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    Spanish company Ferry Group is to invest €42/US$55.2 million in a project for the production of biomass fuel pellets in Bulgaria. The 3-year project consists of establishing plantations of paulownia trees near the city of Tran. Paulownia is a fast-growing tree used for the commercial production of fuel pellets. Dnevnik - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Hungary's BHD Hõerõmû Zrt. is to build a 35 billion Forint (€138/US$182 million) commercial biomass-fired power plant with a maximum output of 49.9 MW in Szerencs (northeast Hungary). Portfolio.hu - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Tonight at 9pm, BBC Two will be showing a program on geo-engineering techniques to 'save' the planet from global warming. Five of the world's top scientists propose five radical scientific inventions which could stop climate change dead in its tracks. The ideas include: a giant sunshade in space to filter out the sun's rays and help cool us down; forests of artificial trees that would breath in carbon dioxide and stop the green house effect and a fleet futuristic yachts that will shoot salt water into the clouds thickening them and cooling the planet. BBC News - Feb. 19, 2007.

    Archer Daniels Midland, the largest U.S. ethanol producer, is planning to open a biodiesel plant in Indonesia with Wilmar International Ltd. this year and a wholly owned biodiesel plant in Brazil before July, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The Brazil plant is expected to be the nation's largest, the paper said. Worldwide, the company projects a fourfold rise in biodiesel production over the next five years. ADM was not immediately available to comment. Reuters - Feb. 16, 2007.

    Finnish engineering firm Pöyry Oyj has been awarded contracts by San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. to provide services for the first bioethanol plant in the Philippines. The aggregate contract value is EUR 10 million. The plant is to be build in the Province of San Carlos on the north-eastern tip of Negros Island. The plant is expected to deliver 120,000 liters/day of bioethanol and 4 MW of excess power to the grid. Kauppalehti Online - Feb. 15, 2007.

    In order to reduce fuel costs, a Mukono-based flower farm which exports to Europe, is building its own biodiesel plant, based on using Jatropha curcas seeds. It estimates the fuel will cut production costs by up to 20%. New Vision (Kampala, Uganda) - Feb. 12, 2007.

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has decided to use 10% biodiesel in its fleet of public buses. The world's largest city is served by the Toei Bus System, which is used by some 570,000 people daily. Digital World Tokyo - Feb. 12, 2007.

    Fearing lack of electricity supply in South Africa and a price tag on CO2, WSP Group SA is investing in a biomass power plant that will replace coal in the Letaba Citrus juicing plant which is located in Tzaneen. Mining Weekly - Feb. 8, 2007.

    In what it calls an important addition to its global R&D capabilities, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) is to build a new bioenergy research center in Hamburg, Germany. World Grain - Feb. 5, 2007.

    EthaBlog's Henrique Oliveira interviews leading Brazilian biofuels consultant Marcelo Coelho who offers insights into the (foreign) investment dynamics in the sector, the history of Brazilian ethanol and the relationship between oil price trends and biofuels. EthaBlog - Feb. 2, 2007.

    The government of Taiwan has announced its renewable energy target: 12% of all energy should come from renewables by 2020. The plan is expected to revitalise Taiwan's agricultural sector and to boost its nascent biomass industry. China Post - Feb. 2, 2007.

    Production at Cantarell, the world's second biggest oil field, declined by 500,000 barrels or 25% last year. This virtual collapse is unfolding much faster than projections from Mexico's state-run oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos. Wall Street Journal - Jan. 30, 2007.

    Dubai-based and AIM listed Teejori Ltd. has entered into an agreement to invest €6 million to acquire a 16.7% interest in Bekon, which developed two proprietary technologies enabling dry-fermentation of biomass. Both technologies allow it to design, establish and operate biogas plants in a highly efficient way. Dry-Fermentation offers significant advantages to the existing widely used wet fermentation process of converting biomass to biogas. Ame Info - Jan. 22, 2007.

    Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited is to build a biofuel production plant in the tribal belt of Banswara, Rajasthan, India. The petroleum company has acquired 20,000 hectares of low value land in the district, which it plans to commit to growing jatropha and other biofuel crops. The company's chairman said HPCL was also looking for similar wasteland in the state of Chhattisgarh. Zee News - Jan. 15, 2007.

    The Zimbabwean national police begins planting jatropha for a pilot project that must result in a daily production of 1000 liters of biodiesel. The Herald (Harare), Via AllAfrica - Jan. 12, 2007.

