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    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.

    Buenos Aires based ABATEC SA announces the release of a line of small biodiesel plants with modular design, high temperature reaction for the best yield, to produce from 50 to 1000 gal/day (190 to 3785 liter/day) of high quality methylester and valuable glycerol. PRWeb - August 10, 2007.

    Vegetable growers in North Queensland are trying to solve the problem of disposing of polyethylene plastic mulch by using a biodegradable, bioplastic based alternative. Trials are a collaboration of the Queensland Department of Primary Industries with the Bowen District Growers Association. Queensland Country Life - August 8, 2007.

    Hawaii's predominant utility has won approval to build the state's first commercial biofuel plant. It is the first substantial new power generator that Hawaiian Electric Co. has added in 17 years. HECO will build the $142.3 million facility at Campbell Industrial Park on Oahu beginning early next year, and expects to begin commercial operation in mid-2009. It will run exclusively on fuels made from ethanol or biodiesel. Star Bulletin (Honolulu) - August 8, 2007.

    PetroSun Inc. announced today that it conducted its initial algae-to-biofuel program held at Auburn and Opelika, Alabama. The company intends to hold a series of these programs during August and September with biodiesel refiners and firms that are researching the use of algal oil as a potential feedstock for jet fuel production. MarketWire - August 8, 2007.

    To encourage Malaysia's private sector to generate energy from biomass resources, national electricity company Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) has increased the purchase price of electricity produced from palm oil biomass waste to 21 sen per kilowatt hour from 19 sen now. According to Minister of Enegry, Water and Communications, Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik the new price structure, under the Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreement (REPPA), will be implemented immediately. Such projects are eligible for the Clean Development Mechanism. Under the 9th Malaysian Plan, the country's government aims to achieve the installation of 300MW and 50MW of grid-connected electric power from renewable energy sources in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah, respectively. Bernama - August 7, 2007.

    Aspectrics, which develops encoded photometric infrared and near infrared spectroscopy, will be launching a new range of biofuels analyzers designed to meet the demands of scientists and analysts to carry out biodiesel quality control and analyze biodiesel blend percentages in real time. Bioresearch Online - August 7, 2007.

    Irish start-up Eirzyme has secured a €10m investment from Canadian company Micromill System. The new company will produce low-cost enzymes to convert biological materials such as brewers' grains into bioethanol and biogas. RTE - August 6, 2007.

    Imperium Renewables says it has a deal to provide Royal Caribbean Cruises with biodiesel. The Seattle-based biodiesel maker, which is scheduled to inaugurate its Grays Harbor plant this month, will sell the cruise line 15 million gallons of biodiesel in 2007 and 18 million gallons annually for four years after that. The Miami-based cruise line has four vessels that call in Seattle. It is believed to be the single-largest long-term biodiesel sales contract to an end user in the U.S. Seattle Times - August 5, 2007.

    The J. Craig Venter Institute, leading the synthetic biology revolution, is expanding its Bio-Energy Program, seeking a senior scientist to head the new dedicated department. With ongoing research in biohydrogen, cellulosic ethanol, microbial fuel cells, and bacterial nanowires, the Environmental Genomics and Plant Genomics groups within JCVI are working on active components related to bio-energy. NatureJobs - August 5, 2007.

    Polish power and heat firm Praterm has decided to invest 50 to 100 mln zloty (€13.2-26.4 /US$18.1-36.4 mln) by 2013 in biomass production. The company has already bought Bio-Energia, an operator of four biomass heating plants with a total capacity of 14 MW. Wirtualna Polska - August 5, 2007.

    Brazil and Mexico will sign a cooperation agreement to collaborate on the production of ethanol from sugarcane, Gonzalo Mourão of the Brazilian chancellory's Departamento do México, América Central e Caribe said. Brazil's President Lula is on a tour of Central America and is currently in Mexico, after which he will visit Honduras, Nicaragua, Jamaica and Panama. He is set to sign several bilateral agreements on energy and biofuels with these countries. Reuters Brasil - August 4, 2007.

    Evergreen Pulp Inc. announced that it and Diversified Energy Corp. have been selected by the state of California for a $500,000, 36-month renewable energy project that aims to dramatically reduce natural-gas-use residue and natural gas at its Samoa mill. The Public Interest Energy Research Natural Gas Program, a part of the California Energy Commission, awarded four contracts for research, development and demonstration of technologies to replace natural gas with renewable resources, to four applicants from among a pool of 25. The state’s focus for the contracts was for biomass-to-gas and/or hybrid projects specifically addressing industrial and commercial process heating or combined heat and power needs. Eureka Reporter - August 4, 2007.

    Greenline Industries, which designs and builds biodiesel production facilities, and ULEROM, one of Romania's largest agri-business corporations, today announced the formal opening of their largest facility in Vaslui, Romania. The plant will produce some 26.5 million liters (7 mio gallons) per year. The Romanian facility is the 17th example of Greenline's technology featuring waterless wash, computerized, continuous flow and modular construction. PRNewswire - August 1, 2007.

    US Renewables Holdings announced today that it has successfully closed on $475 million of third party capital commitments in its most recent private equity fund, USRG Power & Biofuels Fund II, LP and related vehicles (collectively, "Fund II"), ahead of the fund's original target of $250 million. PRNewswire - August 1, 2007.

    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.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Deforestation rate in Amazon decreased by 25% between 2005 and 2006

In what is seen as a major success for Brazil's president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, new figures show that the deforestation rate in the Amazon has decreased by 25 percent between August 2005 and July 2006, despite high commodity prices and rapidly growing demand for crops like soybeans. The data [*.pdf/Portuguese] released by the Ministry of the Environment show that the deforestation rate has reached the lowest level since at least the year 2000. It is the second consecutive decrease measured since President Lula's new comprehensive policies were enforced, indicating a historic trend reversal.

