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    Kazakhstan will next year adopt laws to regulate its fledgling biofuel industry and plans to construct at least two more plants in the next 18 months to produce environmentally friendly fuel from crops, industry officials said. According to Akylbek Kurishbayev, vice-minister for agriculture, he Central Asian country has the potential to produce 300,000 tons a year of biodiesel and export half. Kazakhstan could also produce up to 1 billion liters of bioethanol, he said. "The potential is huge. If we use this potential wisely, we can become one of the world's top five producers of biofuels," Beisen Donenov, executive director of the Kazakhstan Biofuels Association, said on the sidelines of a grains forum. Reuters - November 30, 2007.

    SRI Consulting released a report on chemicals from biomass. The analysis highlights six major contributing sources of green and renewable chemicals: increasing production of biofuels will yield increasing amounts of biofuels by-products; partial decomposition of certain biomass fractions can yield organic chemicals or feedstocks for the manufacture of various chemicals; forestry has been and will continue to be a source of pine chemicals; evolving fermentation technology and new substrates will also produce an increasing number of chemicals. Chemical Online - November 27, 2007.

    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.

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Friday, November 30, 2007

EU makes available €1.75 billion for new research under 7th Framework Programme - emphasis on bioenergy and biofuels

The European Commission is today issuing calls for proposals in 32 research areas, making available about €1.75 billion from the 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7). Areas for support range from environmental science to sustainable transport, from biotechnology to nanotechnology. In the field of renewable energy the calls are mainly focused on bioenergy and biofuels. Other renewables retained for funding include hydropower and photovoltaics. No research calls were made for wind, geothermal, concentrated solar power or ocean power.

The FP7 calls for renewables seek to promote:
  1. new methods for the analysis of supply chains and the production of the full range of clean and carbon-efficient biofuels - gaseous, liquid and solid
  2. research into next-generation fuels from biomass such as lignocellulosic ethanol, syngas gas based fuels, pyrolysis-oil based biofuels and others
  3. improved systems to generate electricity from biomass, currently the most cost-effective form of renewable energy
  4. under the Collaborative Projects there are funds for joint research with Russia on biomass energy, and with Latin America on next-generation liquid biofuels
Further funds will be made available for the Marie Curie International Staff Exchange scheme, which will strengthen the relationships of European research organisations with their international counterparts, and there are specific calls for proposals working with researchers in India on materials and Russia on energy.
There is no time to lose in research. The EU's research framework programme has seen a smooth start in 2007, mobilising researchers from across Europe and beyond to compete with their best ideas and to cooperate in tackling many challenges. Today, we are continuing this effort and we call on all researchers to participate. - Janez Potocnik, European Science and Research Commissioner
There is a strong emphasis on international scientific collaboration in FP7, with all areas of research being open to partnerships including countries from outside the European Research Area. In addition there are some specific activities identified, such as joint research with India on materials science and with Russia on power generation from biomass and tools for large power systems. The sustainable production and analysis of supply chains of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels from biomass, especially next-generation fuels, is also a key research area to be funded.

Electricity from biomass
In the field of energy research there is the call for the development of improved biomass electricity generation systems (FP7-ENERGY-2008-1). Current costs of electricity from biomass are in the range of €0.05 – €0.08 /kWh. Development should aim at extending applications to a wider range of biomass materials by (1) solving specific problems hindering the use of biomass in direct co-firing and (2) addressing technical challenges for advanced biomass gasification systems for efficient power production.

Demonstrations should aim at medium to large scale bio-electricity systems, covering the whole process chain from sustainable feedstock supply over energy conversion to the recovery of by-products. Preference will be given to the ambitious use of biofuels with still high exploitation potentials such as forest residues, energy crops, agricultural residues including straw, refuse derived fuels etc. Medium-to-large scale power generation from organic waste also comprises mass burning of solid municipal waste as well as the separate use of pretreated and pre-separated municipal waste fractions.

Emphasis is put on innovations with high penetration potential throughout Europe while also paying due attention to overall sustainability aspects. Stakeholders relevant for the commercialisation of the innovation are expected to participate.

Proposals with bioenergy plants operating (at least partially) in combined heat and power (CHP) or combined heat, cooling and power (CCHP) will be preferred in case of similar performances in all other criteria.

The overall expected impact can be summarized thus: increased electricity production from biomass through the development and demonstration of improved biomass power generation and CHP plants which allow power generation costs below EUR 0.04 /kWh in 2020 whilst operating on a variety of sustainably produced biomass feedstocks.

