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    Malaysian palm oil company Kim Loong Resources Bhd has secured European energy trading group Vitol as buyer for all its carbon credits from its planned biogas plant in Kota Tinggi. The biogas facility generates methane from palm oil mill effluent, a waste product. The project is expected to generate over RM2 million (€423,000/US$579,000) of earnings annually. The methane capture and power generation project was registered and approved by the Clean Development Mechanism. The Edge Daily - July 31, 2007.

    GreenHunter Energy, Inc. announces that its wholly-owned subsidiary, GreenHunter BioFuels, Inc., located in Houston, Texas has successfully acquired Air Emission Permits from TCEQ (Texas Commission of Environmental Quality) under TCEQ's Permit by Rule (PBR) programs. These permits open the way for construction of a 105 million gallon per year (mgy) biodiesel facility including a separate but related methanol distillation facility. PRNewswire - July 30, 2007.

    Together with Chemical & Engineering News' Stephen K. Ritter, the journal Environmental Science & Technology sent Erika D. Engelhaupt to Brazil from where she wrote daily dispatches of news and observations about biofuels research. In particular she focuses on a bioenerrgy research partnership between the American Chemical Society, the Brazilian Chemical Society, and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA). Check out her blog. Dipatches from Brazil - July 28, 2007.

    Consultation is under way on a £50 million (€74/US$101million) renewable energy plant planned for the South Wales Valleys. Anglo-Dutch company Express Power plans to build a wood-fuelled biomass plant on Rassau Industrial Estate in Blaenau Gwent. The plant will generate an annual 160,000 MWh (Mega Watt hours) of green electricity for Wales from forestry, recycled wood and wood derivatives. ICWales - July 27, 2007.

    The price of New York crude leapt to 77.24 dollar a barrel on Thursday, marking the highest level since August 9, 2006, as keen global demand and tight supplies fuelled speculative buying, traders said. On Wednesday, the US government had revealed that inventories of American crude fell by 1.1 million barrels last week. France24 - July 26, 2007.

    Arriva, one of Europe's largest transport groups is trialling B20 biodiesel for the first time on 75 of its buses. The company is aiming to reduce total carbon emissions by around 14 per cent by using biodiesel as a 20 per cent blend (predominantly be a mixture of sustainable soya products, along with used cooking oil and tallow). The 75 buses in the innovative trial will carry around 130,000 passengers every week. Minimal engineering changes will be required to the fleet as part of the scheme. Arriva - July 26, 2007.

    Marathon Oil Corporation announces that it has completed two more projects adding biodiesel blended fuel at its Robinson and Champaign terminals in Illinois. The terminals now feature in-line ratio blending in order to provide soy-based B-2 (two percent biodiesel) and B-11 (eleven percent biodiesel). Marathon Oil - July 25, 2007.

    Norway-based renewable energy firm Global Green One has agreed to set up a € 101.6 million bioethanol plant in Békéscsaba (southeast Hungary), with more facilities planned for Kalocsa, Szombathely and Kõszeg, the latter of which was already a target for a €25 million plant in May this year. The Békéscsaba plant would process 200,000 tonnes of maize per year, employing around 100 people. The logistics part of the facility would also create 100 jobs. The company expects the factory to generate €65 million in revenues each year. Portfolio - July 25, 2007.

    A Canadian firm, Buchanan Renewable Energies, is to begin an investment into Liberia's biomass industry that will grow to US$20 million in October and offer 300 jobs by end of the year. The company will start shipping 90 major pieces of equipment to Liberia by the end of August. Daily Observer (Monrovia) - July 24, 2007.

    KNM Process Systems Sdn Bhd, has secured a RM122 million (€26/$36m) order to build a biodiesel plant in Pahang, Malaysia, for Mission Biofuels Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Australian biofuels company Mission Biofuels Ltd. The plant will have a biodiesel output of 750 tonnes per day and glycerine output of 82 tonnes per day. Malaysia Business Times - July 24, 2007.

    AlgoDyne Ethanol Energy Inc. confirms that its retail partner, Canadian Green Fuels, has entered into an agreement with Cansource BioFuels to open a new biodiesel production facility in Mayerthorpe Alberta. The deal will see the construction and development of a community based, integrated crushing and biodiesel facility to process 10 million litres of ASTM certified canola based biodiesel which will be scaled up to produce 40million litres by 2010. BusinessWire - July 23, 2007.

