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    Biopact is moving to a new server this weekend, so at times the site may be difficult to access or temporarily offline. We should be up and running again on Monday. Biopact - October 27, 2007.

    U.S. oil prices and Brent crude rocketed to all-time highs again on a record-low dollar, tensions in the Middle East and worries over energy supply shortages ahead of the northern hemisphere's winter. Now even wealthy countries like South Korea are warning that the record prices will damage economic growth. In the developing world, the situation is outright catastrophic. Korea Times - October 26, 2007.

    Ethablog's Henrique Oliveira, a young Brazilian biofuels business expert, is back online. From April to September 2007, he traveled around Brazil comparing the Brazilian and American biofuels markets. In August he was joined by Tom MacDonald, senior alcohol fuels specialist with the California Energy Commission. Henrique reports about his trip with a series of photo essays. EthaBlog - October 24, 2007.

    Italy's Enel is to invest around €400 mln in carbon capture and storage and is looking now for a suitable site to store CO2 underground. Enel's vision of coal's future is one in which coal is used to produce power, to produce ash and gypsum as a by-product for cement, hydrogen as a by-product of coal gasification and CO2 which is stored underground. Carbon capture and storage techniques can be applied to biomass and biofuels, resulting in carbon-negative energy. Reuters - October 22, 2007.

    Gate Petroleum Co. is planning to build a 55 million-gallon liquid biofuels terminal in Jacksonville, Florida. The terminal is expected to cost $90 million and will be the first in the state designed primarily for biofuels. It will receive and ship ethanol and biodiesel via rail, ship and truck and provide storage for Gate and for third parties. The biofuels terminal is set to open in 2010. Florida Times-Union - October 19, 2007.

    China Holdings Inc., through its controlled subsidiary China Power Inc., signed a development contract with the HeBei Province local government for the rights to develop and construct 50 MW of biomass renewable energy projects utilizing straw. The projects have a total expected annual power generating capacity of 400 million kWh and expected annual revenues of approximately US$33.3 million. Total investment in the projects is approximately US$77.2 million, 35 percent in cash and 65 percent from China-based bank loans with preferred interest rates with government policy protection for the biomass renewable energy projects. Full production is expected in about two years. China Holdings - October 18, 2007.

    Canadian Bionenergy Corporation, supplier of biodiesel in Canada, has announced an agreement with Renewable Energy Group, Inc. to partner in the construction of a biodiesel production facility near Edmonton, Alberta. The company broke ground yesterday on the construction of the facility with an expected capacity of 225 million litres (60 million gallons) per year of biodiesel. Together, the companies also intend to forge a strategic marketing alliance to better serve the North American marketplace by supplying biodiesel blends and industrial methyl esters. Canadian Bioenergy - October 17, 2007.

    Leading experts in organic solar cells say the field is being damaged by questionable reports about ever bigger efficiency claims, leading the community into an endless and dangerous tendency to outbid the last report. In reality these solar cells still show low efficiencies that will need to improve significantly before they become a success. To counter the hype, scientists call on the community to press for independent verification of claimed efficiencies. Biopact sees a similar trend in the field of biofuels from algae, in which press releases containing unrealistic yield projections and 'breakthroughs' are released almost monthly. Eurekalert - October 16, 2007.

    The Colorado Wood Utilization and Marketing Program at Colorado State University received a $65,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service to expand the use of woody biomass throughout Colorado. The purpose of the U.S. Department of Agriculture grant program is to provide financial assistance to state foresters to accelerate the adoption of woody biomass as an alternative energy source. Colorado State University - October 12, 2007.

    Indian company Naturol Bioenergy Limited announced that it will soon start production from its biodiesel facility at Kakinada, in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The facility has an annual production capacity of 100,000 tons of biodiesel and 10,000 tons of pharmaceutical grade glycerin. The primary feedstock is crude palm oil, but the facility was designed to accomodate a variety of vegetable oil feedstocks. Biofuel Review - October 11, 2007.

