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

    Bulgaria's Rompetrol Rafinare is to start delivering Euro 4 grade diesel fuel with a 2% biodiesel content to its domestic market starting June 25, 2007. The same company recently started to distributing Super Ethanol E85 from its own brand and Dyneff brand filling stations in France. It is building a 2500 ton/month, €13.5/US$18 million biodiesel facility at its Petromidia refinery. BBJ - June 13, 2007.

    San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), a utility serving 3.4 million customers, announced it has signed a supply contract with Envirepel Energy, Inc. for renewable biomass energy that will be online by October 2007. Bioenergy is part of a 300MW fraction of SDG&E's portfolio of renewable resources. San Diego Gas & Electric - June 13, 2007.

    Cycleenergy, an Austrian bioenergy group, closed €6.7 million in equity financing for expansion of its biomass and biogas power plant activities in Central and Eastern Europe. The company is currently completing construction of a 5.5 MW (nominal) woodchip fired biomass facility in northern Austria and has a total of over 150 MW of biomass and biogas combined heat and power (CHP) projects across Central Europe in the pipeline. Cycleenergy Biopower [*.pdf] - June 12, 2007.

    The government of Taiwan unveils its plan to promote green energy, with all government vehicles in Taipei switching to E3 ethanol gasoline by September and biofuel expected to be available at all gas stations nationwide by 2011. Taipei Times - June 12, 2007.

    A large-scale biogas production project is on scheme in Vienna. 17,000 tonnes of organic municipal waste will be converted into biogas that will save up to 3000 tonnes of CO2. 1.7 million cubic meters of biogas will be generated that will be converted into 11.200 MWh of electricity per year in a CHP plant, the heat of which will be used by 600 Viennese households. The €13 million project will come online later this year. Wien Magazine [*German] - June 11, 2007.

    The annual biodiesel market in Bulgaria may grow to 400 000 tons in two to three years, a report by the Oxford Business Group says. The figure would represent a 300-per cent increase compared to 2006 when 140 000 tons of biodiesel were produced in Bulgaria. This also means that biofuel usage in Bulgaria will account for 5.75 per cent of all fuel consumption by 2010, as required by the European Commission. A total of 25 biofuel producing plants operate in Bulgaria at present. Sofia Echo - June 11, 2007.

    The Jordan Biogas Company in Ruseifa is currently conducting negotiations with the government of Finland to sell CER's under the UN's Clean Development Mechanism obtained from biogas generated at the Ruseifa landfill. Mena FN - June 11, 2007.

    Major European bank BNP Paribas will launch an investment company called Agrinvest this month to tap into the increased global demand for biofuels and rising consumption in Asia and emerging Europe. CityWire - June 8, 2007.

    Malaysian particleboard maker HeveaBoard Bhd expects to save some 12 million ringgit (€2.6/US$3.4 million) a year on fuel as its second plant is set to utilise biomass energy instead of fossil fuel. This would help improve operating margins, group managing director Tenson Yoong Tein Seng said. HeveaBoard, which commissioned the second plant last October, expects capacity utilisation to reach 70% by end of this year. The Star - June 8, 2007.

    Japan's Itochu Corp will team up with Brazilian state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA to produce sugar cane-based bioethanol for biofuels, with plans to start exporting the biofuel to Japan around 2010. Itochu and Petrobras will grow sugarcane as well as build five to seven refineries in the northeastern state of Pernambuco. The two aim to produce 270 million liters (71.3 million gallons) of bioethanol a year, and target sales of around 130 billion yen (€800million / US$1billion) from exports of the products to Japan. Forbes - June 8, 2007.

    Italian refining group Saras is building one of Spain's largest flexible biodiesel plants. The 200,000 ton per year factory in Cartagena can handle a variety of vegetable oils. The plant is due to start up in 2008 and will rely on European as well as imported feedstocks such as palm oil. Reuters - June 7, 2007.

    The University of New Hampshire's Biodiesel Group is to test a fully automated process to convert waste vegetable oil into biodiesel. It has partnered with MPB Bioenergy, whose small-scale processor will be used in the trials. UNH Biodiesel Group - June 7, 2007.

