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    According to the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE), Brazil's production of sugarcane will increase from 514,1 million tonnes this season, to a record 561,8 million tonnes in the 2008/09 cyclus - an increase of 9.3%. New numbers are also out for the 2007 harvest in Brazil's main sugarcane growing region, the Central-South: a record 425 million tonnes compared to 372,7 million tonnes in 2006, or a 14% increase. The estimate was provided by Unica – the União da Indústria de Cana-de-Açúcar. Jornal Cana - December 16, 2007.

    The University of East Anglia and the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre have today released preliminary global temperature figures for 2007, which show the top 11 warmest years all occurring in the last 13 years. The provisional global figure for 2007 using data from January to November, currently places the year as the seventh warmest on records dating back to 1850. The announcement comes as the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Michel Jarraud, speaks at the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Bali. Eurekalert - December 13, 2007.

    The Royal Society of Chemistry has announced it will launch a new journal in summer 2008, Energy & Environmental Science, which will distinctly address both energy and environmental issues. In recognition of the importance of research in this subject, and the need for knowledge transfer between scientists throughout the world, from launch the RSC will make issues of Energy & Environmental Science available free of charge to readers via its website, for the first 18 months of publication. This journal will highlight the important role that the chemical sciences have in solving the energy problems we are facing today. It will link all aspects of energy and the environment by publishing research relating to energy conversion and storage, alternative fuel technologies, and environmental science. AlphaGalileo - December 10, 2007.

    Dutch researcher Bas Bougie has developed a laser system to investigate soot development in diesel engines. Small soot particles are not retained by a soot filter but are, however, more harmful than larger soot particles. Therefore, soot development needs to be tackled at the source. Laser Induced Incandescence is a technique that reveals exactly where soot is generated and can be used by project partners to develop cleaner diesel engines. Terry Meyer, an Iowa State University assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is using similar laser technology to develop advanced sensors capable of screening the combustion behavior and soot characteristics specifically of biofuels. Eurekalert - December 7, 2007.

    Lithuania's first dedicated biofuel terminal has started operating in Klaipeda port. At the end of November 2007, the stevedoring company Vakaru krova (VK) started activities to manage transshipments. The infrastructure of the biodiesel complex allows for storage of up to 4000 cubic meters of products. During the first year, the terminal plans to transship about 70.000 tonnes of methyl ether, after that the capacities of the terminal would be increased. Investments to the project totaled €2.3 million. Agrimarket - December 5, 2007.

    New Holland supports the use of B100 biodiesel in all equipment with New Holland-manufactured diesel engines, including electronic injection engines with common rail technology. Overall, nearly 80 percent of the tractor and equipment manufacturer's New Holland-branded products with diesel engines are now available to operate on B100 biodiesel. Tractor and equipment maker John Deere meanwhile clarified its position for customers that want to use biodiesel blends up to B20. Grainnet - December 5, 2007.

    According to Wetlands International, an NGO, the Kyoto Protocol as it currently stands does not take into account possible emissions from palm oil grown on a particular type of land found in Indonesia and Malaysia, namely peatlands. Mongabay - December 5, 2007.

    Malaysia's oil & gas giant Petronas considers entering the biofuels sector. Zamri Jusoh, senior manager of Petronas' petroleum development management unit told reporters "of course our focus is on oil and gas, but I think as we move into the future we cannot ignore the importance of biofuels." AFP - December 5, 2007.

    In just four months, the use of biodiesel in the transport sector has substantially improved air quality in Metro Manila, data from the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) showed. A blend of one percent coco-biodiesel is mandated by the Biofuels Act of 2007 which took effect last May. By 2009, it would be increased to two percent. Philippine Star - December 4, 2007.

    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.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Abengoa Bioenergy proposes $250 million investment in cassava based biofuel facilities in the Philippines

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today announced the plan of Europe's largest ethanol producer, Abengoa Bioenergy, to invest $250 million to develop 50,000 hectares of cassava plantation in the Philippines for the production of feedstock for biofuel facilities in the country. Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed with the Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corporation (PADCC), Abengoa Bioenergy will also provide technical assistance in identifying varieties of cassava for trial cultivation, in developing high starch yielding types, in tropical agronomy, and in training farmers.

Abengoa Bionergy, subsidiary of energy company Abengoa SA, operates bioethanol facilities not only in Europe but also in Brazil and the United States, where it is the fifth largest producer. It is a developer of next-generation biofuel technologies based on the enzymatic hydrolysis of biomass and operates one of the first such cellulosic ethanol refineries (plant in Salamanca: 5 million liters/year).

The planned distillery in the Philippines is expected to produce one million to 1.2 million tons of feedstock, and generate about 150 to 200 million liters of bioethanol annually, making it a large facility.

Cassava's efficiency
Abengoa Bioenergy's project will consist of establishing dedicated cassava plantations on around 50,000 hectares of land, and of training the farmers and outgrowers who will manage the fields.

Cassava is seen as a promising energy crop because of its high starch yield and its low input requirements; moreover, it can be grown on relatively degraded land. Scientists have found that ethanol made from the plant is highly efficient: it has a strong energy balance and reduces greenhouse gas emissions considerably (previous post).

According to the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), which aims to alleviate rural poverty in the developing world, the new opportunities brought by the biofuels sector could help lift millions of small farmers across South East Asia out of poverty (earlier post). Cassava starch prices have been low for years and the plant is traditionally seen as 'the poor man's crop'. But according to the CIAT this situation may soon change because of biofuels:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

CIAT is a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a 'Green Revolution' consortium of research organisations that fosters sustainable agricultural growth through high-quality science aimed at benefiting the poor through stronger food security, better human nutrition and health, higher incomes and improved management of natural resources.