    Brazil's state energy company Petrobras says it will ship 9 million liters of ethanol to European clients next month in its first shipment via the northeastern port of Suape. Petrobras buys the biofuel from a pool of sugar cane processing plants in the state of Pernambuco, where the port is also located. Reuters - October 11, 2007.

    Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation, a leader in biomass-to-biofuel technology, announces that it has completed a $10.5 million equity financing with Quercus Trust, an environmentally oriented fund, and several other private investors. Ardour Capital Inc. of New York served as financial advisor in the transaction. Business Wire - October 10, 2007.

    Cuban livestock farmers are buying distillers dried grains (DDG), the main byproduct of corn based ethanol, from biofuel producers in the U.S. During a trade mission of Iowan officials to Cuba, trade officials there said the communist state will double its purchases of the dried grains this year. DesMoines Register - October 9, 2007.

    Brasil Ecodiesel, the leading Brazilian biodiesel producer company, recorded an increase of 57.7% in sales in the third quarter of the current year, in comparison with the previous three months. Sales volume stood at 53,000 cubic metres from August until September, against 34,000 cubic metres of the biofuel between April and June. The company is also concluding negotiations to export between 1,000 to 2,000 tonnes of glycerine per month to the Asian market. ANBA - October 4, 2007.

    PolyOne Corporation, the US supplier of specialised polymer materials, has opened a new colour concentrates manufacturing plant in Kutno, Poland. Located in central Poland, the new plant will produce colour products in the first instance, although the company says the facility can be expanded to handle other products. In March, the Ohio-based firm launched a range of of liquid colourants for use in bioplastics in biodegradable applications. The concentrates are European food contact compliant and can be used in polylactic acid (PLA) or starch-based blends. Plastics & Rubber Weekly - October 2, 2007.

    A turbo-charged, spray-guided direct-injection engine running on pure ethanol (E100) can achieve very high specific output, and shows “significant potential for aggressive engine downsizing for a dedicated or dual-fuel solution”, according to engineers at Orbital Corporation. GreenCarCongress - October 2, 2007.

    UK-based NiTech Solutions receives £800,000 in private funding to commercialize a cost-saving industrial mixing system, dubbed the Continuous Oscillatory Baffled Reactor (COBR), which can lower costs by 50 per cent and reduce process time by as much as 90 per cent during the manufacture of a range of commodities including chemicals, drugs and biofuels. Scotsman - October 2, 2007.

    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.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Acciona Energy invests €140 million to build three biomass plants in Spain

The world's largest renewables firm, Acciona Energy, announces a major investment in three large and three smaller biomass plants to produce green electricity in Spain. The large facilities will be build in the region of Castilla y León: in Briviesca (Burgos - earlier post), Valencia de Don Juan (León) and Almazán (Soria) (map, click to enlarge). They will have a total capacity of 55 MW and see an investment of €140 (US$201.5) million. All of them will be participated in by the Ente Regional de la Energía (EREN) of Castilla y León. Another three 15MW biomass plants are being developed by Acciona elsewhere in the country.

Overall, the new power facilities will produce 440 million kWh, equivalent to the electricity consumption of 180,000 homes in Castilla y León and will create 300 jobs (direct and indirect) in the plants and the sector that supplies the biomass. The Briviesca plant could be operational by the second quarter of 2009 and the other two in the second half of 2010.

Acciona Energy already has three biomass plants in service in Spain, totalling 33 MW. The biggest (25 MW) is located in Sangüesa (Navarre). It opened in test mode in 2002 and produces 200 million kWh per year through the combustion of 160,000 tonnes of straw. The company's experience of operating a biomass plant over several years will be transferred to the new facilities.
Briviesca: the most advanced project
The Briviesca plant will have a capacity of 15 MW and will produce 120 million kWh a year through the combustion of 98,000 tonnes of raw material (80% of herbaceous waste -mainly straw- and 20% of wood waste). It represents an investment of €43 million and construction work will begin at the end of 2007 or in early 2008.

