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    A group of Spanish investors is building a new bioethanol plant in the western region of Extremadura that should be producing fuel from maize in 2009. Alcoholes Biocarburantes de Extremadura (Albiex) has already started work on the site near Badajoz and expects to spend €42/$59 million on the plant in the next two years. It will produce 110 million litres a year of bioethanol and 87 million kg of grain byproduct that can be used for animal feed. Europapress - September 28, 2007.

    Portuguese fuel company Prio SA and UK based FCL Biofuels have joined forces to launch the Portuguese consumer biodiesel brand, PrioBio, in the UK. PrioBio is scheduled to be available in the UK from 1st November. By the end of this year (2007), says FCL Biofuel, the partnership’s two biodiesel refineries will have a total capacity of 200,000 tonnes which will is set to grow to 400,000 tonnes by the end of 2010. Biofuel Review - September 27, 2007.

    According to Tarja Halonen, the Finnish president, one third of the value of all of Finland's exports consists of environmentally friendly technologies. Finland has invested in climate and energy technologies, particularly in combined heat and power production from biomass, bioenergy and wind power, the president said at the UN secretary-general's high-level event on climate change. Newroom Finland - September 25, 2007.

    Spanish engineering and energy company Abengoa says it had suspended bioethanol production at the biggest of its three Spanish plants because it was unprofitable. It cited high grain prices and uncertainty about the national market for ethanol. Earlier this year, the plant, located in Salamanca, ceased production for similar reasons. To Biopact this is yet another indication that biofuel production in the EU/US does not make sense and must be relocated to the Global South, where the biofuel can be produced competitively and sustainably, without relying on food crops. Reuters - September 24, 2007.

    The Midlands Consortium, comprised of the universities of Birmingham, Loughborough and Nottingham, is chosen to host Britain's new Energy Technologies Institute, a £1 billion national organisation which will aim to develop cleaner energies. University of Nottingham - September 21, 2007.

    The EGGER group, one of the leading European manufacturers of chipboard, MDF and OSB boards has begun work on installing a 50MW biomass boiler for its production site in Rion. The new furnace will recycle 60,000 tonnes of offcuts to be used in the new combined heat and power (CHP) station as an ecological fuel. The facility will reduce consumption of natural gas by 75%. IHB Network - September 21, 2007.

    Analysts fear that record oil prices will fuel general inflation in Kenya, particularly hitting the poorest hard. They call for the development of new policies and strategies to cope with sustained high oil prices. Such policies include alternative fuels like biofuels, conservation measures, and more investments in oil and gas exploration. The poor in Kenya are hit hardest by the sharp increase, because they spend most of their budget on fuel and transport. Furthermore, in oil intensive economies like Kenya, high oil prices push up prices for food and most other basic goods. All Africa - September 20, 2007.

    Finland's Metso Power has won an order to supply Kalmar Energi Värme AB with a biomass-fired power boiler for the company’s new combined heat and power plant in Kalmar on the east coast of Sweden. Start-up for the plant is scheduled for the end of 2009. The value of the order is approximately EUR 55 million. The power boiler (90 MWth) will utilize bubbling fluidized bed technology and will burn biomass replacing old district heating boilers and reducing the consumption of oil. The delivery will also include a flue gas condensing system to increase plant's district heat production. Metso Corporation - September 19, 2007.

    Jo-Carroll Energy announced today its plan to build an 80 megawatt, biomass-fueled, renewable energy center in Illinois. The US$ 140 million plant will be fueled by various types of renewable biomass, such as clean waste wood, corn stover and switchgrass. Jo-Carroll Energy - September 18, 2007.

    Beihai Gofar Marine Biological Industry Co Ltd, in China's southern region of Guangxi, plans to build a 100,000 tonne-per-year fuel ethanol plant using cassava as feedstock. The Shanghai-listed company plans to raise about 560 million yuan ($74.5 million) in a share placement to finance the project and boost its cash flow. Reuters - September 18, 2007.

    The oil-dependent island state of Fiji has requested US company Avalor Capital, LLC, to invest in biodiesel and ethanol. The Fiji government has urged the company to move its $250million 'Fiji Biofuels Project' forward at the earliest possible date. Fiji Live - September 18, 2007.

    The Bowen Group, one of Ireland's biggest construction groups has announced a strategic move into the biomass energy sector. It is planning a €25 million investment over the next five years to fund up to 100 projects that will create electricity from biomass. Its ambition is to install up to 135 megawatts of biomass-fuelled heat from local forestry sources, which is equal to 50 million litres or about €25m worth of imported oil. Irish Examiner - September 16, 2007.

    According to Dr Niphon Poapongsakorn, dean of Economics at Thammasat University in Thailand, cassava-based ethanol is competitive when oil is above $40 per barrel. Thailand is the world's largest producer and exporter of cassava for industrial use. Bangkok Post - September 14, 2007.

    German biogas and biodiesel developer BKN BioKraftstoff Nord AG has generated gross proceeds totaling €5.5 million as part of its capital increase from authorized capital. Ad Hoc News - September 13, 2007.

