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    The government of the Indian state of Orissa announced its policy for biofuel production which includes a slew of incentives as well as measures to promote the establishment of energy plantations. The state aims to bring 600,000 hectares of barren and fallow land under Jatropha and Karanj. At least 2 million hectares degraded land are available in the State. The new policy's other objectives are to provide a platform for investors and entrepreneurs, market linkages and quality control measures. Newindpress - August 29, 2007.

    Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras said today it expects to reach large scale cellulosic ethanol production in 2015, with the first plant entering operations as early as 2011. Lignocellulosic biomass is the most abundant biological material on the planet, making up the bulk of the structure of wood and plants. In a first phase, Petrobras intends to use bagasse as a feedstock. Reuters / MacauHub- August 29, 2007.

    Seattle based Propel Biofuels, is announcing a $4.75 million first round of capital from @Ventures and Nth Power. The money will be used to help Propel set up and manage biodiesel fueling stations. BusinessWire - August 29, 2007.

    BioEnergy International, a science and technology company committed to developing biorefineries to produce fuels and specialty chemicals from renewable resources, announced today the closing of a major US$61.6 million investment that will provide funding for the Company’s three strategic initiatives: generating secure cash flow from its conventional ethanol platform, product diversification through the introduction of novel biocatalysts for the manufacture of green chemicals and biopolymers and the integration of its cellulose technology. BusinessWire - August 28, 2007.

    German company Verbio Vereinigte BioEnergie, the biggest biofuels producer in Europe, says it is considering plans to invest up to €100/US$136.5 million in a biofuel production facility in Bulgaria. The company wants the new facility to be located close to a port and Bulgaria's city of Varna on the Black Sea is one of the options under consideration. If Verbio goes through with the plan, it would produce both biodiesel and bioethanol, making Bulgaria a major source of biofuels in southeastern Europe. Verbi currently produces around 700,000 tonnes of biofuels per year. Sofia News Agency - August 27, 2007.

    Czech brown-coal-fired power plant Elektrárna Tisová (ETI), a unit of the energy producer ČEZ, could co-fire up to 40,000 tons of biomass this year, the biggest amount in the company’s history, said Martin Sobotka, ČEZ spokesman for West Bohemia. ETI burned more than 19,000 tons of biomass in the first half of 2007. The company’s plan reckoned with biomass consumption of up to 35,000 tons a year. Czech Business Weekly - August 27, 2007.

    PetroSun, Incorporated announced recently that it has formed PetroSun BioFuels Mexico to establish algae-to-biofuel operations in the State of Sonora, Mexico. PetroSun BioFuels Mexico will enter into joint venture agreements to develop algae cultivation farms and extraction plants in Sonora and southern Arizona that will produce algal oil, algae biomass products and excess electricity for the Mexican and U.S. markets. MarketWire - August 27, 2007.

    China's Yunnan Province hopes to reach an annual output of 2 million tons (approx. 417 million gallons) of fuel ethanol by 2010, according to the province's fuel ethanol industry development plan released recently by the Yunnan Economic and Trade Commission, state media report. Interfax China - August 23, 2007.

    Seven companies have teamed up to create Kazakhstan's first Biofuel Association. Its aim is to integrate interested parties for creating favorable conditions to have the country’s biofuel industry developed. An initiator and coordinator of the Association is the National Holding KazAgro, the Agriculture Ministry’s press service informs. KazInform - August 23, 2007.

    Canadian forest products company Tembec today announced that it has completed the acquisition of the assets of Chapleau Cogeneration Limited located in Chapleau, Ontario. The transaction closed on August 15 and includes a biomass fired boiler and steam turbine with an installed capacity of 7.2 megawatts. Consideration for the assets consists of a series of future annual payments to 2022, with a present value of approximately $1 million. Newswire Canada - August 22, 2007.

    Taiwan's representative to Brazil, Chou Shu-yeh, is urging Taiwan's government and private enterprises to invest in Brazil's biomass energy sector. Chou was speaking at a workshop on global investment and trade opportunities in Taipei. RTi - August 22, 2007.

    An algae-to-biofuels startup by the name of Inventure Chemical has raised about $1.5 million to continue its development of a chemical process that turns algae into biodiesel and ethanol. One of the biggest backers of the company is Imperium Renewables, a biodiesel producer. Seattle Post Intelligencer - August 22, 2007.

    The government of India's Karnataka state has approved the blending of six million litres of ethanol with diesel for use as fuel in State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) vehicles. Automotive World - August 21, 2007.

    VeraSun Energy Corporation, one of America's largest ethanol producers, announced that it closed on its acquisition with ASAlliances Biofuels, LLC for three ethanol plants with a combined annual production capacity of approximately 330 million gallons (1.25 billion liters) per year. VeraSun - August 21, 2007.

    Fujitsu develops a biodegradable laptop chassis from corn-starch bioplastic. The material reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 15% compared to a chassis made from petroleum-based plastics. CNET Asia - August 20, 2007.

