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    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.

    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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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Global Bioenergy Partnership: cut biofuel trade barries to create a win-win strategy

This week the Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium includes the presentation of the 2007 World Food Prize Thursday evening. The theme of this year's symposium is 'Biofoods and Biofuels: The Global Challenges of Emerging Technologies'. Ahead of the meeting, Corrado Clini, the director-general of the Italian Ministry for the Environment who also chairs the Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) and is a featured speaker at the symposium, calls on wealthy countries in the North to cut trade barriers to make biofuels a global commodity, in what can become a win-win strategy for developing countries and the industrialised world.

Clini thus joins a growing number of energy experts, social think tanks, and food & agriculture analysts who support the case for a 'Biopact', which we started presenting several years ago. As our 'Biofuels Manifesto' points out, such a pact consists of policies and trade frameworks which allow developing countries to enjoy their comparative advantages for producing sustainable bioenergy products, which cut emissions, are highly efficient and can bring unprecedented opportunities for poverty alleviation amongst the rural populations in the South. We reprint the Corrado Clini's text here in full:

"While American farmers are in the midst of harvesting a record-setting corn crop and while ethanol and biodiesel production increases exponentially around the globe, the level of international trade in both biofuels and biofuels feedstocks remains woefully low", Clini writes.

"European countries and the United States have systems of subsidies and incentives in place to encourage and support domestic production of corn, soy, rapeseed, sugarcane and sunflowers - motivated, in part, by the goal of rapidly increasing production of biorenewable fuels from these crops.

These countries also impose tariffs on both raw biofuels feedstocks imported from abroad and on biofuels that are produced and refined overseas.

While such systems support robust domestic production, markets and profits, they de facto reduce the potential for biofuels production in tropical and subtropical countries in Africa, South America and Asia.

And that's unfortunate. These regions enjoy biomass productivity significantly higher than in temperate regions such as Europe and North America - according to some estimates, up to five times higher. Moreover, they have also proven themselves global leaders in the emerging areas of bioenergy.

Take Brazil. Besides having the distinction of being the world's first large-scale producer of ethanol, Brazil was able, over the past 30 years, to drive a revolution in biofuels research, technology and policy that contributed to its path toward comprehensive agricultural, industrial and social development.

Countries of the Caribbean region are another example of this dynamism. Without extensive internal market-support structures, they are nonetheless developing strong biofuels industries and taking advantage of existing preferential trade agreements with the United States and Europe.

International trade in biofuels provides win-win opportunities to all countries. For the United States and EU member nations, importing biofuels is a necessary precondition for meeting self-imposed targets for blending cleaner fuels and reducing emissions of fossil fuels.

For exporting countries, especially small and medium-sized developing countries, the promise of new markets will initiate and enhance industry and add much-needed economic value to raw agricultural and biomass products.

But a level playing field is essential - meaning, in part, reducing and eliminating trade barriers and phasing out trade-distorting subsidies. Prospective investors in biofuels facilities need the assurance that markets will be open and that there will be the scope for exports to allow producers to exploit economies of scale:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Labeling and certification of biofuels and related feedstocks may be instrumental in ensuring that widespread biofuels production and use will indeed lead to environmental improvements. Certification and labeling remain, however, a complex issue. Efforts should be deployed to ensure that the development of sustainability criteria and certification systems contributes to reaching environmental objectives without creating unnecessary barriers to international trade, especially to exports from developing countries.

At the Doha round of World Trade Organization talks, negotiations were launched for "the reduction or, as appropriate, elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services." According to WTO members, renewable-energy products such as ethanol and biodiesel could be classified as environmental goods, but ongoing disagreements have hampered any conclusive result.

New and innovative forums have to be utilized to reach consensus and thereby create an open international market necessary to realize the potential benefits of biofuels in terms of sustainable development, technology transfer, mitigation of climate change and progress toward both energy and food security. Only then will biofuels become a truly sustainable global commodity."

