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    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

World first: fair trade founders team up with Brazilian farmers to sell coffee husk pellets to Dutch energy company

In a unique project, the founding fathers of fair trade products have matched certified coffee farmers in Brazil to the largest energy company in the Netherlands. Development organisation Solidaridad, which launched the world's first officially certified fair trade product back in 1988 ('Max Havelaar' coffee), and energy company Essent are introducing a new form of biomass for use in power stations, using coffee husks as the raw material - a world first. The Doen Foundation is supporting the project because it is making a highly positive contribution to solving the climate problem and because it helps fair trade coffee farmers boost their incomes further, in a sustainable way. The cooperative model could potentially be replicated throughout the world for a range of crop residues (overview of the resource base), helping poor farmers in the South becoming biomass exporters.

The coffee husks are a residual product from Brazilian coffee cultivation. They contain cellulose and have a heating value similar to that of wood. The husks have a bad reputation and damage local coffee markets because they are often co-roasted with coffee beans for the production of low value instant coffee of bad quality.

The husks contain potassium which is why a fraction is used as an organic ferilizer on the coffee plantations. But around two thirds of the large residue stream is left to rot, with damaging effects on local water resources. The rotting husks also generate copious amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Solidaridad, knowing the coffee sector well, therefor decided to look at the resource as a green energy source. As a solid biofuel, the coffee husks have the right chemical properties which makes them suitable for replacing coal and other fossil fuels to produce electricity in power plants. Essent decided to test the fuel and is now effectively using the husks to generate green electricity - a world first. Early calculations of output show that with this innovation it will be possible to achieve a CO2 reduction of at least 90 per cent, compared to an average Dutch power station.

The fair trade coffee companies that supply the raw material - all certified in accordance with the standards of Utz Certified and/or the Rainforest Alliance - work with respect for people and the environment. The coffee harvest in Brazil produces the coffee husks that are compressed into a form known as pellets. At the end of this year, the entire production (around 5,000 tonnes) from this first year, will be shipped to the Netherlands and used to generate green electricity at Essent's Amer power station in Geertruidenberg - a plant with a combined electricity generating capacity of 1,245 megawatt and a heat generating capacity of 600 megawatt. If the whole process is successful, there will be a second load of 20,000 tonnes. In Brazil there is a potential of 150,000 to 200,000 tonnes of coffee husk pellets available on an annual basis. This is sufficient to provide more than 100,000 households with green electricity for a year:
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The coffee husk is not edible. There is no competition with the food or animal feed chains. It is a residual product with a value of about five per cent of the main product. The new market is not expected to cause any expansion of this cultivation and there will not be any additional pressure on nature and small farmers.

The coffee farmers involved are all certified in accordance with the standards of Utz Certified and/or Rainforest Alliance. They now have an extra income thanks to the sale of coffee husks. The cooperation between Essent and Solidaridad is also prompted by the desire to link the existing quality systems of the two parties: Essent Green Gold Label and Solidaridad's Utz Certified label. This type of 'certification cascading' could become a model for future biomass trade.
The Doen Foundation co-finances this project because it offers a concrete example of how we can tackle climate change. Consumers and energy producers can now choose for real 'green electricity'. This product - biomass pellets from coffee husks - goes beyond sustainability criteria, it includes a fair price for farmers who produce it. Essent shows the use of biomass can be approached in a different way. Now it's the government's turn to create the correct financial framework and incentives to promote this kind of initiatives. - Jeffrey Prins, program manager Sustainable Development, Doen Foundation
Essent is the biggest producer of Green Electricity in The Netherlands and its aim is to utilise as much biomass as possible for the sustainable production of energy, though at the same time insisting on important conditions: production of the biomass (in liquid or solid form) must not have any negative consequences for the food and animal feed chains, biodiversity or economy of the countries from which the biomass comes. Essent emphasised and endorsed this view again during the Agreement of Schokland (30 June 2007, Schokland, The Netherlands). Essent is always looking for new, natural waste residues that can be used as biomass and that do not compete with the food or animal feed chains with which to produce Green Electricity at its power station in Geertruidenberg. The new hybrid power station which is about to be built will also be equipped for this.

With an annual turnover in 2006 of 6.4 billion euros, Essent is The Netherlands' biggest energy company. Essent supplies electricity, gas and heating to domestic and business customers. Essent operates throughout the entire energy chain: from the production of energy up to and including delivery to end users. The concern regards The Netherlands as its home market, but has now also built up a considerable market position in Germany and is increasingly active in Belgium. The environmental branch of the concern processes waste into energy and residual currents. Essent employs about 10,000 people.

Development organisation Solidaridad is the initiative behind, among other enterprises, Max Havelaar, Utz Certified and Café Oké and an authority on development problems and the potency of fair trade with third world countries. Solidaridad launched the first ever certified fair trade product in 1988. The organisation is continually starting up new initiatives which contribute to the fight against poverty in developing countries. Close collaboration with large and small companies is of crucial importance in this. As well as in the energy and coffee sectors, Solidaridad also operates in the textiles industry (Kuyichi, MADE-BY), in fruit (Oké fruit) and soya (including in collaboration with Campina).

The Doen Foundation is the foundation of the Good Causes Lotteries. DOEN is committed to an inhabitable world in which everyone can participate. It finances initiatives in the fields of Sustainable Development, Culture, Well-being and Social Cohesion. This project makes a positive contribution to solving the climate problem. The product meets the strictest requirements for sustainability of biomass, which go beyond merely saving CO2. Moreover, the public/private collaboration between Solidaridad and energy supplier Essent is a good example to others in the market.

Essent: World scoop: Green electricity from coffee husks - Essent and Solidaridad launch fair biomass with great reduction in CO2 emissions - July 10, 2007.

Solidaridad: fair biomass projecht page.

Doen Stichting: Wereldprimeur: Groene stroom uit koffieschillen - July 10, 2007.

Biopact: Crop residues: how much biomass energy is out there? - July 14, 2006


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