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    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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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

World's first carbon-negative energy system planned in Netherlands: biomass with carbon capture

Dutch media report [*Dutch] that diversified energy firm Nuon is in the final stages of creating the world's first large-scale carbon-negative energy system in Eemshaven, the Netherlands.

The system comes close to what scientists describe as 'Bio-Energy with Carbon Storage' (BECS), thought to be one of the most effective technology routes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a radical way. Nuon is building a large (1200MW) coal gasification plant that will co-fire increasing amounts of biomass, capture the carbon dioxide released and bury it in depleted natural gas fields (of which there are more and more in the Netherlands). The result is a carbon-negative energy system.

According to scientists who studied BECS-models in the context of 'Abrupt Climate Change' (a catastrophic scenario that would require rapid and planetary geo-engineering interventions), the global implementation of such carbon-negative energy systems can take us back to pre-industrial CO2 levels by mid-century. Such systems are seen as one of the few realistic geo-engineering options available to us: a system that radically takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, while at the same time delivering energy with which we can continue to power our societies. No other (renewable) energy technology (wind, nuclear, solar) makes this possible, since they are all slightly carbon positive.

BECS is carbon-negative because it relies on (almost) carbon-neutral biomass. As biomass feedstocks grow (preferrably in the tropics, where there is a huge potential and where their production is highly efficient, provides jobs to the poor and results in an albedo effect that cools the planet), they take CO2 out of the atmosphere. When the feedstock is then burned (co-fired with small amounts of coal or 100% biomass), and the carbon captured and stored, the system effectively takes more CO2 out of the atmosphere than it releases. In short, BECS clean up our emissions from the past.

Since carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies still pose several risks, the safest route to testing them is immediately to start with biomass. The reason is obvious: in a worst-case scenario – the failure of storage and CO2 leakage – the carbon dioxide that would be released would not result in a net increase in emissions (since the CO2 was part of the carbon-neutral biomass in the first place). If leakage were to occur with carbon dioxide originating from fossil fuels, the contrary would be the case. In short, starting CCS trials with biomass is the safest way forward (see EurActiv).

The Nuon project is the first concrete and large-scale BECS-system. On April 26, Secretary-General of the VROM (Dutch Environment Ministry) Van der Vlist, Nuon director Ludo van Halderen and Hans Alders, representative of the Queen of the Netherlands in the Province of Groningen (where the plant is located), signed a memorandum of understanding [*Dutch/*.pdf] which basically contains the go-ahead for the project and national and provincial funding. Costs for capturing the carbon dioxide in the large plant will be in the tens of millions of Euros, but carbon-credits off-set these:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The Dutch government will cover most of the costs for the carbon capture and storage component. The project is expected to come online next year, with full-scale CCS operations starting in 2013. The co-firing of biomass has the added advantage of reducing emissions of SOx and NOx.

BECS-systems can be implemented with all types of biofuels - liquid, gaseous or solid - but some have particular advantages over others. Capturing carbon dioxide is the most expensive step of CCS technologies, with several new techniques under development. One of them however stands out: pre-combustion CO2 capture of biogas. This technique is the least costly, because the amount of CO2 in biogas is large compared to that of natural gas, whereas the gaseous nature of the fuel allows for CO2 separation before the gas is combusted (earlier post).

Several CCS-projects and tests are underway in different parts of the world (particularly in France, Germany, the UK and Australia), but the Dutch project, explicitly aimed at co-firing biomass and possibly evolving to a 100% biomass fuelled plant, is the first genuine BECS-system.

Another approach to designing carbon-negative energy systems relies on utilising biomass for energy, while storing part of the waste-biomass as biochar (obtained from pyrolysis or by charcoal production techniques) in soils, which act as sequestration bodies. The advantage of such a system is that it improves the fertility of agricultural land (earlier post).

More information:
Rembrandt Koppelaar, Dutch Peak Oil Association: "Vergevorderde plannen voor Nederlandse CO2 opslag" [*Dutch] - April 29, 2007.
AgriHolland: "Groningen tekent intentieverklaring grootschalige afvang en opslag CO2" [*Dutch]- May 2, 2007.
Province of Groningen: "Intentieverklaring CO2 afvang, transport en opslag" [*Dutch/*.pdf] - April 27, 2007.


Francesco DeParis said...

This type of project poses an interesting investor-related question. If this truly is carbon-negative, how profitable will this type of project be with and without carbon credits? Selling them on the exchange is one idea, but re-packaging them as Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) might be more profitable considering they can be sold directly to the end-consumer without middle-men. I wrote a post about the great opportunity RECs have in the US, "RECs (Renewable Energy Credits): Brokers Beware, Producers Will Get You!” .

I comment regularly on the business/investor side of alternative energy on Energy Spin: Alternative Energy Blog for Investors-Served Daily

Francesco DeParis

11:06 PM  
rufus said...

This comment belongs with a previous thread, but, hey, better late than never, right?

Hasn't it occurred to any of our State Dept/Military types that we have to do something with Afghanistan's Poppies? I mean, it's about the only thing that will grow over there, and you can't ask the people to starve.

They would make good biofuels (biodiesel,) though. They'll turn out about twice as much oil/acre as soy beans. You could even run the stalks through an anaerobic digester and get biogas for cooking, and fertilizer for the next crop.

Just sayin

7:40 AM  

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