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    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.

    A Scania OmniCity double-decker bus to be deployed by Transport for London (TfL) will be powered by ethanol made from Brazilian sugar cane, TfL Coordinator Helen Woolston told a bioethanol conference in London. The bus will join a fleet of seven hybrid diesel-electric buses currently running in London, where TfL plans to introduce 50 more hybrid buses by the end of 2008. EEMS Online - April 24, 2007.

    Virgin Atlantic plans to fly a 747 jumbojet on a mix of 60% biofuel and 40% kerosene in 2008. Sir Richard Branson is collaborating with Boeing to achieve this milestone in aviation history. He already hinted at the fact that the biofuels "it was possible the crops could be grown in Africa, thereby helping to alleviate poverty on the continent at the same time as safeguarding the environment." More details to be announced soon. Telegraph - April 24, 2007.

    A top executive of General Motors, vice-chairman Bob Lutz, says the US should launch a 'Manhattan Project' for biofuels to make a 'wholesale switch' within five years. Kentucky.com - April 24, 2007.

    Canada's new government launches a C$200 million 'Ecoagriculture Biofuels Capital Initiative' aimed at helping agricultural producers construct or expand transportation biofuel production facilities. Government of Canada - April 24, 2007.

    Russian oil company Lukoil reportedly installed production facilities for obtaining biofuels in its refinery Neftochim in the coastal city of Bourgas. Lukoil has over 2500 oil stations in Europe, the largest number of which are located in Bulgaria, which joined the EU this year. Sofia Echo - April 22, 2007.

    The government of the Indian state of Haryana approves three small-scale (1MW) biomass gasification projects, while the Haryana Renewable Energy Development Agency (HAREDA) identifies seven industrial sectors it will help to adopt the biomass gasification technology to meet their captive thermal and electrical requirements. Economic Times - April 21, 2007.

    The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) is planning to build a coconut oil biodiesel plant in Ivisan, Capiz (a province in the Western Visayas region) by the middle of this year in response to the growing demand for biodiesel. News Today (Iloilo City) - April 20, 2007.

    Scientists working for Royal Nedalco (involved in cellulosic ethanol production), the Delft University of Technology and a firm called Bird Engineering have found a fungus in elephant dung that helped them produce a yeast strain which can efficiently ferment xylose into ethanol. The researchers consider this to be a breakthrough and see widespread application of the yeast within 5 years. More info to follow as details emerge. Scientific American - April 19, 2007.

    As part of its 'Le dessous des cartes' magazine, Europe's culture TV channel ARTE airs a documentary about the geopolitics of sustainable transport tonight, at 10.20 pm CET. Readers outside of Europe can catch it here. ARTE - April 18, 2007.

    Spain's diversified company the Ferry Group is investing €50 million into a biomass plantation in new EU-memberstate Bulgaria. The project will see the establishment of a 8000ha plantation of hybrid paulownia trees that will be used for the production of fuel pellets. Dnevnik, Bulgaria - April 18, 2007.

    Bioprocess Control signs agreement with Svensk Biogas and forms closer ties with Swedish Biogas International. Bioprocess Control develops high-tech applications that optimise the commercial production of biogas. It won Sweden's prestigious national clean-tech innovations competition MiljöInnovation 2007 for its 'Biogas Optimizer' that accelerates the biogas production process and ensures greater process stability. NewsDesk Sweden - April 17, 2007.

    A joint Bioenergy project of Purdue University and Archer Daniels Midland Company has been selected to receive funding by the U.S. Department of Energy to further the commercialization of highly-efficient yeast which converts cellulosic materials into ethanol through fermentation. ADM - April 17, 2007.

    Researchers at Iowa State University and the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Services (ARS) have found that glycerin, a biodiesel by-product, is as effective as conventional corn-soymeal diets for pigs. AllAboutFeed - April 16, 2007.

    U.S. demand for uranium may surge by a third amid a revival in atomic power projects, increasing concern that imports will increase and that limited supplies may push prices higher, the Nuclear Energy Institute says. Prices touched all time highs of US$113 a pound in an auction last week by a U.S producer amid plans by China and India to expand their nuclear power capacity. International Herald Tribune - April 16, 2007.

    Taiwan mandates a 1% biodiesel and ethanol blend for all diesel and gasoline sold in the country, to become effective next year. By 2010, the ratio will be increased to 2%. WisconsinAg Connection - April 16, 2007.

    Vietnam has won the prestigious EU-sponsored Energy Globe award for 2006 for a community biogas program, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development announced. ThanhNien News - April 13, 2007.

