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    Netherlands-based oil, gas, power and chemical industries service group Bateman Litwin N.V. announces it has signed an agreement to acquire Delta-T Corporation, a leading US-based bioethanol technology provider, with a fast growing engineering, procurement and construction division for a total consideration of US$45 million in cash and 11.8 million new ordinary shares in Bateman Litwin. Bateman Litwin - July 18, 2007.

    TexCom, Inc. announced today that it has signed a letter of intent to acquire Biodiesel International Corp. (BIC), and is developing a plan to build an integrated oilseed crushing and biodiesel production facility in Paraguay. The facility, as it is currently contemplated, would process 2,000 metric tons of oil seeds per day, yielding approximately 136,000 metric tons (approximately 39 Million Gallons) of biodiesel and 560,000 metric tons of soy meal pellets per year. Initial feedstock will consist mainly of soybeans that are grown in the immediate area of the proposed production plant in the Provinces of Itapua and Alto Parana. MarketWire - July 18, 2007.

    Spanish power company Elecnor announced that it will build Spain's biggest biodiesel production plant for €70 million (US$96.48 million). The plant, in the port of Gijon in northern Spain, will be ready in 22 months and will produce up to 500,000 tonnes of biodiesel a year from vegetable oil. The plant will be one of the world's biggest. Spain has decided to impose mandatory blending of biofuels with conventional fossil fuels as part of European Union efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Elecnor [*Spanish] - July 18, 2007.

    The University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) conducted a feasibility study to determine the most economical solutions to provide biomass energy to the isolated Chugachmiut Tribal Community in the village of Port Graham, Alaska, located on the Kenai Peninsula about 180 miles southwest of Anchorage. The village is only accessible by air or water, making traditional fossil fuel sources expensive to deliver and alternative forms of energy difficult to implement. The case study based on decentralised bioenergy offers interesting parallels to what would be needed to provide energy to the developing world's huge population that lives in similarly isolated conditions. EERC - July 18, 2007.

    According to a basic market report by Global Industries Inc., world biodiesel sales are expected to exceed 4.7 billion gallons (17.8 billion liters) by 2010. Though Europe, with a share estimated at 84.16% in 2006, constitutes the largest market, and will continue to do so for the coming years, major growth is expected to emanate from the United States. The automobile applications market for biodiesel, with an estimated share of 55.73% in 2006 constitutes the largest as well as the fastest growing end use application. Other applications independently analyzed include the Mining Applications market and the Marine Applications market. PRWeb - July 18, 2007.

    O2Diesel Corporation announced that it has received the regulatory approvals necessary to start delivering its proprietary diesel ethanol blended fuel, O2Diesel, in the French market. The approvals pave the way for O2Diesel to move forward into the next stage of its European market development strategy by commencing deliveries to a number of targeted fleets in France. MarketWire - July 17, 2007.

    The BBC World Service is hosting a series of programmes on the global obesity pandemic. Over the coming two weeks a range of documentaries and discussions will be held on the obesity time-bomb that is growing all over the West, but also in the developing world. In North America, a quarter of people are now morbidly obese, 60% is overweight, and one in three children will become obese. The epidemic is spreading rapidly to China and India. BBC World Service - July 16, 2007.

    A new report from Oregon State University shows the biofuels industry is on track to be a $2.5 billion chunk of the state's economy within 20 years. The study identifies 80 potential biodiesel, ethanol and biomass facilities which could produce a combined 400 million gallons (1.5 billion liters) per year of ethanol and another 315 million gallons (1.2 billion liters) of biodiesel. On an oil equivalent basis, this comes down to around 38,000 barrels per day. Oregon State University - July 16, 2007.

    Jatropha biodiesel manufacturer D1 Oils has appointed a leading plant scientist to its board of directors. Professor Christopher Leaver, Sibthorpian professor of plant science and head of the plant sciences department at Oxford University, has joined the Teesside company as a non-executive director. Professor Leaver, who was awarded a CBE in 2000, is a leading expert in the molecular and biochemical basis of plant growth and differentiation. D1Oils Plc - July 16, 2007.

    Panama and South Africa are set to cooperate on biofuels. A delegation consisting of vice-minister of Foreign Affairs Azis Pahad, of Finance, Jubulai Moreketi and of Finance, met with Panama's vice-chancellor Ricardo Durán to discuss joint biodiesel and ethanol production and distribution. Panama's goal is to become a hub for internationally traded bioenergy, making use of the strategic position of the Canal. La Prensa Gráfica [*Spanish] - July 14, 2007.

