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

    German industrial conglomerate MAN AG plans to expand into renewable energies such as biofuels and solar power. Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said services unit Ferrostaal would lead the expansion. Reuters - November 24, 2007.

    Analysts think Vancouver-based Ballard Power Systems, which pumped hundreds of millions and decades of research into developing hydrogen fuel cells for cars, is going to sell its automotive division. Experts describe the development as "the death of the hydrogen highway". The problems with H2 fuel cell cars are manifold: hydrogen is a mere energy carrier and its production requires a primary energy input; production is expensive, as would be storage and distribution; finally, scaling fuel cells and storage tanks down to fit in cars remains a huge challenge. Meanwhile, critics have said that the primary energy for hydrogen can better be used for electricity and electric vehicles. On a well-to-wheel basis, the cleanest and most efficient way to produce hydrogen is via biomass, so the news is a set-back for the biohydrogen community. But then again, biomass can be used more efficiently as electricity for battery cars. Canada.com - November 21, 2007.

    South Korea plans to invest 20 billion won (€14.8/$21.8 million) by 2010 on securing technologies to develop synthetic fuels from biomass, coal and natural gas, as well as biobutanol. 29 private companies, research institutes and universities will join this first stage of the "next-generation clean energy development project" led by South Korea's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. Korea Times - November 19, 2007.

    OPEC leaders began a summit today with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez issuing a chilling warning that crude prices could double to US$200 from their already-record level if the United States attacked Iran or Venezuela. He urged assembled leaders from the OPEC, meeting for only the third time in the cartel's 47-year history, to club together for geopolitical reasons. But the cartel is split between an 'anti-US' block including Venezuela, Iran, and soon to return ex-member Ecuador, and a 'neutral' group comprising most Gulf States. France24 - November 17, 2007.

    The article "Biofuels: What a Biopact between North and South could achieve" published in the scientific journal Energy Policy (Volume 35, Issue 7, 1 July 2007, Pages 3550-3570) ranks number 1 in the 'Top 25 hottest articles'. The article was written by professor John A. Mathews, Macquarie University (Sydney, Autralia), and presents a case for a win-win bioenergy relationship between the industrialised and the developing world. Mathews holds the Chair of Strategic Management at the university, and is a leading expert in the analysis of the evolution and emergence of disruptive technologies and their global strategic management. ScienceDirect - November 16, 2007.

    Timber products company China Grand Forestry Resources Group announced that it would acquire Yunnan Shenyu New Energy, a biofuels research group, for €560/$822 million. Yunnan Shenyu New Energy has developed an entire industrial biofuel production chain, from a fully active energy crop seedling nursery to a biorefinery. Cleantech - November 16, 2007.

    Northern European countries launch the Nordic Bioenergy Project - "Opportunities and consequences of an expanding bio energy market in the Nordic countries" - with the aim to help coordinate bioenergy activities in the Nordic countries and improve the visibility of existing and future Nordic solutions in the complex field of bioenergy, energy security, competing uses of resources and land, regional development and environmental impacts. A wealth of data, analyses and cases will be presented on a new website - Nordic Energy - along with announcements of workshops during the duration of project. Nordic Energy - November 14, 2007.

    Global Partners has announced that it is planning to increase its refined products and biofuels storage capacity in Providence, Rhode Island by 474,000 barrels. The partnership has entered into agreements with New England Petroleum Terminal, at a deepwater marine terminal located at the Port of Providence. PRInside - November 14, 2007.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) kicks off the meeting in Valencia, Spain, which will result in the production of the Synthesis Report on climate change. The report will summarize the core findings of the three volumes published earlier by the separate working groups. IPCC - November 12, 2007.

    Biopact's Laurens Rademakers is interviewed by Mongabay on the risks of large-scale bioenergy with carbon storage (BECS) proposals. Even though Biopact remains positive about BECS, because it offers one of the few safe systems to mitigate climate change in a drastic way, care must be take to avoid negative impacts on tropical forests. Mongabay - November 10, 2007.

