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    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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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Nepal can cut carbon emissions by 6 million tonnes through rural biogas systems

Nepal can avoid the release of over six million tonnes of carbon emissions in the next five years through the large-scale use of biogas, according to climate change experts. Use of the low tech biofuel allows poor developing countries like Nepal to do their part in the battle against global warming. Furthermore, a switch to biogas in rural areas allows countries to trade carbon credits. Nepal's experience proves the credits come at highly competitive prices.

Biogas is a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide produced by fermenting biomass. Most often organic waste matter like animal manure, household waste and municipal solid waste is used, even though increasingly dedicated energy crops are fed to anaerobic digesters as single subtrate or are co-digested with other feedstocks.

In Nepal, biogas systems are low tech, simple devices: circular pits filled with cow dung. Constructed near to people's homes, the gas they produce is piped to where the cooking is done.

Nearly 85% of Nepal's 27 million people live in rural areas and around 95% of the rural population burn traditional and unsustainably harvested fuels such as wood and agro-waste. These fuels cause severe indoor smoke pollution - a 'killer in the kitchen' claiming the lives of an estimated 1.2 million women and children each year (earlier post). Moreover, the fuels are inefficiently used: only 5 to 10 percent of the energy contained in them is captured.

Biogas systems are both cleaner and more efficient. They were first introduced in Nepal in the late 1950s and thousands of families now use them. The carbon emissions thus saved in Nepal may be small in comparison to global emissions, but this is an example of how poor countries like Nepal can help combat global warming.

Sandeep Chamling Rai, climate change adviser to the Nepal chapter of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), says Nepal's biogas use has received recognition on a global scale and hopefully the country's contribution will be given more prominence.

Rai explained that every biogas system in Nepal avoids nearly 7.5 tonnes of carbon emissions per year. Poor Nepalese farmers and low-income rural families use the systems most.

Biogas partnership

Over 173,000 Nepali households now have biogas systems thanks to the Biogas Sector Partnership (BSP), the government's Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) and financial and technical assistance from the Dutch aid agency SNV (previous post):
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These agencies pay over half of the US$ 500 cost of building a biogas system and buying a gas cooker. Today, Nepal has the world's highest number of biogas systems per capita, outnumbering China and India, according to BSP.

Biogas has turned into an indispensable part of Nepal's efforts to mitigate global warming, according to WWF-Nepal.

Saroj Rai, executive director of BSP, says biogas has already replaced the use of wood in tens of thousands of households and this allows researchers to easily see how much it has helped reduce carbon emissions.

Carbon trading benefits
In January 2007 Nepal started trading carbon emissions with the World Bank at the rate of just US$7 per tonne, and recently the AEPC signed a deal with the Bank to sell carbon emissions at $10.25 per tonne, according to WWF-Nepal. European carbon prices currently stand at around $33.12 (€22.70) per tonne.

Nepal is already earning over $ 600,000 per year through its voluntary emissions reduction (VER), which unlike the Compulsory Emission Reduction (CER) of the Kyoto Protocol is not bound by any UN convention, according to the BSP.

The government has already done its job of preparing a project design document and by 2012, Nepal will have traded a huge amount of carbon, said Batu Krishna Upreti, under-secretary in the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Picture: low tech biogas pit in Nepal, using household waste as a substrate. Credit: IRIN.

IRIN News: Nepal: Biogas technology beginning to make its mark - December 6, 2007.

Biopact: World Bank to provide $5 million for biogas plants in rural Nepal - October 05, 2007

Biopact: Small CDM projects bring cash to Nepal: biogas for rural households - May 06, 2007

Biopact: WHO: indoor air pollution takes heavy toll on health in the developing world - May 01, 2007


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