<body> --------------
Contact Us       Consulting       Projects       Our Goals       About Us
home » Archive »
Nature Blog Network

    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.

Creative Commons License

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

USDA: high oil prices push up food prices more than corn ethanol

First-generation biofuels like ethanol made from corn and biodiesel from rapeseed have effects on food prices. However, new evidence from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests high oil prices play a much larger role in this trend. The situation is far more complex than some want to believe, because some biofuels even succeed in pushing inflation down. Researchers point at the situation in Brazil: there inflation indices have dropped because of record ethanol output and record low prices for the biofuel (earlier post). Competitive biofuels bring down costs for all the economic sectors that would otherwise have to rely exclusively on very expensive oil products.

However, corn ethanol is another matter, because it is made from a major food crop and because it is much less efficient than sugarcane ethanol. But even here, the biofuel as such only plays a small role in increased food prices. The great irony is that ethanol's very counter-part, petroleum, is more to blame.

Acting USDA Secretary Chuck Conner - reiterating similar findings made by the UN's vice-director general and head of its Environment Agency (earlier post) and by the EU's Agriculture Commissioner (here) - explained today that global weather conditions, including droughts in Australia, as well as rising demand in China and elsewhere drove up wheat prices. More importantly, Conner says, the recent record highs for retail oil prices added to inflation by increasing the costs of everything: from packaging to transportation and processing.

In our contemporary food system, the cost of raw materials (such as corn or wheat) is marginal compared to the larger costs associated with planting, harvesting, shipping, storing, pre-treating, processing, packaging, and distributing food products. Obviously, all these steps are energy-intensive. So when energy costs and oil prices increase rapidly to reach current records, they are likely to trigger inflation.

What is more, high oil prices not only influence the food system, they influence the entire economy and virtually all of its industrial, agricultural and service sectors - thousands of manufacturing, transportation, and industrial processes (obviously, in energy-intsensive developing countries, this 'outrageous' situation - to quote India's Finance Minister - can be truly catastrophic - see here and here). Biofuels for transport and electricity are exactly meant to break this dependence on costly oil:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

And Brazil shows it works. With cheap ethanol - now at a 30% advantage compared to gasoline on an energy equivalent basis - and bioenergy from bagasse, the threat of rapidly increasing costs for these thousands of processes has been brought down.

In the U.S. food prices have increased about 2.7 percent in each of the last three years. But a jump of between 3.5 percent and 4.5 percent is expected this year before retreating a bit to between 3 percent and 4 percent in 2008, Conner said at a conference hosted by the Renewable Fuels Association, which represents the U.S. ethanol industry. Extremely high oil prices are responsible.

Ethanol producers in the U.S., meanwhile, have taken a hit to their bottom lines in recent months because corn prices remain high, while the price of ethanol has slid by 30 percent due to a supply glut. Conner said he would prefer if the ethanol price drop did not happen, but said long-term investments and production goals remain in place.

Neil Koehler, president and chief executive of Sacramento, California-based Pacific Ethanol Inc. blamed the oil industry for not absorbing as much ethanol as it could at a time when crude prices remain above $80 per barrel. Refiners contend they have limited capacity to blend the fuel with gasoline.

Still, ethanol production is booming. Archer Daniels Midland Co., Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings Inc. and other producers added a total of 1.2 billion gallons (4.54 billion liters) of capacity and 15 new plants since March, which matched the total additions in all of 2006, Conner said.

Meanwhile, the government expects U.S. farmers will produce a record 13.3 billion bushels of corn this year, with about 25 percent used for ethanol. But the number of bushels used for livestock feed also will rise slightly to 5.8 billion bushels, he said. (One bushel of corn equals 25 kilograms).

USDA: Transcript of Remarks by Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner to the Renewable Fuels Association - October 2, 2007.

Associated Press: Oil prices, weather conditions driving up U.S. food prices more than ethanol, official says - October 2, 2007.

Biopact: India: 'outrageous' oil price damages economy, as $80pb could be new floor price - September 27, 2007

Biopact: High oil prices disastrous for developing countries - September 12, 2007

Biopact: UN: biofuels not to blame for high food prices - September 14, 2007

Biopact: EU Commissioner: biofuels have limited effect on food prices - May 04, 2007


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home