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    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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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

FuelCell Energy supplies 4 biogas fuel cell power plants to Linde Group for renewable distributed power generation

FuelCell Energy, Inc, a manufacturer of high efficiency, ultra-clean fuel cell based power plants for commercial, industrial, municipal and utility customers, today announced the sale of 3.9 megawatts of power plants to the Linde Group, a leading gases and engineering company. Linde will install the four power plants at various customer locations in the San Diego area which will utilize purified biogas from the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant (PLWTP) as the primary fuel source for combined heat and power generation. The four power plants include three 1.2MW plants (image, click to enlarge) and one 300kW plant. Their overall systems efficiency, when used in CHP mode, is over 80%.

The unique feat about the project is the fact that Linde will leverage its gas purification and distribution expertise to upgrade the biogas on-site, utilizing energy generated by the 300kW fuel cell running on biogas. The clean biomethane will then be transported off-site to the larger biogas fuel cells in tube trailers. This is the first time renewable biogas is to be used in such a decentralised, distributed way.

Direct FuelCells (DFC) capitalize on the wastewater treatment plants' production of methane gas to produce renewable energy. Because of their high efficiency, DFCs produce near-zero emissions for around-the-clock operations such as hotels, universities, breweries and wastewater treatment plants (more info on these fuel cells in this previous post). Until now, however, the use of wastewater treatment gas was limited to producing power at the facility where the methane is generated, since transporting fuel elsewhere entailed financial and logistic obstacles.

Linde will use methane gas that is currently being flared at the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant (PLWTP) in San Diego, California to fuel the four DFC power plants being purchased from FuelCell Energy. Most of the gas collected and purified by Linde will be transported off-site to three separate customer locations in southern California where DFC1500 ultra-clean power plants will be installed. The remainder of the methane will be used on-site to fuel a DFC300, which will provide renewable baseload power for Linde's purification plant. The electricity generated by the three DFC1500 units will be sold to the host customers under Power Purchase Agreements - establishing the first commercial DFC fuel cell installations to run on transported renewable fuel.
The ability to generate renewable fuel in one location and transport it economically to another where it can be utilized most effectively, fundamentally alters the economics of putting clean energy in place. We are working on a number of opportunities in this area, and strongly believe that projects such as this one, with the added benefits from high efficiency, ultra-clean Direct FuelCell technology, help maximize the economics and utilization of renewable resources. - Christopher Carson, Linde's Head of Biogas Business Development
Just as it does in its traditional industrial gases business, Linde will deliver purified methane by tube trailers to local off-site customers for the production of renewable heat and power. Linde makes thousands of deliveries each day of products like oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and other gases to its customer base, which spans a variety of industries from healthcare and food to traditional heavy industries such as steel, refining and glass:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::
By partnering with a global gas company like Linde, we are in a position to open entirely new markets transporting biogas from generators like wastewater treatment plants to industrial and commercial customers for the production of on-site renewable electricity. Not only will this collaboration lead to a much greater use of biofuels to generate ultra-clean power, but it will also make green energy economical for customers that want to be carbon neutral and contribute to greenhouse gas reduction worldwide. - FuelCell Energy's Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing
Linde's purchase of the DFC units is funded in part by California's Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), which promotes the installation of clean power generation sources throughout the state, and the federal Investment Tax Credit for fuel cells. In addition, because the biogas feedstock costs are not tied to the energy markets, Linde is able to offer its customers price stability for up to a ten year period. This adds up to a winning combination for Linde's customers.

The news of FuelCell Energy's sale to Linde comes just days after the fuel cell manufacturer sold three power plants to California's Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) (earlier post).

Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant treats the wastewater from the City of San Diego and 15 other cities and districts from a 450 square mile area with a population of over 2.2 million. An average of 180 million gallons of wastewater is treated every day. The organic solids (sludge) which have settled out of the wastewater are pumped into one of eight digesters where they are reduced in volume through a heat and bacterial process called anaerobic digestion. After about two weeks, this digested sludge is pumped from Point Loma through a 17 mile pipeline to the Metro Biosolids Center for further processing. Biogas, a biofuel, is a by-product of the digestion process.

The Linde Group is a world-leading gases and engineering company with around 50,000 employees working in more than 70 countries worldwide. Following the acquisition of The BOC Group plc, the company has sales of around 12 billion euro per annum. The strategy of The Linde Group is geared towards earnings-based growth and focuses on the expansion of its international business with forward-looking products and services.

FuelCell Energy is the world leader in the development and production of stationary fuel cells for commercial, industrial, municipal and utility customers. FuelCell Energy's ultra-clean and high efficiency DFC(r) fuel cells are generating power at over 50 locations worldwide. The company's power plants have generated more than 200 million kWh of power using a variety of fuels including renewable wastewater gas, biogas from beer and food processing as well as natural gas and other hydrocarbon fuels. FuelCell Energy has partnerships with major power plant developers, trading companies and power companies around the world. The company also receives substantial funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and other government agencies for the development of leading edge technologies such as hybrid fuel cell/turbine generators and solid oxide fuel cells.

FuelCell Energy: FuelCell Energy Completes Sale to The Linde Group of 3.9 Megawatts of Power Plants for Renewable Distributed Generation - November 27, 2007.

FuelCell Energy: DFC1500MA product Brochure [*.pdf].

FuelCell Energy: The Direct FuelCell Advantage [*.pdf], brochure.

FuelCell Energy: Direct FuelCells White Paper [*.pdf].

Biopact: FuelCell Energy sells three biogas fuel cells to EMWD: low emissions, high efficiency, renewable fuel - November 20, 2007


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