Corrado Clini is the director-general of the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea and also chairs the G8 Global Bioenergy Partnership. He is scheduled to be a featured speaker Thursday at the Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium.

In the July 2005 Gleneagles Plan of Action, the G8 +5 (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) agreed to promote the continued development and commercialisation of renewable energy by launching a Global Bioenergy Partnership to support wider, cost effective, biomass and biofuels deployment, particularly in developing countries where biomass use is prevalent.

Following a consultation process among the developing and developed countries, international agencies and the private sector, the Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) was launched during the Ministerial Segment of the 14th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD14) in New York on 11 May 2006.

The purpose of the Global Bioenergy Partnership is to provide a mechanism for Partners to organize, coordinate and implement targeted international research, development, demonstration and commercial activities related to production, delivery, conversion and use of biomass for energy, with a focus on developing countries.

GBEP provides also a forum to develop effective policy frameworks to:
  • suggest rules and tools to promote sustainable biomass and bioenergy development;
  • facilitate investments in bioenergy;
  • promote project development and implementation;
  • foster R&D and commercial bioenergy activities.

GBEP's main functions are to:
  • promote global high-level policy dialogue on bioenergy and facilitate international cooperation;
  • support national and regional bioenergy policy-making and market development;
  • favour efficient and sustainable uses of biomass and develop project activities in the bioenergy field;
  • foster exchange of information, skills and technologies through bilateral and multilateral collaboration;
  • facilitate bioenergy integration into energy markets by tackling specific barriers in the supply chain;
  • Act as a cross-cutting initiative, working in synergy with other relevant activities, avoiding duplications
GBEP works in synergy with other relevant initiatives, including:
  • FAO's International Bioenergy Platform (IBEP);
  • International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE);
  • Mediterranean Renewable Energy Programme (MEDREP);
  • Methane to Markets;
  • Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21);
  • Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP);
  • UNCTAD BioFuels Initiative;
  • Bioenergy Implementing Agreements and related tasks of the IEA.

Corrado Clini: "Cut trade barriers to make biofuels a global commodity", in: DesMoinesRegister - October 17, 2007.


rufus said...

Wouldn't it behoove Brazil to seriously discuss a trade treaty with the U.S.? (That's what the Central American Countries did.)

I mean, let's face it, Brazil has some of the highest "Import" taxes in the world.

Also, numerous American Presidents have tried to talk "trade" with African nations, including the Congo, with requisition from the other side.

7:47 PM  
Jonas said...

Rufus, I think Brazil is willing to negotiate but it stresses a multilateral approach (Doha, a global framework), because otherwise (in bilateral deals) the developing countries will always lose out.
When they unite, they can go beyond the assymetric power relation so typical of old trade negotations.

But that aside, the question of biofuel subsidies is pretty clear cut: these subsidies must go, they are unproductive for both Euro-Americans and the developing countries. These subsidies are the mere affirmation of corporate power over consumer interests.

You pay billions in tax dollars to support a niche group of people (corn farmers) while you could be supporting the poor without spending a dime and at the same time benefit from it by enjoying cheaper biofuels!

What makes you in favor of European/American biofuel subsidies?

8:43 PM  
rufus said...

160,000 jobs in the U.S. are currently affected by the biofuels business. Billions of dollars in sales taxes, employment taxes, etc.

We're, also, spending about A Billion Dollars/Day for foreign energy. Add that to the rest of our imports and we're running about a $57 Billion/Mo trade deficit.

We're, also, a little uneasy having 70% of our energy come from offshore. It's a little dangerous. We, also, know that sometimes you have to help your native industries get started. Ask Brazil; they did the same thing when they were getting their ethanol business started.

And, like I said, they tax the dickens out of anything we (or you) try to sell down there.

We give them a half a billion gallons tax-free, and they give us squat. If I buy some ethanol from my neighbor out here on the farm, I might sell him something tomorrow. Brazil? Nope. I can't sell them nothing. No Contest.

3:49 AM  

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