The MOA on cassava between Abengoa Bioenergy and the DA, was signed by Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat and Javier Salgado Leirado, chairman of Abengoa, during a two-day state visit of President Arroyo to Spain. The agreement is valid for one year.

Puyat said that aside from providing the design engineering and the machinery required for the development of cassava plantations, Abengoa will also study the possibility of establishing bioethanol production plants in the Philippines.

Through the Abengoa-PADCC Working Committee, the PADCC will be tasked to assist the Spanish company in conducting capability enhancement training for farmers, particularly in the area of enterprise management, she said.

Puyat said that Abengoa will also lend its technical expertise in agriculture in developing high yielding varieties and increasing feedstock productivity.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said that Abengoa and PADCC, along with the DA Biofuel Feedstock Development Program, can further enter into partnerships focusing on energy crops development and cost-competitive biomass technology.
We hope that Abengoa will immediately move forward its initial understanding with PADCC into concrete timelines to cover the early completion of the feasibility study and the immediate implementation of the project, preferably within 2008. - Arthur Yap, Agriculture Secretary of the Philippines
Last January, the president signed into law Republic Act (RA) 9367 or the Biofuels Law, which aims to ease the country's dependence on imported, dollar-draining and pollution-generating energy sources by making the blending of ethanol and biodiesel in petroleum products mandatory.
This proposed investment can boost our long term-goal in biofuel production and the development of alternative fuel sources in these days of rising fuel costs. - Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines
The Philippines' attractiveness
The Philippines are ranked as a country with a large sustainable biofuel potential (see Biofuel Country Attractiveness indices for Q1 and Q2 of this year). This ranking is due to its abundance of land and a suitable agro-climatic environment for the production of high yielding energy crops; its central location in the fastest growing fuel market, East and South East Asia; and its clear policies and stable investment climate.

This has led to a number of large foreign investments from Chinese, Japanese, European and American companies, often in partnership with local companies. Projects involve the production of fuels from crops like sugarcane, new sweet sorghum hybrids, cassava, jatropha, and grass species dedicated to biomass production.

Earlier this month, Bionor Transformacio S.A., a leading European biodiesel firm based in Bilbao, also disclosed plans to invest $200 million in the Philippines to develop at least 100,000 hectares of jatropha plantations to be used as feedstock for biofuel facilities in the country (previous post).

Earlier, PNOC-Alternative Fuels Corp, the alternative fuels subsidiary of state-owned Philippine National Oil Co., signed a memorandum of understanding with UK-based Natural Resources Group Chemical Engineering under which the latter will pump $1.3 billion into the Philippines' biofuels sector.

The companies are looking at building a 3.5 million mt/year biodiesel and a 350,000 mt/year ethanol plant in the country and will also invest in jatropha plantations (earlier post). PNOC-AFC also signed an agreement with South Korea's Samsung in September 2006 to set up an integrated jatropha plantation and biofuels project.

US firm E-Cane Fuel Corp. announced it will invest €111/US$150 million to put up a fully integrated ethanol processing facility in Central Luzon, with sugarcane as the main feedstock (previous post).

Japan's Marubeni has also announced plans to set up five ethanol plants in the Philippines and local firm San Carlos Bioenergy is already building a 120,000 liters/day ethanol plant in the country.

The Philippine Department of Agriculture also sealed an agreement with India-based bioenergy company Praj Industries to help develop the country's nascent biofuels industry. Under a Memorandum of Understanding both parties will team up for feedstock development and setting up biofuel production plants (more here).

According to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Japanese firm Toyo Engineering Corp. recently announced it is about to complete a feasibility study on an integrated coco methyl-ester (CME) manufacturing plant that it plans to put up in the Philippines' northern region of Ilocos. It is further looking at 600,000 hectares of coconut plantation (earlier post).

Existing coco-biodiesel production capacity in the country is 140 million liters/year from two major companies alone - Chemrez and Senbel Fine Chemicals. At least 10 other smaller producers are said to have registered with the DOE for accreditation.

Finally, Brazil has agreed to intensify cooperation in energy security, particularly in the development and use of biofuels, with the Philippines. The countries agreed to boost cooperation in the development and use of ethanol, biodiesel and biomass energy (more here).


Philippine Information Agency: PGMA welcomes proposed $250-million investment in biofuel facilities in RP - December 15, 2007.

Biopact: First comprehensive energy balance study reveals cassava is a highly efficient biofuel feedstock - April 18, 2007

Biopact: CIAT: cassava ethanol could benefit small farmers in South East Asia -
September 24, 2007

Biopact: Bionor to invest $200 million in jatropha plantations in the Philippines - December 3, 2007.

Biopact: CIAT: cassava ethanol could benefit small farmers in South East Asia - September 24, 2007

Biopact: First comprehensive energy balance study reveals cassava is a highly efficient biofuel feedstock - April 18, 2007

Biopact: Biofuels and renewables 'Country Attractiveness Indices' for Q1 2007 - May 24, 2007

Biopact: US tops Biofuels Country Attractiveness Indices for Q2 2007 - September 18, 2007

Biopact: Philippines in cooperation agreement with India's Praj Industries to develop biofuel sector - October 05, 2007

Biopact: Toyo Engineering eyes 600,000 hectares for coconut production in the Philippines - September 05, 2007

Biopact: Brazil and the Philippines to intensify cooperation on biofuels - August 31, 2007

Biopact: E-cane Fuel to invest US$150 million in ethanol plant in the Philippines - May 28, 2007

Biopact: Philippines in US$1.3 billion biofuel project with UK's NRG - May 23, 2007

Biopact: Philippine and Chinese company team up to build $ 30 million cassava ethanol plant in Sarangani - October 29, 2007


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