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    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.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Argentina export tax hike seen as strong incentive to biofuels

Leading agricultural exporter Argentina has added another major incentive to the booming biofuel industry by increasing the export tax on soybeans, soy-based products, and corn, but not on biofuels, according to analysts. The government raised the export tax on soy to 35% from 27.5% and the tax on soymeal and soyoil exports to 32% from 24%. The export tax on soy-based biodiesel was left at 5%, with a 2.5% tax credit - an effective export tax rate of 2.5%. The measures are part of Argentina's ongoing policy efforts aimed at preparing the country to secure a share of the international biofuels market (earlier post).

Argentina is expecting to quadruple biodiesel production next year from 200 to 800 million liters (graph, click to enlarge), and by the end of the decade will be making 10 times the amount it produced in 2007, according to a recent report [*.pdf] on the sector by the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service.

The export tax structure is the key to making the industry profitable and able to compete with fossil fuels, Renova SA Director Diego Mejuto said recently. Last month Renova, a joint venture between local grain exporter Vicentin SAIC and Glencore International AG, cut the ribbon on a $20 million biodiesel plant on the banks of Argentina's La Plata River, the first of a wave of major projects slated to come online in the next several months.

The company expects the European Union and U.S. to be the primary markets for the soy-based biodiesel it produces, Mejuto said.

Even before the new tax incentives, Argentina was on track to produce 1.5 million metric tons of soy-based biodiesel in 2008, according to Lorena D'Angelo, of the economic studies department of the Rosario Grain Exchange.

Most of the other major grain exporters are also racing to take advantage of the tax and other incentives designed to spur on the sector. Aceitera General Deheza and Bunge Ltd. (BG) are working on a $40 million plant, Louis Dreyfus Group is investing $45 million to get into the game and Repsol YPF SA (REP) has a $30 million project in the pipes, according to the Rosario Grain Exchange.

In addition to the federal tax incentives, the province of Santa Fe has provided a host of tax breaks and financing schemes to ensure that biofuel production is concentrated in the province, Gov. Jorge Obeid said recently. Santa Fe already boasts the majority of the nation's soy processing and shipping capacity.

Investment in the sector is expected to reach $1 billion over the next four years, according to a recent report by Abeceb Consultancy:
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President Nestor Kirchner approved the nation's biofuel incentives law in March. In addition to the export tax breaks, the law mandates a 5% content of biodiesel or ethanol in the nation's fuel by 2010 and provides tax breaks and incentives for projects aimed at supplying the domestic market that are at least 50% owned by Argentines.

Meeting the biofuel needs mandated by the law will use 8% of the soy grown each year and 3% of corn, based on current output, Miguel Almada, director of Argentina's biofuel program at the Agriculture Secretariat, said in a recent interview.


The government also raised the tax on corn exports, to 25% from 20%, while corn and sugar-based ethanol exports are taxed at an effective rate of 1%.

Although Argentine ethanol production pales in comparison to the rush toward soy-based biodiesel, companies are also starting to convert sugarcane grown in the north of the country and corn to fuel.

Last year, Argentina produced 200,000 tons of ethanol at more than a dozen plants in the northwest of the country, and producers are eying increasing production using corn.

In addition, the government introduced a bill this month to modify this year's biofuel law, extending incentives to the nation's sugar industry.

Biopact: Argentina's government amends biofuels law to include incentives for sugarcane ethanol - October 12, 2007

USDA Foreign Agricultural Service: Argentine Bio-Fuels Report [*.pdf], GAIN Report, June 6, 2007


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