    The Center for Management Technology announces the second Biomass-to-Liquids Technology conference will take place in Vienna this year, from 12 to 13 September. The current state of BTL-technologies will be presented and discussed. Biomass-to-Liquids conversion pathways are seen by many as promising avenues into the world of second generation biofuels that relies on the use of a broad variety of possible biomass feedstocks. CMT - July 23, 2007.

    Gulf Ethanol Corporation, a Houston-based energy company, announced today that it has initiated negotiations with representatives of government and industry in Uruguay. Discussions, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Commerce, centered on the synergy between Gulf Ethanol's interest in exploiting the potential of sorghum as a non-food fuel stock for ethanol production and the ideal conditions for growing the crop in Uruguay. The company criticizes the use of food crops like corn for ethanol in the U.S. and is seeking alternatives. Yahoo Press Release - July 20, 2007.

    Dutch company Capella Capital N.V. announces its investment in BiogasPark N.V. and acquires a 20 % stake upon the foundation of the company. The remaining shares are held by the management and strategic investors. BiogasPark N.V. will invest in the field of renewable energy and primarily focuses on financing, purchasing and the maintenance of biogas plant facilities. Ad Hoc News - July 20, 2007.

    Bioenergy company Mascoma Corp. is to build the world's first commercial scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Michigan where it will collaborate with Michigan State University. The $100 million plant will rely on the biochemical, enzymatic process that breaks down biomass to convert it to sugars. One of the factors that attracted Mascoma to Michigan was the recent $50 million federal grant MSU received to study biofuels in June. MSU will help in areas such as pretreatment technology for cellulosic ethanol production and energy crops that can be utilized by the plant. The State News - July 20, 2007.

    PetroChina, one of China's biggest oil companies, aims to invest RMB 300 million (€28.7/US$39.6m) in biofuel production development plans. A special fund is also going to be jointly set up by PetroChina and the Ministry of Forestry to reduce carbon emissions. Two thirds of the total investment will be channeled into forestry and biofuel projects in the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Hebei, the remainder goes to creating a China Green Carbon Foundation, jointly managed by PetroChina and the State Forestry Administration. China Knowledge - July 19, 2007.

    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.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

EU project: long-distance hydrogen transport and trade feasible

Is it economically viable and sustainable to produce hydrogen outside the EU from clean and renewable sources (biomass, wind, solar, hydro, geothermal), and then import it over very long distances to consumers in the Union? The answer is yes, according to ENCOURAGED, an EU-funded project, which released its summary report.

Funded under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), the ENCOURAGED project ('Energy Corridors Optimisation for the European Markets of Gas, Electricity and Hydrogen') analyses the technical, commercial and geopolitical complexities of long-distance trade and imports of natural gas, electricity and hydrogen. The project assessed the optimisation of future 'energy corridors' between the EU and neighbouring countries.

Extending the benefits of the Internal Market is part of actions of the EU to integrate the energy markets of surrounding countries. These current and future neighbouring countries will play a vital role in the development of the EU, as they are the main suppliers and transit countries for oil and natural gas. That role will grow significantly will be extended in the next decades with electricity trade and later possibly with hydrogen supply from neighbouring countries. The goals of ENCOURAGED were:
  • To assess the economic optimal energy interconnections and network infrastructure for electricity, gas and hydrogen of EU with and through neighbouring regions (North Africa, Middle East and Turkey, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and Iceland) connecting EU with key producers in next decades.
  • To identify, quantify and evaluate the barriers and potential benefits of a large European “energy connected area”.
  • Propose necessary policy measures to implement the recommended energy corridors with a focus on investment and the geopolitical framework.
  • To recommend the necessary measures to be adopted to ensure, realize and implement these energy corridors and realise a high-level of network security and organise workshops and a final stakeholders conference to assure consensus among scientists and other stakeholders to validate the results.
The ENCOURAGED project now published its summary report titled Energy corridors: European Union and Neighbouring countries [*.pdf]. We focus on the findings concerning long-distance hydrogen trade.

