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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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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Canada announces $740,000 for Nova Scotia biofuels and ecological projects

Canada's Nova Scotia farmers will benefit from $740,000 in funding for six important projects studying biofuels and environmental farm practices. The announcement was made at the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture's Annual General Meeting by Guy Lauzon, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, on behalf of the Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board.

Five Nova Scotia projects totalling $228,093 are being funded under the Biofuels Opportunities for Producers Initiative (BOPI), which is administered by Agri-Futures Nova Scotia. These projects aim to boost alternative fuel production and open up market opportunities for farmers. The feasibility studies will help determine the potential of alternative fuel production in Nova Scotia.

The BOPI is a two-year $20 million commitment by the Government of Canada designed to provide farmers and rural communities with opportunities to participate in, and benefit from, increased Canadian biofuel production (earlier post).

BOPI is part of the government's strategy to reach a target of increasing the average renewable content in all Canadian transportation fuel to five per cent by 2010 and intent to regulate a two per cent requirement for renewable content in diesel fuel and heating oil by 2012.

The following five projects will contribute to a healthier environment in the province while creating new market opportunities for farmers:
  1. $78,000 to ACA Cooperative to produce biodiesel from poultry litter and poultry processing waste;
  2. $56,000 to Fundy Biofuels Inc. for an ethanol marketing study;
  3. $45,000 to West Nova Agro-Commodities Ltd. for an assessment and business plan on revenue streams for waste generated by biofuels production in the use of a variety of waste in the Annapolis Valley;
  4. $43,750 to L and M Farm Holdings to study the feasibility of a 200,000 litre/year ethanol plant using carrot and potato waste, oat, barley and corn grains;
  5. $5,343 to SF Rendering to determine the capital costs to process Atlantic-produced canola into bio-diesel.
All five BOPI projects are delivered by Agri-Futures Nova Scotia.

The Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture will receive more than $511,000 for an Ecological Goods and Services (EG&S) pilot project. The Federation will establish a value for agri-environmental activities, such as the development of wetlands, which will benefit both farmers and the community. The project will also determine a potential payment to farmers who undertake these activities to help offset costs and encourage more environmental action:
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Nova Scotia's agriculture industry has invested in and has become the leader in environmental farm planning initiatives in Canada. This project will further demonstrate the benefits of that investment and will expand the adoption of best management practices. - Karen Casey, Member of the Legislative Assembly
The 'Nova Scotia Ecological Goods and Services Pilot Project' is based on 'Ecological Goods and Services' (EG&S) which are the positive environmental benefits that Canadians derive from healthy ecosystems, including clean water and air, and enhanced biodiversity. Agriculture is both a beneficiary and a provider of EG&S. For example, the viability of farming depends on ecosystem processes like soil renewal, climate regulation, and precipitation. At the same time, well-managed agricultural lands can provide benefits to broader society such as the protection of fish and wildlife habitat, preservation of scenic views, and purification of air and water through natural processes.

In Nova Scotia, the new funds will go to the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture to determine a value for environmental activities and assign a potential payment for farmers undertaking these activities. It is one of the eight EG&S pilot projects being carried out across the country that will assist in measuring the feasibility of various approaches to environmental stewardship.

Specifically, this project will:
  • Survey Nova Scotia's farming community to assess costs and benefits and determine potential impact on farmers;
  • Enhance the St. Andrews River watershed through delivery of EG&S by all farms within the watershed; and
  • Assess the benefits of liming agricultural lands adjacent to watershed waterways.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is working with provincial and territorial governments to develop a framework for policies that are good for agriculture and that provide environmental benefits for all Canadians. Key elements of this work include research and pilot projects supported through the Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food (ACAAF) program. These pilot projects will help AAFC and its provincial and territorial partners build a common understanding necessary in order to develop effective policies.

Last spring the Prime Minister announced a $225 million investment in a national campaign to acquire and preserve ecologically sensitive land. Recognized conservation groups will be identified to work towards this common goal. In addition, tax exemptions announced during Budget 2006 for donations of ecologically sensitive lands provide further incentives for Canadians to help preserve our environment.

The pilot project is receiving in-kind support from the Nova Scotia Departments of Agriculture and the Environment, the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the Town of Stewiacke and the St. Andrews Watershed Advisory Committee.

According to Frazer Hunter, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, it is widely recognized that certain public objectives such as enhancement and protection of biodiversity, environmental protection, leisure and even the aesthetics of the landscape can and do profit from the agricultural industry.
This government is standing up for farmers in Nova Scotia and across Canada by making sure they can get in on the ground floor of the emerging biofuels industry. We also recognize farmers as important stewards of our environment. - Parliamentary Secretary Lauzon.
Jean Ward, Chair of Agri-Futures Nova Scotia, says the goal is to help these five local firms study new and interesting ways to produce biofuels in their 'own back yards'. There are a lot of clever ideas out there just waiting to be harnessed, he added.

Agriculture and Agrifood Canada: Government of Canada announces $740,000 for Nova Scotia biofuels and ecological projects - November 30, 2007.

Biofuels Opportunities for Producers Initiative (BOPI).

Biopact: Canada's government invests $1 million in 12 biofuel projects in Quebec - August 22, 2007


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