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    Mongabay, a leading resource for news and perspectives on environmental and conservation issues related to the tropics, has launched Tropical Conservation Science - a new, open access academic e-journal. It will cover a wide variety of scientific and social studies on tropical ecosystems, their biodiversity and the threats posed to them. Tropical Conservation Science - March 8, 2008.

    At the 148th Meeting of the OPEC Conference, the oil exporting cartel decided to leave its production level unchanged, sending crude prices spiralling to new records (above $104). OPEC "observed that the market is well-supplied, with current commercial oil stocks standing above their five-year average. The Conference further noted, with concern, that the current price environment does not reflect market fundamentals, as crude oil prices are being strongly influenced by the weakness in the US dollar, rising inflation and significant flow of funds into the commodities market." OPEC - March 5, 2008.

    Kyushu University (Japan) is establishing what it says will be the world’s first graduate program in hydrogen energy technologies. The new master’s program for hydrogen engineering is to be offered at the university’s new Ito campus in Fukuoka Prefecture. Lectures will cover such topics as hydrogen energy and developing the fuel cells needed to convert hydrogen into heat or electricity. Of all the renewable pathways to produce hydrogen, bio-hydrogen based on the gasification of biomass is by far both the most efficient, cost-effective and cleanest. Fuel Cell Works - March 3, 2008.

    An entrepreneur in Ivory Coast has developed a project to establish a network of Miscanthus giganteus farms aimed at producing biomass for use in power generation. In a first phase, the goal is to grow the crop on 200 hectares, after which expansion will start. The project is in an advanced stage, but the entrepreneur still seeks partners and investors. The plantation is to be located in an agro-ecological zone qualified as highly suitable for the grass species. Contact us - March 3, 2008.

    A 7.1MW biomass power plant to be built on the Haiwaiian island of Kaua‘i has received approval from the local Planning Commission. The plant, owned and operated by Green Energy Hawaii, will use albizia trees, a hardy species that grows in poor soil on rainfall alone. The renewable power plant will meet 10 percent of the island's energy needs. Kauai World - February 27, 2008.

    Tasmania's first specialty biodiesel plant has been approved, to start operating as early as July. The Macquarie Oil Company will spend half a million dollars on a specially designed facility in Cressy, in Tasmania's Northern Midlands. The plant will produce more than five million litres of fuel each year for the transport and marine industries. A unique blend of feed stock, including poppy seed, is expected to make it more viable than most operations. ABC Rural - February 25, 2008.

    The 16th European Biomass Conference & Exhibition - From Research to Industry and Markets - will be held from 2nd to 6th June 2008, at the Convention and Exhibition Centre of FeriaValencia, Spain. Early bird fee registration ends 18th April 2008. European Biomass Conference & Exhibition - February 22, 2008.

    'Obesity Facts' – a new multidisciplinary journal for research and therapy published by Karger – was launched today as the official journal of the European Association for the Study of Obesity. The journal publishes articles covering all aspects of obesity, in particular epidemiology, etiology and pathogenesis, treatment, and the prevention of adiposity. As obesity is related to many disease processes, the journal is also dedicated to all topics pertaining to comorbidity and covers psychological and sociocultural aspects as well as influences of nutrition and exercise on body weight. Obesity is one of the world's most pressing health issues, expected to affect 700 million people by 2015. AlphaGalileo - February 21, 2008.

    A bioethanol plant with a capacity of 150 thousand tons per annum is to be constructed in Kuybishev, in the Novosibirsk region. Construction is to begin in 2009 with investments into the project estimated at €200 million. A 'wet' method of production will be used to make, in addition to bioethanol, gluten, fodder yeast and carbon dioxide for industrial use. The complex was developed by the Solev consulting company. FIS: Siberia - February 19, 2008.

    Sarnia-Lambton lands a $15million federal grant for biofuel innovation at the Western Ontario Research and Development Park. The funds come on top of a $10 million provincial grant. The "Bioindustrial Innovation Centre" project competed successfully against 110 other proposals for new research money. London Free Press - February 18, 2008.

    An organisation that has established a large Pongamia pinnata plantation on barren land owned by small & marginal farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India is looking for a biogas and CHP consultant to help research the use of de-oiled cake for the production of biogas. The organisation plans to set up a biogas plant of 20,000 cubic meter capacity and wants to use it for power generation. Contact us - February 15, 2008.

    The Andersons, Inc. and Marathon Oil Corporation today jointly announced ethanol production has begun at their 110-million gallon ethanol plant located in Greenville, Ohio. Along with the 110 million gallons of ethanol, the plant annually will produce 350,000 tons of distillers dried grains, an animal feed ingredient. Marathon Oil - February 14, 2008.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sweden signs biofuel accord with Brazil; abolishes tax on imported ethanol

The Swedish government has signed a biofuel cooperation agreement with Brazil and will remove its heavy import tax on ethanol produced in the South. The move is seen as a way to push EU member states to do the same. Both governments will also work together to help African countries become biofuel producers who can supply global markets. Sweden is thus creating the kernel of a genuine 'biopact'.