Collaboration with Russia
A call for collaboration with Russia on research and technology development in the field of power generation from biomass is included as well. This collaborative research activity should be based on an assessment of ongoing research, the identification of best practices, gaps in knowledge, and barriers to implementation in both the EU and Russia. Expected impacts are an effective cooperation between key researchers and industries in the field of power generation from biomass, so as to foster the development and uptake of innovative methods and technologies to expand the use of biomass in power generation:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The typical consortium should be a partnership between EU and Russian teams. In order to ensure a balance between EU and Russian participants a minimum number of two participants established in Russia is requested. This is an eligibility criterion. The funding of all participants will follow the rules established for the Energy EU-Russia Call. Participants being established in the EU or in an associated country may jointly receive up to EUR 2 million from the European Commission and the Russian partners may jointly receive up to EUR 2 million from the Federal Agency for Science and Innovation. The project duration is normally 3 years.

Cooperation is encouraged between academic and industrial organisations from the EU and Russia which are actively involved in research and development on power generation from biomass.

Biofuel production and supply chains
Research into, development and demonstration of improved biofuel production systems and conversion technologies for the sustainable production and supply chains of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels from biomass (incl. biodegradable fraction of waste) receives funding. Emphasis should be on new types of biofuels in particular for transport and electricity as well as on new production, storage and distribution routes for existing biofuels, including the integrated production of energy and other added-value products through biorefineries.

Aiming to deliver ‘source to user’ carbon benefits, research will focus on improving energy efficiency, enhancing technology integration and use of feedstock. Issues such as feedstock logistics, pre-normative research and standardisation for safe and reliable use in transport and stationary applications will be included. To exploit the potential for renewable hydrogen production, biomass, renewable electricity and solar energy driven processes will be supported.

The structure and content of this Activity takes into consideration the Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) of the Biofuels Technology Platform.

This research activity would facilitate the actual implementation of the Directive on the promotion of the use of biofuels or other renewable fuels for transport (2003/30/EC, O.J. L125, 17.05.2003).

Second generation biofuels from biomass
Second generation biofuels comprise a range of alternatives such as lignocellulosic ethanol, syngas gas based fuels, pyrolysis-oil based biofuels and others. Activities will cover process development and system integration focusing on the conversion process, with a view to improve cost-competitiveness of biofuels while minimising the environmental impact of biofuel production.

Results are expected to expand the biomass feedstock available for biofuel production, assisting the take-off of a large biofuel industry while helping to avoid food/fuel competition for the land use.

Technology developments should bring about substantial cost reduction to pave the way for large scale production of second generation biofuels by 2020, while improving the energy balance and environmental impact of biofuel production.

Enhancing international cooperation between the EU and Latin America in the field of biofuels
Proposals could address the characterisation of feedstock and pre-treatment technology, optimisation of the production processes for 1st and 2nd generation biofuels, sustainability issues and coproduction of biofuels and bioproducts (Open in call: FP7-ENERGY-2008-1)

This Collaborative Project with a predominant research component has the following expected impacts: the significant enhancement of the cooperation between key researchers and industries from the EU and Latin America in the field of biofuels.

This is a Specific International Cooperation Action. At least four legal entities must participate, two from EU Member States or Associated Countries, and two from Latin America. The consortium should include in a balanced way both Latin American and European partners with solid experience and competence in the field and strong project management skills. Key players in the consortium should have a proven track record of EU-LA collaboration. The partnership should demonstrate the added value of EU-LA collaboration in the proposed action. Expertise in the international context and knowledge of Latin America for European partners and vice-versa is important. Preference will be given to actions involving countries having a S&T bilateral agreement with the EU and/or specific arrangements.

CCS, smart energy networks
The new FP7 calls also focus on research into carbon capture and storage (CCS), and the wide range of issues that form part of this field: CO2 capture, CO2 transport and storage infrastructure development, public acceptance, the development of a suitable methodology for the qualification of deep saline aquifers for CO2 storage,

Further funds are available for research into smart energy networks, the development of interactive distribution energy networks, pan-European energy networks and infrastructures (gas), as well as into energy saving and efficiency in both the domestic as well as the industrial sector.

Under the grant scheme, the European Research Council will also be unveiling its new funding initiative, the Advanced Grant Scheme, opening the ERC for the first time to established researchers. Other areas covered are: research infrastructures; regions of knowledge; the role of science in society; and support to small and medium-sized companies.

A network of national contact points is availableto help researchers identify areas of interest and to help create the partnerships that are generally required for accessing European funding.

European Commission, CORDIS: Seventh Research Framework Programme - Calls.

European Commission: Work Programme 2008, Cooperation Theme 5: Energy [*.pdf, manual download]- European Commission C(2007)5765 of 29 November 2007

AlphaGallileo: €1.75 billion of new research money available for European projects - November 30, 2007.


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