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    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.

    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, October 12, 2007

Brazil proposes to qualify biofuels as environmental goods - causes a stir in Doha trade talks

Brazil last week created a stir in the Doha Round negotiations on liberalising trade in environmental goods, by calling for specific products to be slated for expedited tariff cuts based on a request-offer process - with biofuels included.

The talks must "encourage a larger participation of developing countries in this [environmental goods] commerce and must promote their capacity to develop environmental goods industries, argues the proposal (JOB (07/146)). To this end, it advocates "improved market access for their exports of agricultural environmental goods" as a result of the negotiations. Brazil, which is one of the world's biggest producers of ethanol, said that "biofuels are essentially an environmental good," suggesting that trade barriers on them should be reduced.

Trade diplomats discussed the paper at a 2 October informal meeting of the the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment special (negotiating) session.

The Doha mandate in 2001 instructed Members to negotiate "the reduction or, as appropriate, elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services." However, governments have remained divided on how to determine which products are eligible for accelerated liberalisation.

A group of primarily industrialised countries want Members to create a 'list' of environmental goods. India and Argentina counter that this may not adequately ensure that products are used for environmental purposes. They instead support tariff cuts for goods used towards a negotiated list of specific environmental activities, which might include air pollution control, water management, soil conservation, waste management, and renewable energy.

The Brazilian submission said the environmental goods list currently under discussion consists primarily of "highly sophisticated industrial products [...] quite beyond the capacity of developing countries," echoing criticism by others in the developing world. It claimed this could be rectified with a greater focus on "agricultural environmental goods," which barely figure on the current list. Sources report that many Members, competitive farm exporters and reluctant importers alike, criticised the concept of designating agricultural products as environmental goods. They included the EU, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Mexico, Australia and Argentina.

Brazil's suggestion that biofuels were "essentially an environmental good", and thus deserving of expedited tariff cuts, met with a lukewarm response amongst industrialised countries who protect their own, far less efficient biofuels. Several developed country delegates were less than enthusiastic. Canada raised environmental concerns related to biofuel production. The EU, Korea, and Australia expressed skepticism about the idea, and the US did not comment.

Deep tariff cuts on biofuels are unlikely to find favour in industrialised nations, most of which place high tariffs on ethanol. The US, for instance, places a tariff of over 14 cents per litre on ethanol, in order to protect its own politically influential corn-based ethanol industry. EU tariffs are roughly twice as high, at current exchange rates:
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Northern governments currently receive strong political support for subsidising biofuel production, but the ethanol produced in those countries, generally produced from corn, wheat, and rye, is far less efficient at curbing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions than sugarcane-based ethanol produced in tropical countries such as Brazil. Giving the two different tariff treatment would be problematic, due to strictures against differentiating between products on the basis of 'process and production methods.'

Ronald Steenblik, head of research for the Global Subsidies Initiative, which has heavily criticised subsidies for biofuel production said that "cane-based ethanol from existing cane plantations has good energy balance and greenhouse-gas mitigation properties." Given that "many countries have mandated the use of biofuels for environmental reasons, it is right and proper for Brazil to take them at their word, and ask them to level the playing field" between domestic and imported ethanol, he said.

Sources said that the Brazilian proposal broke new ground by suggesting an alternative method for identifying environmental goods. Although describing the 'integrated' approach backed by India and Argentina as "promising," it said that "if Members come to the conclusion" that tariff reduction commitments on specific products are necessary, they could consider a straightforward request and offer approach to do so.

Over the course of a number of "offer rounds," each country would ask its trading partners to slash tariffs on those agricultural and non-agricultural goods it felt would bring environmental benefits. Countries would then determine whether such liberalisation requests might compromise their own development of environmental or other industries, and indicate the environmental goods on which they were prepared to remove trade barriers.

Delegates report that most developed countries were supportive of the 'request-offer' notion, but some developing country representatives suggested that it would be cumbersome and time consuming. The US described it as "helpful," saying that it was not wedded to the concept of a common list for all Members, so long as the outcome of the negotiations was meaningful. Norway and others asked for more information how the 'request-offer' approach would function.

International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development: Brazil's call for biofuel liberalisation causes stir in environmental goods talks - October 10, 2007.


David B. Benson said...

I would like Biopact to do an opinion piece about this and other 'request-offer' systems as this appears to be quite a good approach.

11:00 PM  

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