    Given unstable fossil fuel prices and their negative effects on the economy, Tanzania envisages large-scale agriculture of energy crops Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Mr Christopher Chiza has said. A 600 hectare jatropha seed production effort is underway, with the seeds expected to be distributed to farmers during the 2009/2010 growing season. Daily News (Dar es Salaam) - April 12, 2007.

    Renault has announced it will launch a flex-fuel version of its Logan in Brazil in July. Brazilian autosales rose 28% to 1,834,581 in 2006 from 2004. GreenCarCongress - April 12, 2007.

    Chevron and Weyerhouser, one of the largest forest products companies, are joining forces to research next generation biofuels. The companies will focus on developing technology that can transform wood fiber and other nonfood sources of cellulose into economical, clean-burning biofuels for cars and trucks. PRNewswire - April 12, 2007.

    BioConversion Blog's C. Scott Miller discusses the publication of 'The BioTown Source Book', which offers a very accessible introduction to the many different bioconversion technologies currently driving the bioenergy sector. BioConversion Blog - April 11, 2007.

    China's State Forestry Administration (SFA) and the China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Import & Export Corp., Ltd. (COFCO) have signed a framework agreement over plans to cooperatively develop forest bioenergy resources, COFCO announced on its web site. Interfax China - April 11, 2007.

    The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of El Salvador is speeding up writing the country's biofuels law in order to take advantage of the US-Brazil cooperation agreement which identified the country as one where projects can be launched fairly quickly. The bill is expected to be presented to parliament in the coming weeks. El Porvenir - April 11, 2007.

    ConocoPhillips will establish an eight-year, $22.5 million research program at Iowa State University dedicated to developing technologies that produce biofuels. The grant is part of ConocoPhillips' plan to create joint research programs with major universities to produce viable solutions to diversify America's energy sources. Iowa State University - April 11, 2007.

    Interstate Power and Light has decided to utilize super-critical pulverized coal boiler technology at its large (600MW) new generation facility planned for Marshalltown, Iowa. The plant is designed to co-fire biomass and has a cogeneration component. The investment tops US$1billion. PRNewswire - April 10, 2007.

    One of India's largest sugar companies, the Birla group will invest 8 billion rupees (US$187 million) to expand sugar and biofuel ethanol output and produce renewable electricity from bagasse, to generate more revenue streams from its sugar business. Reuters India - April 9, 2007.

    An Iranian firm, Mashal Khazar Darya, is to build a cellulosic ethanol plant that will utilise switchgrass as its feedstock at a site it owns in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The investment is estimated to be worth €112/US$150 million. The plant's capacity will be 378 million liters (100 million gallons), supplied by switchgrass grown on 4400 hectares of land. PressTv (Iran) - April 9, 2007.

    The Africa Power & Electricity Congress and Exhibition, to take place from 16 - 20 April 2007, in the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa, will focus on bioenergy and biofuels. The Statesman - April 7, 2007.

    Petrobras and Petroecuador have signed a joint performance MOU for a technical, economic and legal viability study to develop joint projects in biofuel production and distribution in Ecuador. The project includes possible joint Petroecuador and Petrobras investments, in addition to qualifying the Ecuadorian staff that is directly involved in biofuel-related activities with the exchange of professionals and technical training. PetroBras - April 5, 2007.

    The Société de Transport de Montréal is to buy 8 biodiesel-electric hybrid buses that will use 20% less fuel and cut 330 tons of GHG emissions per annum. Courrier Ahuntsic - April 3, 2007.

    Thailand mandates B2, a mixture of 2% biodiesel and 98% diesel. According to Energy Minister Piyasvasti Amranand, the mandate comes into effect by April next year. Bangkok Post - April 3, 2007.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

D1 Oils has planted over 156,000 hectares of jatropha

D1 Oils PLC has announced [*.pdf] it has planted over 156,000 hectares (385,500 acres) of Jatropha curcas in Africa, India and South East Asia, so far, adding 10,000 hectares planted in the last two weeks of the year's first quarter (table, click to enlarge). The biofuel company said the majority of this increase was accounted for by planting in Africa, "with planting under contract farming arrangements in Zambia continuing to make particularly good progress." With an expected yield of 2000 liters of biodiesel per hectare and a productive life of 50 years per tree, D1 Oils now owns a virtual biofuel reserve of around 94 million barrels of oil equivalent.

The company establishes jatropha plantations for the plant's seed oil, which yields more biofuel per hectare than corn and soya, can restore degraded, low-value lands and prevents erosion. Jatropha curcas takes some 3 years to grow before harvestable quantities of seed can be obtained. The biofuel company expects first supplies of jatropha oil from 2008 onwards. Jatropha trees have a productive life of between 30 and 50 years.

