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    Massey University and Palmerston North City Council in New Zealand have found a way to increase the production of biogas to help drive the council's cogeneration engine to produce steam and electricity by co-digesting whey, an unwanted byproduct from milk processing, with sludge from a wastewater treatment plant. A full scale trial is under way at the Totara Road Treatment Plant to develop a cheap method of disposing of whey, increase gas production from the city's digesters and ultimately earn more carbon credits. Manawatu Standard - October 30, 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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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

HG Consulting launches €330 million integrated sugar and bioenergy 'model project' on 42,000 hectares in Kenya

Brussels based HG Consulting, a consortium of consultants from various aspects of the global sugarcane industry whose main purpose is to develop sustainable sugarcane-to-ethanol projects in Africa, is developing a large €330 million (Ksh 287.1 billion/US$476.8 million) project to kickstart Kenya's biofuel sector. The Belgian company aims to guide investors towards an explicitly socially and environmentally sustainable project, to be located at Homa Bay in the West of the country. The plan includes a whole set of much needed infrastructures and services (electricity, water, roads, housing, educational facilities, microfinance, a hospital and health care) which are expected to greatly benefit poor local communities and bring rural development opportunities. Part of the project will be owned by the sugarcane outgrowers unions.

The Ngima Project at Homa Bay will be an integrated sugarcane facility based near Homa Bay, designed to further develop the country’s sugarcane production capacity. At full capacity, the Ngima Project will:
  • produce 100,000 metric tonnes annually of white plantation sugar for the domestic market, thus contributing to Kenya's food security
  • 259 million litres (68.4 million gallons US) of fuel-grade renewable, climate friendly ethanol for the export market with availability for the domestic market once one develops
  • the crushing season will last nine months at 14,700 tonnes of cane crushed per day
  • in addition to sugar and ethanol production, the facility will produce enough electricity from bagasse to supply the entire project’s needs as well as provide 225,000MWh of electricity - a scarce resource - for the national grid
The Ngima Project is based on a 10,000-hectare nucleus sugarcane farm and sugarcane from outgrowers representing 32,000 hectares in the Homa Bay region (including Rangwe, Ndhiwa, Rongo, Nyatike and Gwassi constituencies) of Western Nyanza, Kenya.

For the local communities who will be growing the sugar, the project is set to bring considerable social and economic development:
The Ngima Project at Homa Bay is not only an enterprise, but also a way of Life. Our vision is to create a place where hard work is rewarded and we strive toward a future that will benefit all of us, on a company level through to the community level. I truly believe there is a way to do business that will not only turn a profit but will also positively develop the region where we work. By investing in our workers and our community from the beginning, we will grow a more prosperous future together. - Meghan Sapp, Managing Director of HG Consulting in Brussels, Belgium and the Ngima Project’s founder.
A feasibility study analyzed the technical, financial, social, marketing and environmental components of the project. The study concluded that the Ngima Project at Homa Bay is a viable project which will benefit not only the investors but also will improve the standard of living of residents around the project area and improve the region’s economy. The project is one of the first to take a firm commitment towards bringing the much talked about 'spillover' effects from a the biofuels industry: infrastructures (electricity, water, 50 kilometers of internal roads between the cane farms and 45 kilometers of roads connecting the farms to asphalt roads), a new market for farmers, jobs, and social and health care services:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::
The Luo word for “Life,” Ngima attempts to encompass a broad scope of economic and social development roles while respecting the local environment. Ngima represents life in all of its forms, from the growing of sugarcane with soil and rain to the encouragement of thriving communities through new jobs, high-quality educational opportunities and healthcare services, and opportunities for those who wish to return home. Ngima is about family: employees and outgrowers of Ngima will be cared for like family while we help you to take care of yours.
What is more, the project actually involves ownership by the farmers. At least 5 per cent equity will be owned by the outgrowers unions:

HG Consulting is leading a team of international investors in the development of the Ngima Project at Homa Bay with the following goals:
  • To develop an economically feasible sugarcane production system;
  • To produce white sugar for the domestic market;
  • To produce fuel-grade ethanol for the domestic and export markets;
  • To produce “green” electricity for the benefit of the country;
  • To develop the local community through the provision of social services including education and health facilities
At full capacity, the Ngima Project will produce 100,000 metric tonnes annually of white plantation sugar for the domestic market as well as 259 million litres of fuel-grade ethanol for the export market with availability for the domestic market once one develops. The crushing season will last nine months at 14,700 tonnes of cane
crushed per day (TCD).

In addition to sugar and ethanol production, the facility will produce enough electricity from bagasse to supply the entire project’s needs as well as provide 225,000MWh of electricity for the national grid.