    Spanish investors are studying the opportunity to invest in agro-industrial projects in Morocco aimed at producing biofuel from the Jatropha plant. Morocco’s Minister for Energy and Mines, Mohammed Boutaleb, said Moroccan authorities are willing to provide the necessary land available to them, provided that the land is not agricultural, is located in semi-arid regions, and that the investors agree to use water-saving agricultural techniques, such as drip-feed irrigation. Magharebia - July 14, 2007.

    Philippine Basic Petroleum Corp. plans to raise as much as 2.8 billion pesos (€44.4/US$61.2 million) through a follow-on offering and loans to finance a 200,000 liter per day bio-ethanol plant in the province of Zamboanga del Norte. The move into biofuels comes in anticipation of the implementation of RA 9367 or the Philippines biofuels law. RA 9367 mandates five percent bioethanol blending into gasoline by 2009, and 10 percent by 2011. Manila Bulletin - July 14, 2007.

    The Michigan Economic Development Corporation last week awarded a $3.4 million grant to redevelop the former Pfizer research facility in Holland into a bioeconomy research and commercialization center. Michigan State University will use the facility to develop technologies that derive alternative energy from agri-based renewable resources. Michigan.org - July 13, 2007.

    Fuel prices increased three times in Mozambique this year due to high import costs. For this reason, the country is looking into biofuels as an alternative. Mozambique's ministries of agriculture and energy presented a study showing that more than five million hectares of land can be used sustainably in the production of crops that would produce biodiesel fuels. The first phase of a biofuel implementation plan was also presented, identifying the provinces of Inhambane, Zambezia, Nampula and Cabo Delgado as the first to benefit. News24 (Capetown) - July 12, 2007.

    The Malaysian Oleochemical Manufacturers Group (MOMG) has urged the government for incentives and grants to companies to encourage the development of new uses and applications for glycerine, the most important byproduct of biodiesel. Global production of glycerine is currently about one million tonnes. For every 10 tonnes of oil processed into biodiesel, one tonne of glycerine emerges as a by-product. Bernama - July 12, 2007.

    BioDiesel International AG has acquired 70 per cent of the shares in Lignosol, a Salzburg based company that is making promising progress in Biomass-to-Liquids conversion techniques. The purchase price is in the single-digit million Euro range. ACN - July 10, 2007.

    Gay & Robinson Inc. and Pacific West Energy LLC announced today a partnership to develop an ethanol plant in Hawaii based on sugarcane feedstocks. The plant's capacity is around 12 million gallons (45 million liters) per year. The partnership called Gay & Robinson Ag-Energy LLC, will also ensure the continuation of the Gay & Robinson agricultural enterprise, one of the oldest in Hawaii. Approximately 230 jobs will be preserved, and a large area of West Kauai will be maintained in sustainable agriculture. Business Wire - July 10, 2007.

    Water for Asian Cities (WAC), part of UN-Habitat, is extending partial financial support for the construction of several biogas plants across the Kathmandu valley and develop them as models for municipal waste management. The first biogas plants will be built in Khokna, Godavari, Kalimati, Patan, Tribhuvan University premises, Amrit Science College premises and Thimi. The Himalayan Times - July 09, 2007.

    EnviTec Biogas's planned initial public offering has roused 'enormous' interest among investors and the shares have been oversubscribed, according to sources. EnviTec has set the IPO price range at €42-52 a share, with the subscription period running until Wednesday. EnviTec last year generated sales of €100.7 million, with earnings before interest and tax of €18.5 million. Forbes - July 09, 2007.

    AthenaWeb, the EU's science media portal, is online with new functionalities and expanded video libraries. Check it out for video summaries of the latest European research activities in the fields of energy, the environment, renewables, biotech and much more. AthenaWeb - July 04, 2007.

    Biopact was invited to attend a European Union high-level meeting on international biofuels trade, to take place on Thursday and Friday in Brussels. Leaders from China, India, Africa and Brazil will discuss the opportunities and challenges arising in the emerging global biofuels sector. EU Commissioners for external relations, trade, energy, development & humanitarian aid as well as the directors of international organisations like the IEA, the FAO and the IFPRI will be present. Civil society and environmental NGOs complete the panorama of participants. Check back for exclusive stories from Friday onwards. Biopact - July 04, 2007.

    China's state-owned grain group COFCO says Beijing has stopped approving new fuel ethanol projects regardless of the raw materials, which has put a brake on its plan to build a sweet potato-based plant in Hebei. The Standard (Hong Kong) - July 03, 2007.