D1 Oils works with subsidiaries and joint ventures to control the flow of feedstocks and to manage the plantation activities. The level of investment costs and security of future oil supply from planting are proportional to the degree of direct involvement by D1 and its partners. Managed plantations are those farms where land and labour is controlled by D1, either through its subsidiaries or joint venture partners.

Under contract farming, the farmer plants his own trees on his own land. D1 and its partners assist with the provision of seedlings and the arrangement of bank finance for planting, and offer a buyback of harvested seeds with an offtake agreement. D1 provides support and advice during cultivation, and monitors the condition of the crops. Seed and oil supply agreements are arms-length supply contracts with third parties whereby D1, either directly or through joint venture partners, has offtake arrangements in place over future output from jatropha plantations which the third party is developing. D1 has limited involvement in this planting and relies on third parties to measure and manage the crop effectively.

Plant science
D1 Oils' plant science programme has gathered a wide range of jatropha material to support the first ever commercial breeding and product placement trials for this crop. The scientists have now collected more than 200 accessions of jatropha from three different continents and over twenty countries:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Using field and laboratory data from this material, D1 Oils has established a breeding process and global trials network to identify which individual jatropha cultivars are best adapted to the different cultivation zones.

The first commercial outcome of the plant science programme is elite seed material dubbed 'E1', selected for higher yield and good biodiesel profile. D1 Oils expects this seed will deliver oil yields of 2.7 tonnes per hectare under properly managed conditions when the trees attain maturity. E1 seed multiplication is continuing in all three regions. The biofuel company expects to be able to plant 50,000 hectares with this material in 2008.

Refining and trading
Along with agronomy, the company also refines and trades biodiesel. In a first quarter business update, D1 said it delivered a fifth refinery unit to its producing refinery at Teeside, which will increase production capacity there to 42,000 tonnes per year. The company also said work on its second UK refinery site at Bromborough, which it bought in January, continues on track.

The company announced last month that it anticipates that the new site will add a further 100,000 tonnes of refining capacity by the end of 2007, although its plans to increase output to 320,000 tonnes per year have been pushed back by one year to the end of 2008, prompted by lower margins.

The company's principal revenues currently come from refining soya feedstock into biodiesel, and UK refining margins are being squeezed by lower diesel prices and higher feedstock costs.

D1 said last month that it ran its refineries below capacity in order to continue to benefit from 2006 hedged soya prices, but added it would be able to ramp up capacity if diesel prices rose or feedstock costs declined.

Ultimately the company is aiming to refine non-edible feedstock like jatropha because it expects prices of edible feedstock like corn and soya to continue to rise as the food and biodiesel markets compete for the product.

Chief executive Elliott Mannis said; 'The delivery of our fifth D1 20 refinery to Teesside and the expansion of capacity at Bromborough reaffirm our commitment to expand prudently our UK refining capacity in advance of the implementation of the UK RTFO in April 2008.'

The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation is a government requirement on transport fuel suppliers to ensure that a certain percentage of their sales is made up of biofuels. It will come into effect in 2008, and the percentage requirements for renewable fuels sold on UK forecourts will increase each year to a maximum of 5 pct by 2010.

The obligation will be supported by a fuel duty incentive of 20 pence per litre as well as a 15 pence per litre 'buy-out price' (the penalty for those who are unable to supply enough biofuel).

D1 believes the introduction of the RTFO and its incentives will improve margins, and expects it will create an annual UK market for at least 1 mln tonnes of biodiesel by 2010.

More information:
Hemscott: D1 Oils lifts jatropha planting to 156,000 hectares by end Q1 - May 2, 2007.

D1 Oils: D1 Oils Q1 2007 Business Update - May 2, 2007.


Sebastien Douville said...

Having tracked D1 for a while now, I am puzzled by the market's weak response to the company's Q4 2006 and Q1 2007 planting and agronomics reports.

Back in October, D1 was a "strong buy" recommendation at 212.25 pence. The share price dropped as low as 124 pence in early March 2007, but has slowly crawled back to 175 pence. What's going on?

Are investors waiting more concrete results, i.e. when the first litre/gallon of jatropha oil is actually shipped and processed in D1's refineries? Or are they concerned with North-South logistics, e.g. bringing jatropha oil from landlocked Zambia and Swaziland, which account for about a fifth of all acreage? Are the company's financials solid enough to get it to the point it will be producing enough jatropha oil from its plantations to supply over half of the entire 2006 biodiesel consumption in the US?

D1 seems to be doing everything it can to move away from conventional biodiesel commodities such as palm and soy oils, and rightly so for all the reasons Biopact points to time and time again. I look forward to see how its business plan will be rewarded on the London exchange.

12:59 AM  

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