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    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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Monday, September 24, 2007

GreatPoint Energy closes $100 million capital raise for gasification and CCS technology

GreatPoint Energy, Inc., a developer of catalytic gasification technology to convert coal, petroleum coke and biomass into clean synthetic natural gas while enabling the capture and sequestration of CO2, today announced the financial closing of a $100 million strategic equity round. The round was co-led by Sustainable Development Investments (SDI), a unit of Citi Alternative Investments (a division of Citi) and The Dow Chemical Company, and included the AES Corporation, Suncor Energy, Inc. and several financial firms.

GreatPoint Energy will use the funds to construct and operate a large-scale demonstration facility and soon thereafter will build, own and operate commercial synthetic natural gas manufacturing plants.

The development is important because GreatPoint Energy's technologies can be applied to lignocellulosic biomass to yield carbon-negative energy and fuels (more here). Other renewables like wind or solar are carbon-neutral and prevent greenhouse gas emissions from entering into the atmosphere in the future. Carbon-negative bioenergy however takes emissions from the past out of the atmosphere.

Moreover, GreatPoint Energy is the first comany to follow the logic of decentralised fuel production, dependent on the location of geosequestration sites instead of being tied to power plants (short discussion here); Biopact will discuss the flexibility of this concept as it applies to decentralised bioenergy+CCS technologies, at the upcoming Sparks & Flames Gas Storage & Trading Summit (more here).
We believe that this investment round validates our proprietary gasification process as the most cost-effective means of transforming widely abundant and low cost resources into the cleanest commercial fuel, natural gas, and furthers our position as the most innovative energy technology company in the industry. With natural gas increasingly in short supply and long term gas prices continuing to rise, GreatPoint Energy is well-positioned to competitively produce this clean resource domestically, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution on a scale larger than any other commercial energy option. - Andrew Perlman, President and CEO of GreatPoint Energy
GreatPoint Energy’s catalytic gasification technology converts abundant, low cost carbon feedstocks, such as coal, petroleum coke, and biomass, into pipeline quality natural gas. GreatPoint Energy’s plants combine steam and carbon under pressure and in the presence of its catalysts to make pure methane, known generally as natural gas. Natural gas is the cleanest of all commercial fossil fuels, provides roughly 25 percent of all U.S. energy needs, and consists primarily of hydrogen. Over the past five years, the price of natural gas in America has risen significantly as domestic resources are depleted and the nation becomes increasingly dependent on foreign imports.

As part of its proprietary process, GreatPoint Energy removes and captures the mercury, sulfur, carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the feedstock, to produce a pure stream of methane. GreatPoint Energy’s synthetic natural gas, called 'Bluegas', is as clean as natural gas and can be used directly in place of natural gas for all applications, including power generation, residential and commercial heating, and production of chemicals.

The Bluegas production process (schematic, click to enlarge) consists of a first step in which coal or biomass and the catalyst are fed into the methanation reactor. Inside the reactor, pressurized steam is injected to 'fluidize' the mixture and ensure constant contact between the catalyst and the carbon particles. In this environment, the catalyst facilitates multiple chemical reactions between the carbon and the steam on the surface of the coal or biomass. These reactions generate a mixture of predominately methane and CO2. The process:
  • Produces methane in a single step and in a single reactor into a pipeline grade product without the need for external water gas shift reactors or for external methanation reactors; it produces CO2 as a valuable sequestration-ready byproduct
  • Significantly reduces operating temperature with lower cost reactor components, lower maintenance costs and higher reliability, and eliminates costly high temperature cooling
  • Utilizes steam methanation and thus eliminates costly air separation plant
  • 65% overall efficiency, because of a thermally neutral reaction process without the need for an integrated power plant
GreatPoint Energy plans to construct Bluegas facilities in locations where the carbon dioxide it captures can be locally sequestered, and then transport its Bluegas product by existing natural gas pipelines to natural gas markets across the country:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

GreatPoint Energy’s leading technology can help address climate change in an efficient and affordable way. We are pleased to have co-led this round with Dow and believe that this company represents a positive advance in the utilization of coal by creating a pure and sequestration-ready stream of CO2 for use in applications such as enhanced oil recovery. - R. Andrew de Pass, Head of Citi’s Sustainable Development Investments group
The strategic financing round includes a range of companies that GreatPoint Energy expects to work closely with during the scale-up, development, construction and operation of large scale natural gas manufacturing facilities. In addition to Dow, both the AES Corporation, one of the premier global power companies, and Suncor Energy Inc., a major North American energy producer and marketer and a world leader in synthetic fuel production from oil sands, participated in the round. Their representatives will each assume a position on GreatPoint Energy’s Board of Directors.

According to New Energy Finance, GreatPoint Energy’s capital raise represents the largest Series C financing to date, and one of the largest overall clean tech venture deals ever completed.

Dow is a diversified chemical company that harnesses the power of innovation, science and technology to constantly improve what is essential to human progress.

Sustainable Development Investments (SDI) is a private equity investment unit of Citi Alternative Investments (CAI) focused on renewable energy, alternative energy, clean technologies, water management, waste management, energy efficiency and environmental credits investments.

Biopact: Biopact to chair Sparks & Flames conference panel on carbon-negative biofuels - August 08, 2007

Biopact: Carbon-negative energy gets boost as UNFCCC includes CCS in CDM mechanism - September 19, 2007


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