    Blue Diamond Ventures and the University of Texas A&M have formed a biofuels research alliance. The University will assist Blue Diamond with the production and conversion of non-food crops for manufacturing second-generation biofuels. MarketWire - July 03, 2007.

    African Union leaders are to discuss the idea of a single pan-African government, on the second day of their summit in Accra, Ghana. Libya's Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is championing the idea, but many African leaders are wary of the proposal. BBC - July 02, 2007.

    Triple Point Technology, a supplier of cross-industry software platforms for the supply, trading, marketing and movement of commodities, announced today the release and general availability of Commodity XL for Biofuels™. The software platform is engineered to address the rapidly escalating global market for renewable energy fuels and their feedstocks. Business Wire - July 02, 2007.

    Latin America's largest construction and engineering firm, Constructora Norberto Odebrecht SA, announced plans to invest some US$2.6 billion (€1.9 billion) to get into Brazil's booming ethanol business. It aims to reach a crushing capacity of 30 million to 40 million metric tons (33 million to 44 million tons) of cane per harvest over the next eight years. More soon. International Herald Tribune - June 30, 2007.

    QuestAir Technologies announces it has received an order valued at US$2.85 million for an M-3100 system to upgrade biogas created from organic waste to pipeline quality methane. QuestAir's multi-unit M-3100 system was purchased by Phase 3 Developments & Investments, LLC of Ohio, a developer of renewable energy projects in the agricultural sector. The plant is expected to be fully operational in the spring of 2008. Market Wire - June 30, 2007.

    Siemens Energy & Automation, Inc. and the U.S. National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) today announced a partnership to speed the growth of alternative fuel technology. The 10-year agreement between the center and Siemens represents transfers of equipment, software and on-site simulation training. The NCERC facilitates the commercialization of new technologies for producing ethanol more effectively and plays a key role in the Bio-Fuels Industry for Workforce Training to assist in the growing need for qualified personnel to operate and manage bio-fuel refineries across the country. Business Wire - June 29, 2007.

    A paper published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Ceramic Society proposes a new method of producing hydrogen for portable fuel cells that can work steadily for 10-20 times the length of equivalently sized Lithium-ion batteries. Zhen-Yan Deng, lead author, found that modified aluminum powder can be used to react with water to produce hydrogen at room temperature and under normal atmospheric pressure. The result is a cost-efficient method for powering fuel cells that can be used in portable applications and hybrid vehicles. More soon. Blackwell Publishing - June 29, 2007.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

EU biodiesel output doubles in 2 years, may reach 2010 targets early

The European Biodiesel Board (EBB) announces its official figures [*.pdf] for the year 2006, which confirm that the overall biodiesel production the EU increased from 3.2 million tonnes in 2005 to nearly 4.9 tonnes last year. This represents a 54% yearly growth, which follows a 65% record high growth in the previous year 2005. But the EBB also warns that lack of clear standards and legislation may put a dent in this growth. It offers recommendations for much needed interventions. Finally, the board lashes out at the American "B99" export subsidy for biodiesel, which is disrupting EU biodiesel markets. This international trade violation will be disputed before the WTO.

Continued growth
EU biodiesel production has more than doubled in the last two years (from 1.9 million tonnes in 2004), marking a further acceleration in the continuous expansion of the European biodiesel sector. Growth rates in 2002, 2003 and 2004 were 30-35%. Biodiesel now makes up 80% of the EU's total biofuel output. European producers account for 77% of world-wide biodiesel production.

Germany remains by far the largest producer, accounting for more than half of the entire EU's output. France and Italy follow. In the UK, output is still relatively low, but tripled from 2005 to 2006. New entrants include Belgium, the Netherlands and Portugal (table 1, click to enlarge).

Today, in Europe, there are already 185 fully operational biodiesel plants. Over 58 are under construction. In 2007, capacities for biodiesel production reached 10.2 million tonnes (table 2, click to enlarge), setting the foundation for a further strong expansion of the sector, which will be able to meet the 2010 EU targets two years early. Thanks to the plants currently under construction, production capacities are expected to reach even much higher levels, growing by the same rate at least until the end of 2008.

In terms of industrial capacities, the EU biodiesel industry is ready to reach the 2010 EU target and will certainly be ready, well in advance, to fulfil the 10% biofuel targets endorsed by the EU heads of state last March at the Spring Summit (earlier post).

