the form of low carbon fuels]. We will do so to capture the money that was promised to poor countries but that was never delivered."
Brazil's main contribution to climate change comes from deforestation, but in the industrialised world greenhouse gas emissions come from the massive use of fossil fuels - coal, natural gas and oil - in transport and industry. Bioenergy and biofuels are carbon neutral and non-polluting. Lula said that for this reason global energy politics cannot remain static; switching fuels is part of the future:
"We do not want people abandon the use of oil. But what we want to say is the following: do we want to clean up the planet? Do want to diminish warming of the planet? Do we want to improve air quality? Then use renewable fuels - Brazil will be your partner."
The president said he will act as a "propaganda boy" for biofuels amongst the big boys from the countries who pollute many times more than Brazil, and who have been polluting for more than 200 years:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

"I am going to the G8, and from the first second they start to talk about climate change, I will be sitting there with my portfolio of biofuels, and I will say: here they are, you want to tackle global warming? Here are castor seeds, jatropha nuts, soybeans, cotton seed, oil palm fruits. Global energy politics will not lack the motivation to utilise these resources."
Sugar cane and labor conditions
Asked about the actions the government will take to prevent the exploitation of slave labor on sugar cane plantations, the President said there will be two steps taken towards that aim. The first one is to consolidate and promote ethanol's position - at least conceptually - as a viable and exceptional fuel source in the global energy matrix, that can be produced by countries in the South.

"In a second step, the question of the humanisation of the sugar cane sector in this country will be tackled, by opening a dialogue between the private companies and the workers, in order to improve labor conditions so that they can become professional citizens who can make the most of their lives."

President Lula did not exclude the possibility of sending a draft law to Congress aimed at rooting out manual slave labor once and for all. [Note: compared to previous governments, the current Brazilian executive has already made considerable progress on this front, by legislating working hours and by implementing a registration program that forces all companies to identify its workers, so the government knows who, when and where anyone is working.] "If it takes a law, we will make one ourselves, in collaboration with the labor union movement", the president concluded.

Image: Brazil's Lula harvesting castor beans for biodiesel.

More information:
Agência Brasil: Brasil vai apresentar em reunião do G 8 formas de incentivar biodiesel e etanol - May 15, 2007.


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