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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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Monday, December 17, 2007

Total and Indonesia sign a MOU on CO2 capture and storage: towards carbon negative bioenergy?

Total announces the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding between Total E&P Indonesia and the Indonesian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources on access to data on carbon capture and storage (CCS), on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference. Under the agreement, Indonesia’s Agency of Research and Development for Energy and Mineral Resources will be allowed to access to important data from Total’s pilot project which is being implemented near Lacq in the South West of France (earlier post).

The information is important because CCS techniques can be coupled to biofuels and bioenergy production, to yield 'negative emissions' energy. However, Biopact recently warned that if forest-rich developing countries, like Indonesia, apply CCS to bioenergy, the scheme could limit the feasibility of initiatives aimed at 'reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries' (REDD), because such 'bio-energy with carbon storage' (BECS) schemes would sequester far more CO2 than a standing forest.

In this particular case, Indonesia could decide to produce large amounts of biohydrogen, biogas, synthetic natural gas from biomass, or bio-electricity from locally grown energy crops, sequester part or all of the CO2 in geological formations such as depleted oil and gas fields, sell the energy and bank in on the carbon credits. In some production pathways, BECS would be significantly less costly than CCS applied to fossil fuels, because gas capture would be far easier (notably in the case of microbial biohydrogen and biomethane obtained from anaerobic fermentation). To give an idea of the amount of 'negative emissions' that can be generated by BECS systems: when biomass (eucalyptus, acacia) is burned in an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) plant, and the CO2 captured and stored, it can generate electricity with minus 1000 grams of CO2/kWh. All other renewables have a positive balance: +30 to +100 gCO2/kWh for wind, biomass without CCS, and solar, and up to +850 gCO2/kWh for a coal-fired power plant (earlier post and references there).

Renewables, bioenergy without CCS and nuclear power are called 'carbon neutral' because they add negligible amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere. But only biomass based systems coupled to CCS can generate 'negative emissions' and allow us to take CO2 out of the atmosphere (schematic, click to enlarge). Scientists have calculated that if BECS systems were to replace coal on a large ('geoengineering') scale, atmospheric CO2 levels could be brought back to pre-industrial levels by mid-century. In short, bioenergy with CCS is the most radical tool in the fight against climate change.

The threat of BECS to REDD remains conceptual, because the technology is in an experimental stage and capital intensive. However, Indonesia has a large existing natural gas and oil infrastructure, and, in a scenario of high energy and carbon prices, it could decide in the future to utilize this infrastructure to experiment with such BECS systems based on biomass grown on forest land. Total is now giving Indonesia access to its knowledge on CCS technologies, so the threat comes one step closer.

Total's project in the French Pyrénées, one of the first in the world to include the whole chain from combustion to CO2 geological storage, is primarily intended to prove the technical feasibility of an integrated carbon capture and storage scheme. It should enable the company to contribute to the fight against global warming, and provide an efficient solution to help limiting the footprint of Total’s activities in Exploration and Production, Refining and Chemicals.

The project in Lacq, which leverages a technique considered among the most promising in the fight against climate change, calls for up to 150,000 metric tons of CO2 to be injected into a depleted natural gas field in Rousse (Pyrénées) over a period of two years as from end-2008. The first link in the chain is a steam production unit at the Lacq gas processing plant. Oxygen will be used for combustion rather than air to obtain a more concentrated CO2 stream that will be easier to capture:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Once purified, the CO2 will be compressed and conveyed via pipeline to the depleted Rousse field, 30 kilometres from Lacq, where it will be injected through an existing well into a rock formation 4,500 metres under ground (top schematic, click to enlarge).

Under the new MOU Indonesia will be able to get access to the experimental data emerging from the trials in France, and develop its own technical and economical understanding of such a CO2 storage scheme, especially concerning the geological aspects. In turn, this may assist the Indonesian Government to establish an appropriate regulatory framework for similar projects that may be proposed in Indonesia.

Present in Indonesia since 1968, Total is the country’s leading gas producer. Production has grown steadily since 1999, and the Group operates nearly 2.6 billion cubic feet per day of gas production from the Mahakam block. Output should be maintained at this level at least through the early years of the next decade particularly thanks to Sisi-Nubi’s production. The Mahakam block is also one of the country’s top-tier oil and condensate producer, with output of nearly 90,000 barrels per day.

Total’s operated production in Indonesia supplies the domestic market and approximately 80% of the feed gas for the Bontang liquefaction plant, one of the largest worldwide with a capacity of more than 22 Mt/y, for exports to Japan, Korea and Taiwan, providing to these countries a source of energy more environment friendly than oil or coal.

Total: Total and Indonesia Sign a Memorandum of Understanding on CO2 Capture and Storage - December 17, 2007.

Mongabay: Carbon-negative bioenergy to cut global warming could drive deforestation:
An interview on BECS with Biopact's Laurens Rademakers
- November 6, 2007.

Biopact: Total launches the first integrated CO2 capture and geological sequestration project in a depleted natural gas field - February 12, 2007

On carbon-negative bioenergy, see:
And the introductions at the Abrupt Climate Change Strategy Group.


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