Hydrogen trade feasible
Concerns over energy supply security, climate change, local air pollution, and increasing price of energy services have a growing impact on policy decisions throughout the world. Increasingly, hydrogen is seen as offering a range of benefits with respect of being a clean energy carrier, if produced by clean, safe and renewable primary energy sources, such as biomass, wind, solar, geothermal or hydro. But since EU domestic energy resources are limited the question can be raised whether it is an economic efficient as well as sustainable option to produce hydrogen outside the EU and import it over very long distances to consumers inside the EU.

To answer that question first potential hydrogen demand in the EU in the very long term was projected. Next the potential cheapest hydrogen production centres were identified including the costs of producing the hydrogen there. These 12 centers outside Europe were Morocco, Algeria, Iceland, Norway, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and the Ukraine, where the clean gas can be made from renewables (map, click to enlarge). As a next step the total costs of selected hydrogen pathways are compared (graph, click to enlarge).

The project's study found that together the production centres could meet Europe's total projected hydrogen needs of the lowest hydrogen penetration scenario (400 terawatt-hour by 2040) and half of the highest scenario (over 1,000 Twh). North Africa has the largest technical potential (wind and solar) but production costs would be very high, followed by Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania (biomass) with a big potential and low costs, but where biomass may find more attractive, competing uses (combustion, methanation, liquid fuels). Norway, drawing on hydropower, has the third largest technical potential:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

In summary and on the basis of the analysis of the potentials and the economic feasibility of different hydrogen corridor options with sources in the neighbouring countries, including a cost comparison with domestic hydrogen production in the EU25 (as benchmark), the following conclusions can be drawn:
  • Hydrogen import supply routes are particularly attractive in the very long term, if based on renewable energy sources and can significantly contribute to the EU policy goals of securing energy supply and reducing greenhouse gas emissions if sustainability is the key objective.
  • Importing renewable hydrogen could start first with some selected corridors after the introduction of hydrogen as a transport fuel, expected from 2015 onwards. Sources for this first phase could be found in Norway and Iceland.
  • When a significant level of hydrogen demand (as a transport fuel) is reached. i. e. more than 10 % hydrogen vehicles in the total vehicle stock around 2030/2040, a wide supply portfolio is possible.
  • Even when renewable feedstock is used, the supply cost (without tax) of many pathways is within a range of double the current cost of gasoline and hence only economically viable under similar terms as presently applied to bio-fuels.
  • Due to the relevant influence of transport costs on the economics of hydrogen corridors, it is important to consider only large-scale production sources in order to exploit economies of scales to lower the relative high specific costs today.
  • Of all corridor options analysed, hydrogen from hydro or geothermal power from Iceland offers the cheapest hydrogen and the lowest barriers with respect to competing with alternative use of it. This is followed by hydrogen from hydropower in Norway and Romania. The following corridors are promising but have certain limitations, e.g. hydrogen from wind power and solar radiation in North Africa (high potential, but also relative high cost) and hydrogen based on biomass from Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey - comparatively cheap, but biomass meets various alternative and very competing applications.
It should be noted that many uncertainties are surrounding the main conclusions regarding economic, feasibility and assumptions underlying the recommendable corridors for the three types of energy carriers. Nevertheless the authors think that the suggested energy corridors with neighbouring countries are robust options to be further investigated in more detail.

To lower costs, the ENCOURAGED study recommends considering only large-scale solutions in order to exploit economies of scale. Of all the hydrogen corridors analysed, hydrogen or geothermal power from Iceland offers the cheapest hydrogen and the lowest barriers with respect to competing alternative use of it. This is followed by hydrogen from hydropower in Norway and Romania, and hydrogen from biomass in Turkey:

Hydrogen could therefore be imported first from these selected corridors and used as a transport fuel. Once the demand for hydrogen (more than 10% of vehicles running on hydrogen by 2030) increases, then a wider portfolio may be considered, says the study. It concludes by underlining the need for further research on these hydrogen corridors to weigh up the pros and cons of them.

ENCOURAGED project: Energy Corridors Optimisation for the European Markets of Gas, Electricity and Hydrogen, homepage.

European Commission, Directorate-General for Research, Directorate Energy: Energy corridors: European Union and Neighbouring countries [*.pdf], Sustainable Energy Systems - July 2007.


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