    According to the latest annual ranking produced by The Scientist, Belgium is the world's best country for academic research, followed by the U.S. and Canada. Belgium's top position is especially relevant for plant, biology, biotechnology and bioenergy research, as these are amongst the science fields on which it scores best. The Scientist - November 8, 2007.

    Mascoma Corporation, a cellulosic ethanol company, today announced the acquisition of Celsys BioFuels, Inc. Celsys BioFuels was formed in 2006 to commercialize cellulosic ethanol production technology developed in the Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering at Purdue University. The Celsys technology is based on proprietary pretreatment processes for multiple biomass feedstocks, including corn fiber and distiller grains. The technology was developed by Dr. Michael Ladisch, an internationally known leader in the field of renewable fuels and cellulosic biofuels. He will be taking a two-year leave of absence from Purdue University to join Mascoma as the company’s Chief Technology Officer. Business Wire - November 7, 2007.

    Bemis Company, Inc. announced today that it will partner with Plantic Technologies Limited, an Australian company specializing in starch-based biopolymers, to develop and sell renewably resourced flexible films using patented Plantic technology. Bemis - November 7, 2007.

    Hungary's Kalocsa Hõerõmû Kft is to build a HUF 40 billion (€158.2 million) straw-fired biomass power plant with a maximum capacity of 49.9 megawatts near Kalocsa in southern Hungary. Portfolio Hungary - November 7, 2007.

    Canada's Gemini Corporation has received approval to proceed into the detailed engineering, fabrication and construction phases of a biogas cogeneration facility located in the Lethbridge, Alberta area, the first of its kind whereby biogas production is enhanced through the use of Thermal Hydrolysis technology, a high temperature, high pressure process for the safe destruction of SRM material from the beef industry. The technology enables a facility to redirect waste material, previously shipped to landfills, into a valuable feedstock for the generation of electricity and thermal energy. This eliminates the release of methane into the environment and the resultant solids are approved for use as a land amendment rather than re-entering the waste stream. In addition, it enhances the biogas production process by more than 25%. Market Wire - November 7, 2007.

    A new Agency to manage Britain's commitment to biofuels was established today by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly. The Renewable Fuels Agency will be responsible for the day to day running of the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation, coming into force in April next year. By 2010, the Obligation will mean that 5% of all the fuels sold in the UK should come from biofuels, which could save 2.6m to 3m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. eGov Monitor - November 5, 2007.

    Prices for prompt loading South African coal cargoes reached a new record last week with a trade at $85.00 a tonne free-on-board (FOB) for a February cargo. Strong Indian demand and tight supply has pushed South African prices up to record levels from around $47.00 at the beginning of the year. European DES/CIF ARA coal prices have remained fairly stable over the past few days, having traded up to a record $130.00 a tonne DES ARA late last week. Fair value is probably just below $130.00 a tonne, traders said. At this price, some forms of biomass become directly competitive with coal. Reuters Africa - November 4, 2007.

    The government of India's Harayana state has decided to promote biomass power projects based on gasification in a move to help rural communities replace costly diesel and furnace oil. The news was announced during a meeting of the Haryana Renewable Energy Development Agency (HAREDA). Six pilot plants have demonstrated the efficiency and practicability of small-scale biomass gasification. Capital subsidies will now be made available to similar projects at the rate of Rs 2.5 lakh (€4400) per 100 KW for electrical applications and Rs 2 lakh (€3500) per 300 KW for thermal applications. New Kerala - November 1, 2007.