'Legislative desert'
However, the EBB warns that in the EU, biodiesel is still strongly hindered by the lack of appropriate market measures able to create a real market for the biofuel in member states. As a result, the important increase in industrial biodiesel capacity risks to remain very largely underutilized and production may start stagnating if not declining already from this year onwards, unless urgent action is taken. This would be a paradox, taking into account that such industrial capacity has been developed in order to respond to the EU biodiesel targets, which EU authorities recently doubled.

The EBB says this paradox needs to be avoided: the EU cannot on the one hand ask the biodiesel industry to undertake a long walk to reacht very high levels of production in the long run, and on the other hand leave this same industry alone to cross a legislative and standards desert over the next two years.

Urgent legislative and standardisation provisions need to be adopted in many member states and by the CEN in order to create a real market for the biodiesel quantities that will be needed to fulfil the 2010 and 2020 targets. The EBB suggests the following interventions:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

  • Member States legislations and new EU law need to create the real conditions in order to sell biodiesel in the various countries: real conditions means not just only 'theoretical' targets or mandates with no practical impact, as so far occured in Italy, Spain, Poland and many other countries, but efficient legislations enabling the biodiesel capacities already present in these countries to produce and sell the high quality product that they are able to deliver;
  • To this aim, the biodiesel incorporation rate in EN 590 diesel (with no labelling) needs to be increased quickly from the 5% to 10% and then again to a 15% biodiesel in diesel rate by 2015 if we are seriously aiming at a 10% minimum target in all Member States in 2020;
  • In this sense, the EBB urges the CEN to accelerate its work in order to amend the European diesel standard EN590 to include a 10% biodiesel incorporation (the work is lagging behind because of the strong opposition of some vehicle manufacturers) and to start adapting technology and norms to incorporate 15% biodiesel by 2015; if conservatism and inertial logics will continue to prevail in the CEN, this could be achieved by way of legislation introducing once and for all these percentages under the EU definition of diesel fuel (i.e. with no separate labelling), detailed by the fuel quality Directive 98/70 currently under revision.
Diesel deficit, gasoline surplus
At the European level, biodiesel makes up precisely 80% of EU biofuels production (bioethanol output stood at 1.2 million tonnes in 2006) and is very likely to carry on being the biofuel most demanded in order to fill future ambitious EU targets. EU fuel markets are experiencing increasing diesel deficits and gasoline surpluses - we imported 24 million tonnes of diesel from Russia already in 2005 and the same year we exported 19 million tonnes of gasoline to the U.S. In 2006 and 2007 this trend is being amplified by the genereal dieselisation of EU vehicles. Biodiesel and diesel substitutes demand as a "security of supply" demand will be the main driver for future EU fuel distribution markets.

With its strong diesel demand, at the international level, the European Union continues to excel as "biodiesel land": the EU is the worldwide leader in biodiesel production, both in terms of biodiesel capacities and production. In 2006 we produced 77% of biodiesel produced world-wide. In the U.S., the world's second largest biodiesel producer, production amounted to around 250 million gallons (approx. 836,000 tonnes) in 2006.

American export subsidy
The international context is however perturbed by the continuing negative effects of the "B99" U.S. export subsidy, which is disrupting the EU biodiesel market. Through the B99 scheme - which the EBB deems 'unfair' -, American producers can access EU markets with a competitive advantage of roughly €200/m³ when compared to EU manufacturers, and they are able to sell U.S. originated biodiesel at the same or even at a lower price than the cost of the EU's industry's raw materials.

After having alerted EU authorities about urgent action to be taken at WTO level against this scheme, the EBB is now preparing a countervailing duty complaint to be filed against this international trade violation. Mostly due to the negative impact of B99 exports, EU biodiesel production is expected to stagnate in the year 2007, in spite of the 50-60% growth of the last two years and in spite of the fact that EU production capacities have reached more than 10 million tonnes in 2007.

Finally, the EBB notes that it is worth underlining that major EU agricultural organisations have recently officially indicated that the very largest part of future biodiesel demand, even in the perspective of 2020 targets, can be produced from raw materials originated in the EU thanks to the yield potential growth for EU oilseeds. (Biopact and others think this will not be the case and the EU will have to rely on imported feedstocks.)

The European Biodiesel Board, also known as EBB is a non-profit organisation established in 1997. It represents the voice of the EU biodiesel industry by gathering 55 companies and associations. It aims to promote the use of biodiesel in the EU. EBB members represent an 80% share of the EU's biodiesel output.

EBB: 2006, 2007 production and capacity statistics [*.pdf] - July 17, 2007.


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