The reduction could be observed across all territories and administrative divisions: in seven out of the nine tropical rainforest states, in the 'Federal Conservation Units' ('unidades de conservação' - UCs), in the peri-urban zones as well as in the Indigenous Territories.

President Lula welcomed the figures and said the decrease had prevented the release of millions of tonnes of CO2 gas into the atmosphere. The Brazilian government says environmental policies, including measures against illegal logging, have had a clear effect. The president stressed that strong policies make sustainable development more than an empty word:
I'm convinced that it's possible to have growth while preserving the environment. The challenge that we have overcome is knowing how to use the jungle and how to preserve the environment while allowing people's lives to be improved.
"We are gradually going back to the situation of the 1970s", said the minister of the Environment, Marina Silva, referring to a period when the forest suffered little pressures.
Three thematic lines have been essential for achieving this success: a rural and territorial land-use policy, a monitoring and environmental control system and the promotion of sustainable agricultural activities. Brazil is perhaps the only country in the world that is implementing a consistent and comprehensive plan that allows for both the protection and preservation of the rich biodiversity of the Amazon, while at the same time quickly and substantially reducing its contributions to climate change. - Dilma Rousseff, chief of staff of the president
The latest estimate is the result of Brazil's Real Time Deforestation Detection System. The data were announced last friday, in Brasilia, at a press conference attended by the minister of the Environment, Marina Silva, of Agrarian Development, Guillermo Cassel, of Agriculture, Reinhold Stephanes and by Dilma Rousseff, the president's chief of staff.

The results
This is the second fall in the deforestation rate since March 2004, when the Plan for Prevention and Control of Deforestation in Amazônia (PPCDA) was launched by president Lula. This integrated plan combines different technologies (earth monitoring), policies and enforcement instruments. The accounting is a undertaken in an inter-ministerial manner, with 13 ministries cooperating.

Since 2004, the deforestation rate has fallen by 49%. In 2004-2005, the area deforested in the Amazon region was 18,793 square kilometres; fallling back in 2005-2006 to 14,039 square kilometres. Of the nine states that make up the Amazon region, seven have witnessed a reduction against last year (table, click to enlarge):
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Pará was the state that had greatest area deforested in the period and showed the lightest decrease. To be precise, the paraense territory registered a fall of 4,48% of the rate in relation the 2005. In 2006, the total deforested area in Pará was 5,005 square kilometres.

The Mato Grosso witnessed a fall of 39,36%, with the largest reduction in absolute terms: 7,145 square kilometres were registered in 2005 against 4,333 square kilometres in 2006.

The city that registered the biggest growth in the deforestation indices was New Repartimento, in Pará state: the total deforested area grew by 214 square kilometres, in 2005, and by 446 square kilometres in 2006.

On the other hand, the city of São Félix de Xingu, also in Pará - which represented the city with the largest deforested area in 2005, with 1,406 square kilometres and which was the object of intense fiscalization on the part of the Ibama [Environmental Protection Agency] and the Federal Police -, registered the biggest fall in 2006, with only 764 square kilometres deforested.

In the 'Federal Conservation Units' ('unidades de conservação' - UCs), the variation in the fall of the deforestation rate was 56%. In 2005, the total of deforested area was in 689 square kilometres; in 2006, the total deforested area in the UCs was 306 square kilometres.

These data show that the creation of UCs, one of the main politics of the Ministry for the Environment, has been crucial in the fight against deforestation.

In the same way, the evolution of the deforestation rates in the Indigenous Territories showed a decrease, passing from of 441 square kilometres, in 2005, to 190 square kilometres, in 2006. In the nestings, also km² for 2.054 had fall in the deforested area of 4.406 km².

Measuring, monitoring and intervening
The director of the National Institute of Space Research, Gilbert Chamber, presented the two systems currently implemented by the INPE: "the PRODES calculates the consolidated annual rate of deforestation of the Amazônia; DETER gives estimates on large deforested tracts areas of the Amazônia with the biggest possible rapidity".

On the ground the Brazilian government stepped up its interventions in the Amazon region by means of command and control actions to combat the illegal trade in tropical timber as well as by implementing fiscal policies. The Federal Police carried out 20 large operations, 14 of which occured in the Amazon region; the IBAMA ('Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis', the enforcement arm of the Ministry of the Environment) carried out 446 operations of integrated fiscalization, which have become routine by now.

About 600 people have been arrested, 115 of them because of the work of the IBAMA. In total around 1 million of cubic meters of wood have been confiscated - an amount that would occupy 40,000 fully loaded trucks and that would form an uninterrupted chain of trucks from Rio De Janeiro to São Paulo, or 480 kilometres.

Moreover, 3.3 billion reais (€1.246/US$1.695 billion) in fines have been handed out.

Agricultural land enforcement actions allowed the creation of 20 million hectares of protected areas - which corresponds to four times the size of the state of Rio De Janeiro - and the homologation of about 10 million hectares of indigenous lands was carried out.

"All this indicates that, with planning and integrated efforts, it is possible, indeed, to change the picture", summarized Marina silva. She concluded : "We want to share this victory with all the Brazilian people".

Ministério do Meio Ambiente: Taxa de desmatamento na Amazônia cai 25% - August 10, 2007

Grupo Permanente de Trabalho Interministerial sobre Desmatamento na Amazônia Decreto de 3 de julho de 2003: Resultados PRODES ago/05 a jul/06, Projeção DETER ago/06 a jul/07 [*.pdf].

Biopact: Brazil demonstrating that reducing tropical deforestation is possible while expanding biofuels - May 16, 2007


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