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    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

Jamaica selects castor beans as biodiesel feedstock

During his recent 'biofuel tour' of Central America, Brazil's President Lula visited Jamaica, where his country's Coimex Group operates an ethanol plant together with Petrojam, the island state's national oil company (previous post). Besides sugarcane for ethanol, Brazil's biofuel experts have also been working with Jamaica to study the use of castor beans (Ricinus communis L.) for biodiesel. Castor oil is the most important feedstock from perennial crops for biodiesel made in Brazil, where it is grown in the arid Northeast by small farmers under the Social Fuel policy.

Speaking at a biofuel conference last week, Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce said Jamaica is now building concrete plans around the crop, to cut oil dependence. Jamaica imports 90 per cent of all its oil products, and high prices are pushing the island's trade balance into the red. Producing biodiesel from castor beans has become an economically attractive alternative. Castor beans have a high oil content and are widely grown by smallholders on the island. The poisonous plant provides a safe opportunity for biodiesel development without the risk of displacing food crops. It requires relatively few inputs and thrives in poor soils.

Karl James, the chairman of Petrojam Ethanol Limited, who also spoke at the biofuel seminar noted that "there are plans for a major commercial plant to be constructed and many persons are now preparing their lands for the castor bean." James did not give specifics but added, "We believe that large areas of rural Jamaica could be quickly transformed into attractive economic zones where independent small land owners are engaged in the production of an agricultural good for which there is a ready market at a price that should provide satisfactory return for their efforts."

As a perennial crop, castor bean has many advantages:
It is well known in Jamaican agriculture. It is not prone to praedial larceny and can be produced on varied scales from large scale farms to cottage industries, involving thousands of small farmers in the rural areas. I would, therefore, propose that we plan to produce castor oil as the agent for mixing with diesel fuel. - Karl James, the chairman of Petrojam Ethanol Limited
Jamaica currently uses 168 million gallons (636 million liters) of diesel fuel and, therefore, will need 5 million gallons (19 million liters) of castor oil for an initial B2 biodiesel project. According to the minister, the reduction of just two per cent of diesel imports will help in the country's balance of payments and increase agricultural output:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

People will see a reduction in noxious emission as diesel consumption is reduced, thus contributing to the improvement of the environment.

Minister Paulwell informed the audience that the country had to change course with regards to the consumption of fuel. "As a nation which is 90 per cent dependent on petroleum energy, Jamaica has been very vulnerable to the alarming cost fluctuations of petroleum energy, particularly in this decade. And, even as we measure the cost implications to the national budget, and the need to conserve, development and lifestyle changes in our young nation are increasing demand, averaging at approximately five per cent per year."

Paulwell added: "In 2006, imported petroleum product to meet national demand was US$1.736 million. With growth in demand and price increases in 2007, this is expected to climb to over US$2.0 billion. Demand by sector is highest for transportation - 41 per cent of imports meet air, sea and land transportation needs. Energy demand for bauxite and alumina production follows with 35 per cent, while power generation requires 19 per cent of the products imported."

James noted that, "We must then set a timetable within which to produce the oil and introduce the mix to the transport industry."

Paulwell explained that the government could not commit to a timetable for implementation of a biofuel policy as, "We have a few things to get out of the way this month, but I will suggest a time frame to Cabinet as the time is now," declared Paulwell. He went further adding that, "Should I retain my current post then I will bring tremendous exuberance to implementing biodiesel technology as part of our energy policy."

Jamaica's efforts in implementing a viable biofuel industry are receiving much technical support and investment from Brazil.

The Minister explained: "In a partnership with Coimex of Brazil, for the production and export of fuelgrade ethanol, manufactured by the Petrojam Ethanol Dehydration Plant, refurbished jointly by Petrojam and Coimex, fuel grade ethanol is being manufactured from Brazilian feedstock." He continued, "As I see it, this collaboration between Jamaica and Brazil must continue, particularly in areas of improving our technical competence, local production of feedstock and more importantly, private sector investment in infrastructure development to ensure a continuous supply of local feedstock. These are critical to our going forward with ethanol."

Brazil's experience with bio fuels has been extremely positive. The country mandates that 25 of its fuel consumption derive from sugar cane produced ethanol.
Brazil also uses pure ethanol in flex-fuel cars, which has reduced by 40 per cent their consumption and importation of fossil fuels. The biofuel industry in Brazil has also created over 4.5 million direct and indirect jobs and has helped to curtail a rural to urban migration shift.

Paulwell told the audience that, "It is essential to reduce our dependency on non-renewable fossil energy and at the same time, we must increase our use of energy from renewable sources."

Jamaica Observer: Jamaica can use castor bean as a biofuel - August 10, 2007.


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