    According to the Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC), the Caribbean island state has a large enough potential to meet both its domestic ethanol needs (E10) and to export to international markets. BAMC is working with state actors to develop an entirely green biofuel production process based on bagasse and biomass. The Barbados Advocate - June 6, 2007.

    Energea, BioDiesel International and the Christof Group - three biodiesel producers from Austria - are negotiating with a number of Indonesian agribusiness companies to cooperate on biodiesel production, Austrian Commercial Counselor Raymund Gradt says. The three Austrian companies are leading technology solution providers for biodiesel production and currently produce a total of 440,000 tons of biodiesel per annum in Austria, more than half of their country’s annual demand of around 700,000-800,000 tons. In order to meet EU targets, they want to produce biodiesel abroad, where feedstocks and production is more competitive. BBJ - June 6, 2007.

    China will develop 200 million mu (13.3 million hectares) of forests by 2020 in order to supply the raw materials necessary for producing 6 million tons of biodiesel and biomass per year, state media reported today. InterFax China - June 6, 2007.

    British Petroleum is planning a biofuel production project in Indonesia. The plan is at an early stage, but will involve the establishment of an ethanol or biodiesel plant based on sugarcane or jatropha. The company is currently in talks with state-owned plantation and trading firm Rajawali Nusantara Indonesia (RNI) as its potential local partner for the project. Antara - June 6, 2007.

    A pilot project to produce biodiesel from used domestic vegetable oil is underway at the Canary Technological Institute in Gran Canaria. Marta Rodrigo, the woman heading up the team, said the project is part of the EU-wide Eramac scheme to encourage energy saving and the use of renewable energy. Tenerife News - June 6, 2007.

    Royal Dutch Shell Plc is expanding its fuel distribution infrastructure in Thailand by buying local petrol stations. The company will continue to provide premium petrol until market demand for gasohol (an petrol-ethanol mixture) climbs to 70-90%, which will prove customers are willing to switch to the biofuel. "What we focus on now is proving that our biofuel production technology is very friendly to engines", a company spokesman said. Bangkok Post - June 5, 2007.

    Abraaj, a Dubai-based firm, has bought the company Egyptian Fertilizers in order to benefit from rising demand for crops used to make biofuels. The Abraaj acquisition of all the shares of Egyptian Fertilizers values the company based in Suez at US$1.41 billion. Egyptian Fertilizers produces about 1.25 million tons a year of urea, a nitrogen-rich crystal used to enrich soils. The company plans to expand its production capacity by as much as 20 percent in the next two years on the expected global growth in biofuel production. International Herald Tribune - June 4, 2007.

    China and the US will soon sign a biofuel cooperation agreement involving second-generation fuels, a senior government official said. Ma Kai, director of the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a media briefing that vice premier Wu Yi discussed the pact with US Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman and other US officials during the strategic economic dialogue last month. Forbes - June 4, 2007.

    German biogas company Schmack Biogas AG reports a 372% increase in revenue for the first quarter of the year, demonstrating its fast growth. Part of it is derived from takeovers. Solarserver [*German] - June 3, 2007.

    Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC has suspended the export of 150,000 barrels per day of crude oil because of community unrest in southern Nigeria, a company spokesman said. Villagers from K-Dere in the restive Ogoniland had stormed the facility that feeds the Bonny export terminal, disrupting supply of crude. It was the second seizure in two weeks. Shell reported on May 15 that protesters occupied the same facility, causing a daily output loss of 170,000 barrels. Rigzone - June 2, 2007.

    Heathrow Airport has won approval to plan for the construction of a new 'green terminal', the buildings of which will be powered, heated and cooled by biomass. The new terminal, Heathrow East, should be completed in time for the 2012 London Olympics. The new buildings form part of operator BAA's £6.2bn 10-year investment programme to upgrade Heathrow. Transport Briefing - June 1, 2007.

    A new algae-biofuel company called LiveFuels Inc. secures US$10 million in series A financing. LiveFuels is a privately-backed company working towards the goal of creating commercially competitive biocrude oil from algae by 2010. PRNewswire - June 1, 2007.

    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.