Feedstock: most of the raw material will come from the provinces of Burgos and Palencia (within a radius of 75 kilometres around the plant), and in particular from the Bureba area. The surrounding area will thus see an economic benefit from the exploitation of this waste organic material. Long-term supply contracts will be signed with farmers, cooperatives and other sector professionals, and the plant will create 25 direct and 75 indirect jobs.

Valencia de Don Juan: the biggest plant
The plant at Valencia de Don Juan (León) will have the greatest capacity (25 MW) of the three. It will consume 160,000 tonnes of raw material a year, with a similar distribution to that of Briviesca (80% herbaceous waste, 20% wood waste). It represents an investment of 55 million euros and will produce 200 million kilowatt-hours.

Feedstock: most of the raw material will come from the provinces of León, Palencia, Valladolid and Zamora within a radius of 100 kilometres from the plant. To the east, the radius for the supply of raw material extends almost as far as the supply zone for the Briviesca plant, meaning that almost all the northern part of the region - the provinces of Burgos, Palencia and León - can potentially supply the plant. The facility will create between 25 and 30 direct jobs and 100 indirect jobs.

Almazán: energy crops

The plant at Almazán (Soria) has been planned for a capacity of 15 MW and will have a greater variety of raw materials for combustion: on one hand forestry and agricultural waste, and energy crops on the other. The proportion will vary on the basis of supply trends and the evolution of the business. The plant represents an investment of €42 million and will produce 120 million kilowatts per year.

Feedstock: given the range of supplies and their different calorific values, 117,000 tonnes of raw material will be required a year in a supply radius around the plant of 75 kilometres. This covers the entire province of Soria and part of Burgos. The plant will create 25 direct and 70 indirect jobs.
In addition to these plants, Acciona Energy is developing three other biomass plants in Spain, all with a capacity of 15 MW. The projects are located in Miajadas (Cáceres), Alcázar de San Juan (Ciudad Real) and Cuenca:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

A sector that should take off
Within renewable technologies, biomass for electricity production has been the one that has developed least in recent years in Spain in comparison with initial expectations. While biomass accounted for 189 MW installed in Spain in 1998 (including biogas), by 2004 - six years later - only 344 MW had been put into service (an average of 25 MW per annum) despite the fact that the objective in the Renewables Promotion Plan approved in 1999 was 1,897 MW by 2010. Indeed, the most recent Renewables Plan (PER), approved in 2005, set a target of 2,039 MW by the end of the decade.

The fact that only 65 MW were installed in 2005 and 2006, to reach a total of 409 MW, has led to the Government approving an increase in premiums for electricity generation from biomass in Royal Decree 661/2007. It is hoped that this measure will help other projects of this type to get off the ground.

Despite its great potential in biomass, at present Castilla y León only has 9 MW in operation for the production of electricity from this technology, which contrasts with the strong position held by the region in other renewable energy sources such as wind power and hydro.

Taking renewables serious
Acciona Energy is the world leader in renewables, a sector in which it is present in eight different technologies. In wind power the company has implemented 4,912 MW in 180 windparks in 10 countries, of which 3,603 MW belong to the company. It also produces wind turbines using proprietary technology. It has three biomass plants and 19 small hydro power stations. In solar power it has installed the biggest thermoelectric plant (64 MW) built in the last 16 years; it is the leader in Spain in photovoltaic (38 MW) and thermal (28 MW) and has designed the first "zero emissions" building in the country.

Morerover, Acciona produces homologated quality biodiesel from vegetable oils and bioethanol from wine surplus alcohol. It belongs to the ACCIONA Group, one of the main national and international corporations in the development and management of infrastructures, services and renewable energy sources, with a workforce of over 38,000 worldwide. The company is listed on the selective IBEX-35 (ANA.MC) index with a capitalisation of 13 billion euros.

Acciona: Acciona Energy develops three biomass plants in Castilla y León (Spain) - October 24, 2007.

Biopact: Acciona to build 15MW biomass power plant in Castilla y León - April 11, 2007


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