The deal comes after the publication yesterday of an OECD report that was written at the request of the Swedish government, Europe's largest importer of ethanol (earlier post). This document says there is an urgent need to liberalise the global biofuels market. The report urges the removal of subsidies for inefficient biofuels made in the North, and the abolishment of taxes in the EU and the US on imported ethanol, in order to allow the use of sustainable and carbon-reducing biofuels made in the South (more here).

These fuels, such as ethanol from sugar cane, are much more efficient than biofuels made in the North which do not substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and which push up food prices because they rely on food crops such as corn and wheat. Sweden is Europe's staunchest supporter of a 'biopact' in which the North imports efficient biofuels from the South instead. For this reason, it has been leading a diplomatic effort to remove trade barriers (more here).

Towards a free market
The country is now putting its money where its mouth is. Sweden has agreed to abolish the heavy import tariff on ethanol under a biofuels accord signed during a visit of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. This is a major success for the Brazilian head of state, who is currently on a biofuel diplomacy tour in Europe.
We intend to abolish this special tax that was introduced on January 1, 2006 in Sweden. We want to take away this tax as fast as possible. - Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.
The European Union member states currently impose a 19 eurocent per liter tax on imported ethanol (equivalent to around US$1/gallon). Sweden, Europe's leading green nation, expects to remove this tax as early as January 1, 2009. From then on, European biofuel producers will no longer be protected by the heavy tariff and face direct competition from Brazilian producers whose production costs are much lower. At least in Sweden, which imports 80 per cent of its ethanol. However, under the biofuel accord, Sweden has vowed to push for an EU-wide abolishment of the tax.

The agreement also furthers cooperation between the two countries to help African nations realize their large biofuel potential. Under the accord, Sweden and Brazil will facilitate the creation of bilateral and multilateral biofuel agreements between developing countries and industrialized countries, as a way to create a global market for sustainable biofuels. This is another area in which the Brazilian government has been very active (more here and here). According to the FAO, biofuel production in Africa can stimulate an 'agricultural renaissance' on the continent and reduce poverty on a large scale (earlier post).

The African continent has a very large potential to produce biofuels without threatening forests or food, fiber and feed supplies. The sustainable potential is estimated to be around 410 Exajoules by 2050 under an optimal scenario (earlier post). This is roughly the equivalent of the world's total current energy consumption:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Bio-ethanol made from sugar cane is the most efficient source of biofuel and is also a market where Brazil hopes to expand its global reach. The production model can be transferred to Africa, where land is abundant and agroclimatic conditions are very suitable for the production of biofuels that effectively reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Sweden is strongly in favor of globalising the biofuel market and sees a great role for developing countries who can utilize the opportunity as a way to boost their own energy security and alleviate poverty on a massive scale. The vision has received support from the FAO and the WorldWatch institute, who say biofuels offer a chance for an 'agricultural renaissance' in Africa.

Commenting on his diplomatic success in Sweden, president Lula said: "I'm very happy to be backed by Sweden. The relations between Sweden and Brazil are extraordinarily good. There are 200 Swedish companies in Brazil, but it's not only because of the number of jobs that are generated by Swedish companies but also because of the political thinking, the way we (have worked) together for so many years."

Lula said that in the face of climate change, "we can no longer keep blaming someone else for being responsible" for threats to the planet. "If each party takes ... responsibililty to do things right, then we have a chance to save our planet."

Lula was to take part in a seminar on biofuels on Wednesday before leaving for Denmark. He will then visit Oslo on Friday and will arrive in Madrid on September 17.

Swedish Government: Brasiliens president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva träffar statsminister Fredrik Reinfeldt [webcast] - September 11, 2007.

AP: Sweden, Brazil sign biofuels deal during Lula visit - September 12, 2007.

Correio de Bahia: Lula estreita cooperação com a Suécia - September 12, 2007.


Anonymous biofuelsimon said...

If this pressure works, and its easy to see why Sweden could make such a deal -- minimal sugar beet and probably about enough grain to feed itself. What is important here is the pressure that the Sweeds will bring to the rest of the European Union. I don't think that it will be enough on its own to bring the trade bloc's tariff walls tumbling down. I think we can expect pretty stiff opositon from the French, British and German farming lobbies as well as the sugar resellers and producers. But once again the Sweeds with with an ethical foreign policy that has the potential to help some of the poorest farmers in the world raise their standards of living. Check out the Big Biofuels blog

3:40 PM  
Blogger Biopact team said...

Hi Simon, the Swedes will never succeed in beating the powerful subsidy guzzling farming lobbies in the EU, just like the handful of rational US senators who want to get rid of America's US$0.54/gallon tariff cannot beat the corn lobby.

On the other hand, Brazil leads a coalition of developing nations (the G20) who could be more successful. They have already launched a dispute against US subsidies at the WTO.

As the G20 becomes more powerful (and it is, with booming economies like India, South Africa, Brazil and China), they can put more pressure on the unfair trade barriers in the EU/US.

Anyways, nice to have you back, Simon. We check the Big Biofuels Blog on a regular basis, and we urge our readers to do so as well!

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this biofuel thing is a shame, all producing countries must think to introduce taxes to exports of biofuel, so that rich countries dont get it for free at expense of the poor countries and environment of this poor countries.
All exported biofuel from producing countries will be taxed by those producing countries, neo-colonialism is dead, once and for all.

3:39 AM  

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