Creative Commons License

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Global effort to fight energy poverty in Africa is launched at the World Economic Forum

Energy security and generalised access to modern energy are key factors determining the failure or success of the sustainable social and economic development of societies. In sub-Saharan Africa, half a billion people, or three quarters of the population, lives without access to electricity. This is a major barrier to human development since both issues are strictly correlated (graph 1, click to enlarge). Sub-Saharan African countries consistently rank at the bottom of the Energy Development Index [*.pdf] (table 1, click to enlarge).

For this reson, energy poverty is key at the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEF-A) taking place from 13 to 15 June in Cape Town, South Africa. New initiatives are underway to help tackle the problem, that is finally beginning to be recognised by the international development and aid community as one of the core elements of any development strategy. At the WEF-A, the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) today agreed to join the World Economic Forum’s Energy Poverty Alliance as part of a drive to provide basic electricity to African citizens. Jay Naidoo, Chairman of the Board, and Paul Baloyi, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Development Bank of Southern Africa, have committed to host the Energy Poverty Action Management Unit (EPAMU) at their offices in Midrand. Energy Poverty Action (EPA) was launched at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in 2005 in Davos.

The Energy Poverty Alliance is a private sector initiative that delivers business expertise and best practices to reduce energy poverty. The three initiating partners, British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority (Canada), Eskom (South Africa) and Vattenfall (Sweden), have already committed to developing pilot projects in Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo, initially providing electricity to more than 70,000 people.

Goals of the EPA are:
  • developing local capacity in construction, operation, maintenance and revenue management
  • ensuring the participation of local communities. The greatest use of local resources, both with respect to labour and material, will maximize development gains
  • promoting a culture of payment for electricity through the delivery of high-quality services
  • promoting investment in the power sector across the developing world through the efficient delivery of rural electrification systems and revenue management
  • promoting a market within governments, utilities, commercial companies, communities, donors, banks or NGOs which have a mandate or interest in rural electrification and have the means to pay for the necessary investment
  • designing and installing the energy system, including considering the full range of potential solutions (e.g., biomass, hydro, solar, wind and inductive power, lowcost grid connections, pre-payment systems)
  • empowering/training local organizations in charge of the operation and maintenance of the system
  • guaranteeing financial sustainability by designing the system such that the end users pay all costs required for the ongoing operation and maintenance; social and environmental sustainability will also be included
Christoph Frei, Director of Energy at the World Economic Forum, described the DBSA's partnership as a key milestone for the World Economic Forum's Alliance. "This provides a good platform to link international business capability with local community needs, to develop a brand for electrification projects, and help develop financing mechanisms," he said . Frei added that the Energy Poverty Alliance is an ideal vehicle to engage more companies in developing electricity infrastructure:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

"EPAMU will be developed into a centre of excellence that will employ skills and expertise from some of the most committed energy companies in the world. By developing sustainable, replicable models to address the challenges of energy poverty, EPAMU will facilitate the creation of local capacity, empowered to manage energy service delivery, maintain infrastructure and identify opportunities for future expansions. The key element is local empowerment and local economic sustainability, i.e. that the power systems are operated and maintained without the need for subsidies or transfers from the outside," said Steve J. Lennon, Managing Director, Resources and Strategy, Eskom, South Africa.

"The joint solution of using alternative sources of renewable energy, expanding the national and regional grids, and using innovative cost effective technologies will contribute to more individuals, industries and businesses gaining access to electricity; this is what EPA offers. And Eskom confidently supports EPAMU and its goals of increasing energy access in Africa," said Lennon.

African competitiveness
Also today, a new report from World Economic Forum, the World Bank and the African Development Bank on Africa's competitiveness was released which shows that African businesses can become far more competitive, but that African governments and their international partners will need to improve access to finance, rebuild infrastructure and strengthen institutions.

The conclusions, released today at the launch of a major new report, The Africa Competitiveness Report 2007, reflect research efforts of three institutions – the World Economic Forum, the African Development Bank and the World Bank. Low access to financial services emerges as a major obstacle for African enterprises, but poor infrastructure, corruption and weak institutions also make African goods and services less competitive in the global marketplace. The report also points to the growing number of success stories in the region that show the steps countries can take to improve business conditions.

The jointly produced report was released ahead of the World Economic Forum on Africa where it will be discussed in-depth. It is the first report on the region’s business environment to leverage knowledge and expertise within the three organizations, marking a new level of research cooperation. The report also presents an integrated vision of the policy challenges African nations face as they build a foundation for sustainable growth and prosperity.