    NewGen Technologies, Inc. announced that it and Titan Global Holdings, Inc. completed a definitive Biofuels Supply Agreement which will become effective upon Titan’s acquisition of Appalachian Oil Company. Given APPCO’s current distribution of over 225 million gallons of fuel products per year, the initial expected ethanol supply to APPCO should exceed 1 million gallons a month. Charlotte dBusinessNews - September 13, 2007.

    Oil prices reach record highs as the U.S. Energy Information Agency releases a report that showed crude oil inventories fell by more than seven million barrels last week. The rise comes despite a decision by the international oil cartel, OPEC, to raise its output quota by 500,000 barrels. Reuters - September 12, 2007.

    OPEC decided today to increase the volume of crude supplied to the market by Member Countries (excluding Angola and Iraq) by 500,000 b/d, effective 1 November 2007. The decision comes after oil reached near record-highs and after Saudi Aramco announced that last year's crude oil production declined by 1.7 percent, while exports declined by 3.1 percent. OPEC - September 11, 2007.

    GreenField Ethanol and Monsanto Canada launch the 'Gro-ethanol' program which invites Ontario's farmers to grow corn seed containing Monsanto traits, specifically for the ethanol market. The corn hybrids eligible for the program include Monsanto traits that produce higher yielding corn for ethanol production. MarketWire - September 11, 2007.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Finland starts trials of Neste Oil's second-generation NExBTL biodiesel in buses

Next-generation biofuels are here. The first buses running on ultra-clean second-generation biodiesel were introduced in Helsinki's public transportation this morning. The vehicles utilize fuels produced via state-owned Neste Oil's proprietary NExBTL (Next Generation Biomass-to-Liquids) process. Finland ambitiously aims to replace 30% of petroleum fuels with such next-generation biofuels by 2020, more than the EU requires (previous post). Interestingly, Neste Oil has recently announced that it is looking into sourcing feedstocks for its second-generation biofuel from the developing world, where they can be produced in a sustainable and competitive way, while potentially offering chances for rural development (here).

NExBTL is a biodiesel production process that differs from classic transesterification but also from second generation biomass-to-liquids processes used to obtain synthetic biodiesel (which is based on the gasification of biomass, with the gas being liquefied via the Fischer-Tropsch process). NExBTL instead consists of hydrogenating fatty acids under high-pressure, using hydrogen produced at the oil refinery (schematic, click to enlarge). The process can use multiple vegetable oil feedstocks and results in a product with characteristics similar to ultra-clean synthetic biofuels.

Several companies are developing the same process. In Brazil, Petrobras is investing in 'H-Bio', in Portugal Galp Energia is doing the same, whereas UOP, a Honeywell company, is developing the fuel which it dubs 'green diesel' (earlier post, and references there).

First tests with the NExBTL fuel shows efficiency remains high, while NOx emissions are down almost 20% and particulates close to 30% compared to standard diesel. In addition, the fuel reduces fossil CO2 emissions by up to 80% (earlier post). Neste Oil recently started construction on its €100/US$134 million NExBTL plant, the first large-scale second-generation biodiesel facility in the world, capable of producing 170,000 tonnes per year (more here).

The bus trials are part of a larger test program. Six buses are on the road today, but in the coming weeks this figure will increase to around 60. In all, there are around 1,400 buses operating within the Greater Helsinki area's public transportation system. The aim is to have every second bus operating in the Greater Helsinki Area running on biofuel by the year 2010.

Two capital area bus contractors, Pohjolan Liikenne and Veolia Transport, are taking part in the first phase of the experiment. From the beginning of 2008 they will be joined by Helsingin Bussiliikenne, the capital area’s principal bus operator owned by the City of Helsinki:
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The idea behind the experiment is to reduce the capital area’s emission levels from public transportation. The nitrogen oxide and particle emissions of biodiesel are lower than those of regular diesel.

The experiment will not yet have an impact on the air quality, but in 2010 it certainly will, confirms Reijo Mäkinen, head of public transportation services at the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council (YTV).

Switching to biodiesel does not require any alterations to buses. The outlay of the experiment is around €100,000 per year, and it will be split evenly between Helsinki City Transport (HKL) and YTV. Neste Oil’s investment in the experiment is slightly higher. For the bus and coach contractors, there are no expenses from taking part in the pilot project.

: Helsinki Deputy Mayor Pekka Sauri fills up a Pohjolan Liikenne bus with NExBTL biodiesel under the watchful eye of Henrik Lindgren. Credit: Roope Salonen.

Helsingin Sanomat: Biofuel buses introduced in Helsinki public transport - September 28, 2007.

Neste Oil: NExBTL Renewable Synthetic Diesel, presentation [*.pdf].

Biopact: Scania tests show bio-based synthetic diesel sharply cuts Emissions - June 05, 2007

Biopact: Finland's Trade & Industry minister wants 30% biofuels by 2020 - June 01, 2007

Biopact: Finnish oil major is considering jatropha oil for next-generation biodiesel - April 19, 2007

Biopact: Eni to produce green diesel from vegetable oils based on UOP's hydrogenation technology - June 20, 2007


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