<body> --------------
Contact Us       Consulting       Projects       Our Goals       About Us
home » Archive »
Nature Blog Network

    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.

    The Cypriot parliament has rejected an amendment by President Papadopoulos on the law regarding the use of biofuels that contain genetically modified substances. The amendment called for an alteration in the law that currently did not allow the import or use of biofuels that had been produced using GM substances, something that goes against a recent EU Directive on GMOs. Cyprus Mail - May 18, 2007.

    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.

Creative Commons License

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Lusophone world and China join forces to produce biofuels in Mozambique

For development economists, Mozambique is one of Africa's brightest success stories. After a cruel civil war that lasted nearly two decades (1975-1992), the country organised general elections, took a careful approach to the 'structural adjustment' programs introduced by international institutions like the World Bank and the IMF, and, ensuring political and economic stability, steadily attracted foreign investments. The country's GNI has doubled in the past 5 years, and GDP growth was 7.7% last year (World Bank data).

Some observers have asked why the transition to peace and democracy took so much longer in Angola, that other former Portuguese colony mired in conflict. The answer: the presence of oil and diamonds. As is often the case in Africa, the black gold is a true curse and a barrier to development. Mozambique has more traditional assets, less prone to triggering resource wars, such as a large agricultural potential.

This potential is now being (re)discovered by the Lusophone world. And biofuels are the focus of the attention. Mozambique has several advantages which make it an interesting bioenergy producer: suitable agroclimatic and agro-ecological conditions for a wide range of energy crops, including sugar cane and tree crops; abundant arable land resources, and a largely rural population (amongst the poorest of the world) craving for employment and increased incomes.

Fuel prices have been increasing and put a serious brake on the country's development, which is why the Mozambican government itself is studying the biofuels opportunity. The Energy Ministry says recent increases (9.3% in April, another 3% this week) in prices of diesel, petrol, paraffin, aviation fuel and domestic gas are a result of increased import costs. The Mozambican government has even been forced to enter into negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank for an additional US$50 million in its foreign reserves to strengthen its capacity to import refined fuels. In search for an alternative, the Mozambican government has recently encouraged farmers to start growing biofuel crops such as jatropha. A real policy is not in place yet, but the Lusophone countries - Brazil, Portugal and China (via Macau) - are helping to craft one.

Biofuel 'super power'
Experts from the International Energy Agency estimate that Mozambique alone can produce nearly 7 Exajoules worth of liquid biofuels for exports, without threatening food supplies for its rapidly growing population or biodiversity and protected conservation areas. This amount is roughly equal to a production of 3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (and given its renewability, this 'green reserve' lasts for decades). In order to actualise the potential, the country does need an influx of investments in agronomic knowledge and skills, logistical infrastructures and biofuel production plants. On all these fronts, the Lusophone world is offering assistance, either trilaterally or bilaterally, in purely private or in public-private ventures.

Sino-Brazilian cooperation
First of all, Brazil's EMBRAPA, the world's leading research organisation dealing with tropical agriculture, is assisting with analysing the biofuel production potential in collaboration with a Portuguese company that acquired 100,000 hectares of land in Mozambique. EMBRAPA already has established an Africa office in Accra, Ghana, from where it enters into cooperation agreements with African countries in the fields of agriculture and bioenergy (earlier post). The same organisation attracted interest from the All China Federation, the world's largest trade union organisation uniting 130 million members, which wants to collaborate on biofuels in Mozambique as well.

China has a growing presence in the country and in Southern Africa in general, mainly aimed at exploiting mineral resources it needs for its own development. But now the rising giant is looking at agriculture and biofuels, and has created a synergy with EMBRAPA: whereas the latter organisation provides agronomic expertise, China will invest in much needed infrastructures (road, rail, waterways) which must make it possible to bring products to market. The cooperation in Mozambique is part of China's US$5 billion investment strategy for Southern Africa. The Portuguese Millennium Bank, via its 'Conselho Comercial China-África', is to open large credit lines for Chinese companies starting infrastructure projects in Mozambique:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Brazil with Portugal and Italy
Secondly, Portugal's Galp Energia today created a joint-venture with Brazil's Petrobras, aimed at producing 600,000 tons of second-generation biodiesel ('H-Bio') in Brazil, for exports to Portugal. But both companies are now studying to involve Mozambique (and Angola) in the effort, because feedstock production there can serve efforts to alleviate poverty and bring employment to small farmers. 400,000 to 800,000 hectares of suitable land have been identified there.

Likewise, Petrobras and Italy's state-owned oil company ENI, are collaborating on both ethanol and biodiesel production in Mozambique (earlier post). The Italian giant is increasing its presence in Africa in traditional oil production, most notably in Angola and Congo, where it is also looking at exploring the biofuels potential.

Win-win synergy
Mozambique stands to gain from such 'trilateral' approaches to development. It will be crucial to distribute the country's rapidly growing economic wealth amongst the general population. One way to do this is by modernising agriculture and by creating new markets like the bioenergy market.

Since biofuel production is labor intensive and draws upon imputs from farmers, the opportunity is the best there is to activate the rural populations. Foreign knowledge and technology is needed to help farmers increase productivity, since Mozambican peasants currently use their land very inefficiently (yields are extremely low because of a lack of the most basic inputs, such as fertilizers, good quality seeds and basic agronomic knowledge). By drawing on this expertise from outside, and because of much-needed investments in infrastructures (such as tertiary and secondary roads connecting the country-side to main roads), a positive synergy between food and fuel production can be created: increased farmers' incomes from biofuel feedstock production can be invested in more efficient food production, and vice-versa.

More information:
Jornal Mundo Lusíada: Banco Millennium financiará aporte chinês em Angola e Moçambique - May 15, 2007.

Jornal de Notícias: Galp investe 50 milhões na refinaria de Matosinhos - May 19, 2007.

Sunday Times (South Africa): Fuel price up in Mozambique - May 19, 2007.

Macau Hub: Estatal brasileira Embrapa vai investir em África nos países onde a China vai aplicar cinco mil milhões de dólares - May 7, 2007.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home