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    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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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Joint venture to produce biodiesel from purpose-bred camelina

Seattle-based bioscience company Targeted Growth has entered into a joint venture agreement with Houston biodiesel maker Green Earth Fuels to produce and market 100 million gallons (378.5 million liters) of biodiesel by 2010 from purpose-bred camelina. The oilseed crop belongs to the Brassicaceae family, in which the more commonly used biodiesel crop rapeseed can be found. The new company is called Sustainable Oils, Inc. and launches the single largest U.S. contract for the unique biodiesel-specific feedstock. Nearly all of the initial camelina production is expected to be grown in Montana.

Camelina sativa
(L.) Crantz., traditionally yields about 1,100 to 1,200 kg of seeds per hectare, with an oil content that ranges from 35 to 37.5%. Whereas other Brassicas like rapseed have been improved significantly through plant breeding (e.g. canola) and improved agronomic practices, camelina has largely not had these benefits (more here).

This has now changed. With knowledge of a growth-controlling gene discovered at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Targeted Growth says it has bred a stronger, taller variety of camelina that yields 20 percent more oil than the standard variety and can be grown on marginal lands with little water or fertilizer. The crop can be harvested with traditional equipment.

Targeted Growth has spent the past three years applying its suite of yield and trait technologies to camelina to create the first Elite Camelina Seed. Specifically, it has used non-transgenic molecular assisted breeding programs to create a crop that is well suited to Montana’s climate and soil and that produces high quality biodiesel.
We have created a better feedstock for biodiesel. Camelina can be rotated with current Montana crops, it grows in land with lower agricultural value, and it doesn’t significantly increase the use of fertilizer or irrigation water. We think this will be a model for the development and use of other biofuel-specific crops. - Tom Todaro, CEO of Targeted Growth
Green Earth Fuels opened one of the country’s largest biodiesel production facilities this month, in Houston, and is successfully developing additional projects to provide biodiesel that meets quality and ratability standards to leading energy companies:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::
This deal allows us access to a high quality feedstock at an extraordinarily competitive price. There’s an advantage to being vertically integrated – it closely aligns our interests with those of our feedstock suppliers. And because Camelina exists outside of the traditional commodity market, it should not be as volatile as other feedstocks. - Greg Bafalis, CEO Green Earth Fuels
Montana senator Max Baucus, who is also Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and who earlier this year sponsored legislation to provide federal crop insurance for Camelina, called the joint venture is good news for the state:
This is really, really big. With gas and energy prices on the rise, climate change breathing down our neck, and instability in the Middle East, America has to do something different. What’s most exciting about this new project is that Montana is going to be part of the energy solution. The fertile fields of Big Sky Country will be on the cutting edge of a bright energy future for America. And not only are we developing new cleaner energy sources, we are creating jobs and boosting Montana’s economy too. I take my hat off to everyone who came together on this project and I have great faith that it’s going to surpass all expectations.
Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Green Earth Fuels is a U.S. leader in the production and distribution of environmentally sound biodiesel with a vertically integrated business model representing end-to-end fuel production. Green Earth Fuels operates production and distribution sites that are independently located within existing petrochemical infrastructures in key U.S. coastal locations, improving industry integration and providing dedicated access to a nationwide production network alongside well-situated distribution channels. The company develops and invests in the production of new feedstock crops and adheres to best practices farming of current crops to promote feedstock sustainability, maximize processing benefits, and minimize environmental impacts.

Targeted Growth
uses agricultural bioscience to enable the long term success of renewable fuels such as biodiesel and ethanol. This includes technology that improves the traits of crops themselves (yield increases, drought resistance, fertilizer requirements, etc.) and the ultimate performance of those crops once converted into biofuels (efficiency of refining, fuel performance characteristics). In addition, the company also develops, grows and markets biofuel specific crops (such as camelina) that are optimized and continually improved for use specifically as a feedstock for biofuels. The company has strategic partnerships with leading researchers and agribusinesses around the world. Targeted Growth is based in Seattle, Wash. with labs in Seattle, Saskatchewan, Ottawa and New Brunswick.

Targeted Growth: Targeted Growth and Green Earth Fuels Announce Landmark Deal
to Produce Camelina-based Biodiesel
[*.pdf] - November 20, 2007.

D.H. Putnam, J.T. Budin, L.A. Field, and W.M. Breene, "Camelina: A Promising Low-Input Oilseed", Handbook of Energy Crops.


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