    India's Rana Sugars Ltd has decided to set up a new plant for producing ethanol in Uttar Pradesh with an estimated investment of €9 to 10.9 (US$12.2 to 14.7). The facility will have a capacity of 180,000 liters per year and will generate, besides ethanol, 26MW of carbon-neutral power from bagasse. Economic Times India - August 20, 2007.

    Prominent pro-democracy activists staged a rare protest in Myanmar's biggest city Sunday, marching against a massive recent fuel price hike. "We are staging this performance to reflect the hardship our people are facing due to the government's fuel price hike," said Min Ko Naing, a leader of the 88 Generation Students' Group. Myanmar's ruling military junta imposed a surprise 100 percent hike on fuel at state-owned gas stations on Wednesday. The move was followed by increases in bus fares and commodity prices. The Star - August 19, 2007.

    Canada's Cavendish Farms, one of the country's largest food processing companies is to build a biogas plant to recycle spent cooking oils, starch and sludge from its waste-water plant to fuel its potato processing operation. Use of the carbon-neutral biofuel will limit the amount of bunker C fuel oil currently in use by the company. The plant, expected to be ready for operation by next fall, has received a $14-million loan from the Province of Prince Edward Island. CBC - August 18, 2007.

    Basin Electric Power Cooperative told a U.S. Senate Energy Appropriations subcommittee that it is looking into capturing carbon dioxide from its Antelope Valley Station and sell it for enhanced oil recovery in the Williston Basin. Carbon capture technologies have not yet been applied to a power plant that uses lignite, or even subbitumious coal. The trial would be the first one to do so in the Midwest. Bismarck Tribune - August 17, 2007.

    The BBC World Service's current 'One Planet' programme focuses on revolutionary technologies and research that uses a next-generation of GM crops as factories for the production of new pharmaceuticals, green products and alternatives to petroleum-based chemicals. One Planet - August 16, 2007.

    Germany's Biogas Nord has been commissioned to construct a large multi-feed biogas plant with a capacity of 2.8 MW of electrical power in Romania. The value of the order is approximately €3.5 million. The plant will be built in the Transylvanian region close to the county town of Oradea. Interestingly, a synergy will be created by coupling the facility to the construction of a biodiesel plant. In so doing, the waste products resulting from the production of biodiesel, such as rapeseed pellets and glycerin, will be brought to the biogas plant as substrates. Ad-Hoc News - August 16, 2007.

    The University of Western Ontario's Research Park at Sarnia has received $10-million in funding for the development of biofuel technologies. The funds will be used for the creation of the 'Ontario Bioindustrial Innovation Centre' at the University, including the addition of a commercialization centre with incubator suites, laboratory equipment, pilot plant space and space for startup companies. The Observer - August 16, 2007.

    Philippine Bio-Sciences Co., Inc. (PhilBio) and its Clean Development Mechanism subsidiary in Cebu, has told the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) that it will soon open a 10 megawatt biogas plant in Cebu. According to the company, under current conditions electricity generated from biogas is around 20% less costly than that generated from fossil fuels. Philippine Bio-Sciences - August 15, 2007.

    Scientists, economists and policy experts representing government and public institutions from more than 40 countries will exchange the latest information on economic and technology opportunities at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "Global Conference on Agricultural Biofuels: Research and Economics", to be held Aug. 20-21 in Minneapolis. USDA ARS - August 14, 2007.

    A company owned by the Chinese government has expressed interest in investing up to 500 million US dollars in a biofuel project in Indonesia. The company is planning to use jatropha as its raw material and is targeting an annual output of around 1 million tons. Forbes - August 13, 2007.

    Virgin Atlantic, Boeing and General Electric are within weeks of selecting the biofuel for a flight demonstration in the UK early next year. The conversion of biomass via the Fischer-Tropsch process is no longer amongst the biofuel candidates, because the process has already been demonstrated to work. Ground testing of the chosen fuel in a development engine at GE is expected to begin in October-November. The limited flight-test programme will involve burning biofuel in one GE CF6-80C2 engine on a Virgin Boeing 747-400. Flight Global - August 13, 2007.

    Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry said Saturday it plans to introduce a new preferential tax system in fiscal 2008 aimed at promoting a wider use of biofuel, which could help curtail greenhouse gas emissions. Under the envisaged plan, biofuel that has been mixed with gasoline will be exempt from the gasoline tax--currently 53.8 yen per liter--in proportion to the amount of biofuel included. If blended with diesel oil, biofuel will be free from the diesel oil delivery tax, currently 32.1 yen per liter. Daily Yomiuri - August 13, 2007.

    Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry said Saturday it plans to introduce a new preferential tax system in fiscal 2008 aimed at promoting a wider use of biofuel, which could help curtail greenhouse gas emissions. Under the envisaged plan, biofuel that has been mixed with gasoline will be exempt from the gasoline tax--currently 53.8 yen per liter--in proportion to the amount of biofuel included. If blended with diesel oil, biofuel will be free from the diesel oil delivery tax, currently 32.1 yen per liter. Daily Yomiuri - August 13, 2007.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Brazilian president proposes to include biofuels in Millennium Development Goals to reduce poverty

Brazil's president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has launched the proposition [*Portuguese] to include a biofuel mandate in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a way to alleviate poverty in Africa. He expressed the idea during the presentation of the latest data which show that Brazil succeeded in reducing extreme poverty in the country by half, surpassing the UN's target. The link between poverty reduction, the MDGs and biofuels is very much present in the leader's global vision on development.

Lula said that when the wealthy countries start utilizing biodiesel and ethanol on a large scale, this should happen with the participation of Africa, where biofuel production is set to bring unprecedented opportunities for development. To do so, a mandate should be included in the UN's Millennium Development Goals - a set of eight ambitious targets aimed at reducing poverty by half by 2015.
Global biofuel production should be included in the framework of the MDGs: all countries should aim for a target of introducing 20 per cent ethanol or biodiesel by 2015 to 2020. [...] Africa's problem is that it has much to offer, but little money to invest. For this reason I am a strong proponent of a biofuel program that links the global transition towards renewables with the opportunity to generate employment and incomes in Africa. - Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil
Earlier this month the Brazilian government participated in a high level meeting with the African Union and the UNIDO to discuss the challenges and opportunities presented by biofuels on the continent. A panel of African scientists there concluded that biofuel development may help reach the MDGs (earlier post). Without access to abundant and modern forms of energy, social and economic development is impossible. Energy economists have therefor called for more attention to energy economics in international development efforts (e.g. A Place for Energy Poverty in the Agenda? [*.pdf] by the IEA's chief economist, Fatih Birol). Likewise, the director-general of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said biofuels offer an historic chance to lift African countries out of poverty, because they offer unprecedented employment opportunities while providing that most necessary of goods: energy. However, changes in the current global trade regime are needed to achieve these benefits (previous post). The Worldwatch Institute for its part recently made the case that biofuels will help cut undernourishment in the poorest countries - a clear Millennium Development Goal.

President Lula hinted at the positive contribution to poverty alleviation of the Pro-Biodiesel program initiated in Brazil in 2003. In 2005, a biodiesel mandate was introduced requiring a 2% blend by 2008 and 5% by 2010. The program is based on the inclusion of the poorest rural households, who produce feedstocks under a 'Social Seal'. This system gives incentives to biofuel producers who source this feedstock (earlier post). Some 65,000 of the poorest farmers and their families are so far benefiting from the program.

The Brazilian president, enjoying his last term, wants to replicate the model in Africa and has launched several South-South initiatives to do so. But the real potential for African countries is to participate in a global market. Africa has all the necessary resources - abundant land, labor in need of income and employment, a huge rural population that needs to diversify its crop portfolios and needs new markets, and suitable agro-climatic conditions for a range of biofuel crops - but it lacks capital. Coupling the wealthy country's needs to Africa's potential would thus present a win-win case. The instrument of the Millennium Development Goals offers a way to ensure that the idea is implemented in a sustainable way that strengthens the goals.

Lula made the suggestion during his presentation of the Third National Report on the MDGs, which showed that the country had succeeded in meeting the goal of reducing extreme poverty by half. The MDGs include a global partnership for development with Brazil for the first time becoming a net donor of development assistance. The country wrote off around US$400 million of Africa's debts:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

According to projections by the Brazilian government, the country will succeed in reaching the other MDGs well before the stated year of 2015. These include eradicating extreme poverty, providing basic education to all, boosting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS and malaria, ensuring environmental sustainability.

Several organisations have called for the inclusion of energy security and access to energy as a goal, because ultimately, access to energy is crucial for reaching the other goals. Not formally included, many international development organisations now do have energy programs, because the socio-economic impacts of rising prices have proved to be disastrous to the poorest countries. Moreover, biofuels and bioenergy offer one of the most feasible ways to ensure that the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is undertaken with the participation of developing countries.


Aquidauana News: Lula quer incluir biocombustível entre as metas do milênio - August 29, 2007.

People's Daily: Brazilian president proposes biofuel usage to help reduce African poverty - August 30, 2007.

Ministério do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate à Fome: Pobreza extrema atinge menor índice e Brasil ultrapassa meta da ONU - August 29, 2007.

UN Millennium Development Goals.

Fatih Birol, "Energy Economics: A Place for Energy Poverty in the Agenda?", The Energy Journal, Vol. 28, No. 3., International Association for Energy Economics, 2007.

Biopact: Report: biofuels key to achieving Millennium Development Goals in Africa - August 02, 2007

Biopact: FAO chief calls for a 'Biopact' between the North and the South -
August 15, 2007

Biopact: An in-depth look at Brazil's "Social Fuel Seal" - March 23, 2007


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