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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

RWE Power, BASF and Linde to cooperate on CO2 capture technology

RWE Power, BASF and The Linde Group today agreed to develop new processes for CO2 capture from combustion gases in coal-fired power plants. The co-operation will comprise the construction and operation of a pilot facility at the lignite-fired power plant of RWE Power AG in Niederaussem to test new developments and solvents from BASF for the capture of CO2 - so-called CO2 scrubbing. Linde will be responsible for the engineering and the construction of the pilot facility.

The development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies - which promise to reduce carbon emissions from coal plants by up to 90% - is important to the bioenergy community in that they can be applied to biomass fuels, thus opening the prospect of radically carbon-negative energy production. Such 'bio-energy with carbon storage' (BECS) systems are seen as the most realistic energy systems to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a global and drastic scale (earlier post and here). Scientists have studied the concept in the context of 'abrupt climate change' scenarios, and found the technology - if implemented worldwide which would require the establishment of vast energy plantations - can be seen as the most cost-effective, safe and viable 'geo-engineering' option (more here).

BECS-systems take historic CO2 emissions out of the atmosphere; if implemented globally, they could take us back to pre-industrial CO2 levels by mid-century. Only biomass combined with CCS can yield carbon-negative energy and fuels; all other renewables are carbon-neutral at best and merely prevent new emissions. BECS systems clean up our past.

The fossil fuels industry will develop CCS technologies first because it has the money and means to do so, after which they should be applied to biofuels as soon as possible.

Pilot plant
The purpose of the pilot facility to be run by RWE Power is the long-term testing of new solvents with a view to gaining an understanding of processes and plant engineering to improve CO2 capture technology. The goal is to apply CO2 capture commercially in lignite-fired power plants by 2020. The new technology should enable to removal of more than 90 per cent of CO2 from the combustion gas of a power plant and then subsequently to store this gas underground.

Once pilot tests have been completed successfully, the companies will decide on a subsequent demonstration plant in 2010. This will be designed to provide a reliable basis for the commercialisation of the new process. RWE Power has earmarked a budget of approximately €80 million for the development project, including the construction and operation of the pilot facility and demonstration plant.

RWE Power, Germany's largest energy company, is designing all its new coal-fired power plants so that they can eventually be equipped with the CO2 capture technology that is currently being developed with BASF and Linde. The aim is to set up not only highly modern plants from 2020 onwards, but also virtually carbon-neutral coal-fired power plants including storage.

Apart from the so-called CO2-scrubbing method, RWE Power is also developing the first carbon-neutral coal-fired power plant with CO2 transport and storage, based on the integrated gasification combined-cycle process (IGCC). This large-scale 450-MW plant is due to come on stream in 2014, although no decision has yet been taken as to where it should be located. With a view to climate protection, RWE Power has also decided to expand renewable energies throughout Europe, with the focus on generating electric power from water, wind and biomass.

CASTOR: European carbon capture project
RWE and BASF have been involved in the CASTOR project since early 2004, a research project that is sponsored by the European Union (EU) and which seeks to find methods to remove CO2 from combustion gases and to store it:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The project is also supported by a number of prestigious European universities, research institutions, public authorities and industrial enterprises, including several renowned power plant operators, oil and gas companies and plant manufacturers.
We are accepting the challenges of climate protection and want to be proactive in pushing all the available options for the reduction and avoidance of CO2. We are confident that, together with our partners, we will soon be developing the process of CO2 capture to commercial maturity so that this technology can be deployed in new and existing modern coal-fired power plants in the future. - Dr. Johannes Lambertz, Board member of RWE Power with responsibility for fossil- fuelled power plants
According to Lambertz there is agreement among experts that coal will continue to be an important pillar in the global energy supply for decades to come. This is why the companies have set up a long-range CO2 avoidance strategy: building the most efficient coal-fired power plants in the world, and developing a new generation of power plants for tomorrow, with an efficiency of over 50 per cent.

RWE Power is the largest German electricity producer responsible for the Group's generation of electric power in Germany as well as in Central/Eastern Europe. RWE Power uses a wide range of energy sources: lignite from open-cast mines in the Rhineland and nuclear energy for the base load, as well as hard coal, gas and renewable energies such as water, wind and biomass for medium and peak loads. RWE Power and its subsidiaries employ a workforce of over 17,000, both in Germany and abroad.
BASF conducts worldwide research on products to conserve resources and energy. By entering into this collaboration with RWE Power and Linde, we are contributing our wide-ranging expertise in CO2 capture technology. Our research is seeking to find a suitable solvent for the efficient capture of CO2. - Dr. Stefan Marcinowski, research representative and Board member of BASF.
BASF is the world's leading chemical company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics, performance products, agricultural products and fine chemicals to crude oil and natural gas. As a reliable partner to virtually all industries, BASF's high-value products and intelligent system solutions help its customers to be more successful. BASF develops new technologies and uses them to meet the challenges of the future and open up additional market opportunities.
This promising co-operation of three responsible major companies can provide an important impetus to climate protection. It is the aim of the Linde Group to help reduce emissions wherever possible. Our activities include continuous efficiency improvements of our plant designs for the benefit of our customers, CO2 capture methods as well as expedient recycling systems and the production of environmentally friendly alternative fuels. - Dr. Aldo Belloni, member of the Executive Board of Linde AG.
The Linde Group is a leading gases and engineering company with around 49,000 employees working in more than 70 countries worldwide. Following the acquisition of The BOC Group plc, the company has sales of around 12 billion euro per annum.

Image: RWE Power AG's brown-coal fired power plant in Niederaussem, which will run the trials with BASF's carbon capturing solvents. Credit: RWE Power.


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