<body> --------------
Contact Us       Consulting       Projects       Our Goals       About Us
home » Archive »
Nature Blog Network

    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.

Creative Commons License

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

NY Times finally understands the need for a 'Biopact'

At last, a mainstream publication has begun to understand the logic behind the Biopact. Writing for the New York Times, Jerry Garrett says what we have been saying all along: why should the US and the EU heavily subsidize and protect their own inefficient biofuels that are too costly to be competitive, that do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that rely on food crops, while down South there are huge countries in need for development with an abundance of resources making it possible to produce highly efficient biofuels that substantially recude emissions, that don't rely on food crops, that are competitive with oil (very much so at current prices) and that may bring jobs and rural development to the poorest?

At last. We replicate and augment the piece here in full, because it is quite significant to see a major opinion maker supporting our case:

Here’s an interesting bit of scientific research, writes Garrett, courtesy of a recent report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a Paris-based global economic think tank [note, the report was not by the OECD, but that's a detail], on the difference in greenhouse gas emissions from cars burning gasoline-only fuel and fuels made from various forms of ethanol:
  • Corn ethanol: 0-3 percent greenhouse gas emission reduction.
  • Sugar cane ethanol: 50-70 percent reduction.
  • Cellulosic ethanol: 90-plus percent.
But wait, there’s more:

Which form of ethanol production is the United States government (and its taxpayers) subsidizing? Corn, of course.

Which form of ethanol production does the United States government levy a 53-cents-a-gallon import tariff on? Sugar cane, naturally.

And which form of ethanol production is under-funded, under-researched, and furthest from commercial production? The cleanest choice, obviously.

Do you see a pattern here?

Corn ethanol is also the culprit that raises costs of corn-based food crops, because food production is being diverted to ethanol production. Corn ethanol production also affects the price of other food crops such as wheat, barley and soybeans because it is economically more attractive for farmers to switch from those crops to subsidized corn-raising. Corn ethanol is also only marginally less costly (some critics think it may even cost more) to manufacture than a gallon of gasoline.

The cheapest, easiest to obtain and most readily available form of ethanol available is sugar cane ethanol from Brazil. In fact, Stratfor, a strategic planning newsletter, pointed out that Brazil “has developed a fuel that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and comes from a place that is politically stable and friendly to both the European Union and United States.” And Brazil has a surplus of it, ready to export (more here):
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Why not do something right now to alleviate our fossil fuel energy addiction? Or should we wait until, say, 2022 when domestic ethanol production is projected to be ramped up, as a Bush administration target suggests? Until 2022, should we continue to meet our nation’s energy needs via our many friends in the Middle East? (This is working so well for us, so far.)

Elsewhere in the OECD’s scathing indictment of the corn ethanol industry, it called for an end to government subsidies to those growing corn for ethanol. It suggested the European Union act immediately to end “set-asides,” wherein part of the available farm land is left fallow for a year or two, to let the soil rest, and to keep grain prices artificially high by keeping it in shorter supply. The set-asides make especially little sense this year, in view of a widespread drought, lower yield grain harvests, and a significant diversion of acreage planted for corn-as-food to ethanol production instead. The OECD said import tariffs on fuels, such as sugar cane ethanol, ought to be removed.

The report also suggested a ban on using food crops for ethanol production.

Ethanol isn’t fussy; it can be made any number of ways. And should meaningful cellulosic ethanol production ever get off the ground, it could easily be made from inedible crops like switchgrass or even garbage.

So why is America, in particular, insisting on making ethanol from the worst possible choice? It seems that our government’s only true interest in ethanol production lies in placating its agricultural lobby, which in turn is seeking to cash in on forced legislative mandates for domestic ethanol production.


New York Times: Corn Ethanol: Biofuel or Biofraud? - September 24, 2007.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home