The five common themes that emerge from the analysis of the competitiveness landscape in Africa are:
  1. Good policies are critical for a sound business environment. Policies are more important than geography or the abundance of natural resources. Countries that have implemented sound policies rank higher on competitiveness, with better growth and productivity outcomes.
  2. A critical constraint to businesses in Africa is access to finance. Further, improvements in the regulatory environment (such as better collateralization, transparency and auditing) represent a necessary step for unleashing the potential of finance for competitiveness in Africa.
  3. Infrastructure remains one of the top constraints to businesses in Africa. Energy and transportation are among the main bottlenecks to productivity growth and competitiveness in Africa. Firms lose as much as 8% of sales due to power outages, and transportation delays can account for as much as 3% of lost sales.
  4. Corruption in Africa is a serious obstacle to improving productivity and competitiveness. The frequent payment of bribes, inconsistent enforcement of regulations, significant time spent with officials and political favours directed to special interest groups significantly impact productivity.
  5. There are significant examples of success throughout the region. The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index shows that the region, and sub-Saharan Africa in particular, lags primarily in the basics of infrastructure and education. However, many countries perform much better on issues associated with technological readiness and efficiency. Sustaining and expanding these opportunities remains a challenge.
“The work done by the World Economic Forum in the area of competitiveness is an important contribution to a better understanding of the challenges faced by policy-makers and the international community in their efforts to better assist these countries. This year’s Africa Competitiveness Report is a comprehensive attempt by our three organizations to place the continent in a broader international context and to cast light on the important aspects of development in the region,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

"Africa has the potential to become a far more competitive player in the global economy," said Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili, Vice-President, Africa Region, World Bank, Washington DC. "The study finds that, while a number of governments have significantly improved the business climate in their countries, the region as a whole has much more to do to make Africa a competitive location for enterprise. These changes in the business climate, together with greater access to finance and new investment in infrastructure, should come together to advance Africa’s drive to develop, create jobs and reduce poverty."

“The key to the future of African economies is trade and investment and, therefore, the business climate. Our aims at the African Development Bank are to act as a catalyst, to enhance the investment climate and to respond to demand in support of the Bank’s development goals. This is achieved by rallying investors to look at opportunities in African countries differently. I applaud the palpable progress being made in the regulatory and institutional domains. But we must vigorously now deal with the other set of barriers – physical – that means infrastructure. It is crystal clear today that energy shortages, poor roads and inadequate communication between countries and regions constitute a real impediment to the private sector and economic growth and, in the case of energy shortages, threaten to roll back economic achievements of the last six years,” said Donald Kaberuka, President, African Development Bank (ADB), Tunis.

The report analyses many aspects of Africa’s business environment and highlights the key issues that hinder improvements in Africa’s competitiveness and job growth. This year it examines many aspects of Africa’s business environment and themes that will boost the prosperity of nations. This includes detailed assessments of the drivers of productivity and employment growth, including the rankings of 29 African countries in the Global Competitiveness Index; the competitiveness and investment climate in Africa’s four largest economies (South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt); the effect of gender disparities on employment and competitiveness; and the role of new technologies in fostering a more dynamic business environment.

Also included are detailed competitiveness and investment climate profiles, providing a comprehensive summary of the drivers of the competitiveness environment in each of the countries included in the report.

The Africa Competitiveness Report 2007 is an invaluable tool for policymakers, business strategists and other key stakeholders, as well as essential reading for all those with an interest in the region.

More information:
World Economic Forum: Energy Poverty Action [*.pdf] - brochure.

An interesting overview of the concept of global energy security is provided by the World Economic Forum and Cambridge Energy Research Associates who jointly produced The New Energy Security Paradigm [*.pdf] - Spring 2006.

For an in-depth analysis of energy's role in social and economic development, see the still authoritative theme chapter titled "Energy and Development" in the IEA's World Energy Outlook 2004 [*.pdf]. The text contains an interesting index tieing the Human Development Index to an Energy Index, resulting in the IEA's 'Energy Development Index'.

World Economic Forum: The Africa Competitiveness Report 2007 [*.html version, *.pdf version can be found here] - June 13, 2007.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home