Creative Commons License

Monday, November 26, 2007

125 sugar and ethanol plants sign up to Brazil's environmental protocol for the sugarcane industry

The Brazilian government's 'Environmental Protocol for the Sugar-Ethanol Sector' has so far received [*Portuguese] the signatures of 125 plants in São Paulo state, the country's main sugarcane region. The protocol is aimed at phasing out the practise of burning sugarcane leaves before harvest cycles, by 2017. This greatly improves the already strong carbon balance of ethanol by reducing emissions. However, it also implies a boost to the trend towards mechanised harvesting. Other directives contained in the protocol allow it to become the basis of environmental certification that will facilitate the export of ethanol to countries that threaten to enforce strict, and sometimes protectionist, sustainability criteria.

The number of signatories already surpasses the goal set out by the Ministry of the Environment, which aimed for 100 to 120 adherents in 2007. This signals that its criteria are realistic and perceived as being in the interest of the producers. Ricardo Viegas, manager of the Green Ethanol project, thinks 20 more units can be encouraged to sign up to the protocol before the end of the year, which will bring the list close to reaching all of the 150 sugar processesing plants and ethanol distilleries active in São Paulo.

In the state, some 280 million tons of sugar cane are processed each year. Of these, around 40% is already harvested mechanically, some of which still utilize the practise of burning, even though machines can cope with the full crop. The other 60% relies on manual labor and requires burning off the leaves, to make harvesting of the stalks more practical.

The first goal of the protocol foresees a reduction of the practise of burning in the mechanised areas by 70% by 2010, and a total phase out by 2014. For non-mechanised areas, the text aims for a 30% reduction by 2010 and the end of the practise by 2017.

The trend in Brazil's sugarcane sector is one towards increased mechanisation, and the protocol will speed up this transition. This means two things: on the one hand, the 'social sustainability' of the sugar and biofuel will be greatly improved because the number of workers-with-machetes, the cutters, will be greatly reduced; but on the other hand tens if not hundreds of thousands of these laborers are set to lose their jobs.

Eight other goals have been set, amongst which: the prohibition of burning cane in newly established plantations from November 1 onwards, the collection of any residual vegetation in the vicinity of water springs located on plantations and the implementation of conservation projects.

Even though adherence to the goals of the protocol and its implementation is voluntary, those sugar cane producers that fullfil its requirements receive a certificate of environmental conformity. This certificate will facilitate the export of sugar and ethanol to countries who threaten to impose technical non-tariff barriers to trade for the Brazilian products.

Brazil is aware of the fact that some countries will utilize strict environmental criteria, out of a genuine interest in protecting the environment. Others, who have a history of industrial pollution and unsustainable farming, may utilize such criteria as a way to protect their own, less competitive agricultural sector.

The protocol requires the signatories to produce a detailed overview and chronogram of the way in which they implemented the directives contained in it, as well as details about the properties and the entire process flow inside the industrial operation:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The committee that will oversee the implementation of the plan has created a pragmatic system of giving 'points' on each of the criteria to see in which way they were met. To obtain the environmental certificate, a minimal score has been set.

The Brazilian government has meanwhile initiated work meetings on devising strategies to help the thousands of agricultural workers who will lose their jobs because of the trend towards mechanisation. If all the sugarcane in São Paulo state were to be harvested mechanically today, some 150,000 workers would be out of work, according to a recent survey of labor in the sector.

Local governments are engaged in projects that offer training to these ex-workers, so they can find employment in new industries. But one of the most fruitful strategies consists of training them in such a way that they can take up work as skilled laborers in the sugarcane sector, which is expanding rapidly with the growth of ethanol production. The ex-farm laborers would thus remain employed in the sector they know best.

One of the first of these official initiatives was announced on November 22 in Araçatuba (São Paulo state). A group of 40 sugar cane cutters associated with the Union of the Producers of Bioenergy (Udop) has taken up a course to learn to work with harvesting machines and tractors, in partnership with the National Service of National Transport/Service of Training in Transportion (Sest/Senat).

Translated for Biopact by Laurens Rademakers - thanks to EthanolBrasil.

Agencia Estado: Protocolo ambiental tem adesão de 125 usinas em SP - November 23, 2007.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home