It is expected that the Ngima Project will qualify under the United Nation’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). It is estimated that the project will produce 217,000 tonnes worth of Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs), commonly known as carbon credits.

The Ngima Project will be entirely privately owned, with at least 5% of the company’s ownership belonging to the outgrowers unions.

HG Consulting believes that if outgrowers are involved with the future of the company directly, and will benefit from its success, they will be even more encouraged to work towards better cane development.

The estimated start-up cost for The Ngima Project at Homa Bay is 330 million euros (Ksh 287.1 billion). Kenana Engineering and Technical Services (KETS) of Khartoum, Sudan developed the feasibility study.

Once the project funding is secured, the next step is to start detailed planning and all aspects related to land ownership, filing proper applications, and outgrowers agreements need to be resolved. Also, HG Consulting needs to coordinate efforts with Kenya Sugar Board (KSB) and Homa Bay officials.

The next phase of the project is the implementation, which includes engineering, procurement, delivery, installation, commissioning, and performance tests. This phase is expected to take approximately two years, said Abdelmuniam Kardash, Senior Engineer at KETS and project manager for the Ngima Project at Homa Bay’s Feasibility Study.

Implementation of the Ngima Project will begin as soon as project funding negotiations are completed, with hopes of beginning in the first or second quarter of 2008. The project will take approximately 18 to 24 months for the first crush to begin. Implementation will be managed under contract by Kenana Engineering & Technical Services whose experience not only in the Kenyan sugar industry but also in the redevelopment of sugar industries across Africa, including Sudan and Nigeria, is recognized as a world leader.

HG Consulting chose to use KETS as the project managers and to develop the feasibility study because of Kenana Sugar Company’s more than 30-year history of world class sugar production while at the same time providing top-class social services like educational and medical facilities for their workers. Kenana is one of the most cost efficient sugar producers in the world, and even so, 40% of the price of their sugar accounts for investments in their social programs. That is a model HG Consulting wishes to emulate at The Ngima Project.

Under KETS’ management, the Ngima Project will also be recruiting many local and national staff to shadow their work under a technology transfer program so that after three to five years, the business may be managed nearly entirely by Kenyans.


Included in the overall budget is the construction of 50 kilometers of internal roads between the cane farms and 45 kilometers of roads connecting the farms to asphalt roads. In additional to these roads, it is understood from the District Commissioner that money has been earmarked by the central central government for the improvement of asphalt roads in the area as well as the construction of a small bridge that will help improve cane haulage and reduce transportation costs in the region.

The provision of social services for the local community, employees, outgrowers and their families is one of the tenets of The Ngima Project. During implementation, a township will also be developed.

From the 330 million euros budgeted for the construction of The Ngima Project, more than 14 million euros have been set aside for the design and construction of the township which will include flats for senior staff and their families, a bachelor complex for 100 on-site workers, a water treatment plant, elevated water tanks, water supply networks, a sewer treatment plant, and sewer networks. In addition, a fully-staffed hospital, an elementary school and a secondary school will be built and operated by The Ngima Project.

Services will be provided to employees, outgrowers and their families either free of charge or at significantly subsidized rates with services also available to the surrounding community.

Specific details regarding the social services will be developed during the design stage of the implementation period and the community will be encouraged to participate in that development through “town hall” meetings. Future plans for social programs under the Ngima Project include additional educational and health facilities, a network of mobile HIV/AIDS vans for testing and treatment and a microfinance program that will allow the families of employees and outgrowers to develop their own businesses and continue to develop the community in their own way.

HG Consulting of Brussels, Belgium is a consortium of consultants from various aspects of the global sugarcane industry whose main purpose is to develop sustainable sugarcane-to-ethanol projects in Africa. With experts from the sugar trading, marketing, production, engineering and communications fields, HG Consulting is the first enterprise of its kind in the world to focus on the potential Africa holds to become a major ethanol-producing region while respecting the need for balance in food production and rural development.

Each and every project HG Consulting develops includes free or subsidized health and education facilities for employees, outgrowers and their families.

Kenana Engineering & Technical Services Kenana Engineering and Technical Services, (KETS), with its headquarters in Khartoum, Sudan, is a local and regional leader in providing knowledge-driven services. With more than 150 professionals in more than five African countries, KETS provides premiere solutions to private customers, municipalities, government agencies, multinational companies, industrial concerns and organizations worldwide in the agro-business and infrastructure fields.

HG Consulting: 42,000 hectare sugarcane-to-ethanol project underway in Western Kenya [*.pdf] - October 2007.


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