    In order to meet its Kyoto obligations and to cut dependence on oil, Japan has started importing biofuels from Brazil and elsewhere. And even though the country has limited local bioenergy potential, its Agriculture Ministry will begin a search for natural resources, including farm products and their residues, that can be used to make biofuels in Japan. To this end, studies will be conducted at 900 locations nationwide over a three-year period. The Japan Times - Jan. 12, 2007.

    Chrysler's chief economist Van Jolissaint has launched an arrogant attack on "quasi-hysterical Europeans" and their attitudes to global warming, calling the Stern Review 'dubious'. The remarks illustrate the yawning gap between opinions on climate change among Europeans and Americans, but they also strengthen the view that announcements by US car makers and legislators about the development of green vehicles are nothing more than window dressing. Today, the EU announced its comprehensive energy policy for the 21st century, with climate change at the center of it. BBC News - Jan. 10, 2007.

    The new Canadian government is investing $840,000 into BioMatera Inc. a biotech company that develops industrial biopolymers (such as PHA) that have wide-scale applications in the plastics, farmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Plant-based biopolymers such as PHA are biodegradable and renewable. Government of Canada - Jan. 9, 2007.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Green car sales in Sweden seen quadrupling by 2012

Sweden is rapidly becoming a world leader in green mobility and energy. It is experimenting with all possible renewables and fuel sourcing strategies, especially when it comes to the transport sector. Sweden is not only developing a domestic biofuels industry, it is also one of the leading European importers of ethanol from the Global South. Moreover, Sweden is investing in African countries, like Mozambique (a future biofuel super power - earlier post), to create its own supply of ethanol, while ensuring that Mozambican energy farmers get a good deal out of it (earlier post).

Furthermore, the country heads efforts in getting non-liquid biofuels - such as biogas made from wood chips (earlier post) - into the tank of consumers. This requires the creation of a new infrastructure and high-tech biofuel production facilities, besides smart policies (such as 'greenly corrected' congestion charges) and a pool of intelligent consumers. Finally, swedish car manufacturers such as Volvo and Saab dare to offer new technologies to progressive and conscious buyers, with success.

In short, in Sweden, all forces that are needed to create a green mobility paradigm are cooperating and taking concrete action.

Industry observers told an auto-magazine that, because of this concerted effort, Swedish flex-fuel and other green car sales could nearly quadruple by 2010-2012. The market could reach 150,000 units, up from a 40,000-unit forecast for 2006. That’s half of the overall Swedish car market, which is expected to grow to 300,000 units in 2010 from a 285,000-unit forecast this year.

The government is considering introducing a series of measures to boost the green car trade, already heavily subsidised, this month, according to Mattias Goldmann, a spokesman for the Swedish Association of Green Motorists. "We don't know exactly what the government will do but we know there will be new incentives," Goldmann said.

Sweden is leading Europe's biofuels market (both in meeting blending targets and developing retail infrastructure) as it moves to stay at the "forefront" of Europe's green movement. Swedes pay no parking or congestion charges to drive flex-fuel, biogas, hybrid or small cars emitting less than 120 grams of CO2 per kilometre, whereas 'dirty drivers' do. They also get a significant tax credit on models purchased for work:
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On top of these incentives, the state could introduce a €1,100 tax credit for flex-fuel purchases or half that credit and double it to €3,300 for higher-priced biogas models.

Goldmann said the government is likely to double the biogas incentives to grow the market, especially after Volvo said it would scrap its biogas line due to slumping demand.

"The incentives are too small to make biogas worth it and we can't allow Volvo, a national car maker, to discontinue production," he noted. A spokesman for the Swedish Automobile Association is confident the subsidies will rise.

However, he doubts the market will grow to 160,000 units without further government and business action.

For one thing, ethanol costs 2% more than petrol and prices must come down to woo consumers to buy flex-fuel cars which account for over 70% of the market and could make up even more in future, the spokesman said. Moreover, the number of models must rise from 15 now (versus over 100 for petrol) and the market to tweak petrol cars to run on biofuel must develop.

"You can convert petrol models to flex-fuel for just €1,000," the spokesman noted, adding that the government will introduce a regulatory framework for this market in coming months.

The Saab 9-5 Biopower is Sweden's best-selling flex-fuel car. The Ford Focus and Volvo V50 are second and third respectively, Bert said.

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