<body> -------------------
Contact Us       Consulting       Projects       Our Goals       About Us
home / Archive
Nature Blog Network

    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.

Creative Commons License

Monday, February 19, 2007

Going negative: carbon-burial test will monitor leaks

In the future will be covering advances in so-called 'carbon capture and storage' (CCS) technologies and projects under the heading "Going negative". We do so because CCS allows for the creation of a radical carbon negative energy system, namely 'Bio-Energy with Carbon Storage' (BECS). CCS technologies are being developed both by the coal and by the oil & gas industry, as a way of sequestring carbon emissions into geological formations, such as aquifers, salt tables or depleted gas fields. If the technique becomes reliable, it can be coupled to bioenergy production in a system that delivers energy while taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

If implemented as a geo-engineering strategy, scientists think BECS can take us back to pre-industrial CO2 levels in a matter of a few decades (earlier post). Biomass crops would be planted at strategic locations around the globe - preferrably in the (sub)tropics -, where they would suck CO2 out of the atmosphere. The crops would then be used as a feedstock for the production of bio-energy (they can be burned in coal and gas plants), after which CCS techniques inject the emissions from the combustion of the crops into a geological formation underground, making the system carbon negative.

Earlier we reported on a CCS project in the French Pyrénées (earlier post), and on new storage locations and storage media but noted that there are still concerns about leakage risks (earlier post). Before we start using costly CCS on a large scale, we must be certain that the greenhouse gases do not escape the geological formations they are stored in.

The largest carbon burial experiment in the world is contributing precisely to analysing this risk. The project is located in Otway Basin, on the coast of southern Australia, where drilling of a 2100-metre well has begun (see picture, click to enlarge). The experiment promises the most comprehensive monitoring for leaks to date.

If all goes well, researchers from the Canberra-based Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC) will start injecting carbon dioxide into the new well in July. They will start by extracting CO2 from a nearby natural geological reservoir and compressing it into a "supercritical fluid" – a gas-liquid hybrid. This will be injected via the new well into a sandstone reservoir (this animated graphic demonstrates the process).

The reservoir is shaped liked an upside-down saucer that is partially-filled with methane gas, and covered by a series of impermeable rock layers. Over the following six to nine months, 100,000 tonnes of supercritical CO2 will be injected:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

“We plan to demonstrate that the CO2 will move into the reservoir as predicted,” says Kevin Dodds of CO2CRC and CSIRO Petroleum in Perth. The Otway Basin Pilot Project will also be the most intensely monitored carbon burial project so far in the hopes of demonstrating that CO2 can be safely and securely kept underground.
Green light

“We’re not going to [use carbon burial] unless my Dad and yours believe that it’s going to work," says geologist of Susan Hovorka, at the University of Texas at Austin, US. "We need to lay our cards face up, and let the public know what is going on down there. Otway should be a good opportunity to do this.“ Hovorka leads a team running the Frio Brine carbon burial experiment in Texas, and was a member of the team that reviewed the Otway Basin Project for the International Energy Agency.

Carbon burial – or geosequestration – is one of several techniques being developed to reduce the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere when coal, oil, or gas are burned (see also $25 million prize for greenhouse gas removal). The gas, which causes global warming, would be captured from power plants and then stored underground.

The idea received a significant legal boost on 10 February when an international law came into force allowing the greenhouse gas to be buried beneath the sea floor (see Green light for carbon burial).
Flushing out

Currently, there are several commercial carbon burial projects around the world. The biggest, in the North Sea’s Sleipner gas field, stores one million tons of CO2 each year in an underground sandstone formation.

Sliepner saves Norwegian oil company Statoil carbon taxes, and cuts Norway’s annual output of greenhouse gases. But the aim of most commercial projects is to use CO2 to push out more oil, rather than to find a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and monitoring for leakage is minimal.

In contrast, the Otway Basin experiment involves intensive monitoring of levels of CO2 in soil, water and air. The project includes adding tracers to the injected CO2 to enable researchers to identify whether the detected gas is from vegetation, natural underground sources or from the CO2 store, says David Etheridge, an atmospheric scientist at CSIRO in Aspendale near Melbourne, Australia.
Clean fresh air

The location of the Otway Basin Project is an advantage because air measurements can be made while prevailing winds bring clean air from the Southern Ocean, uncontaminated by industrial or natural sources of CO2.

“There is no CO2 source out there. It’s a lot different to what you have in Texas with CO2 sources all around from off-shore oil and drilling, shipping and cities,” says Hovorka.

Carbon burial is mostly needed for coal-fired power stations, which account for about a quarter of global CO2 emissions, but obstacles beyond remain to be overcome. These include reducing the cost of the technologies that capture CO2 from power stations, and testing a variety of geological sites for their suitability for carbon burial.

Peter Cook, CO2CRC chief executive, adds: “We need a policy and pricing environment that will encourage people to use the technology.”

Article continues

Maui invests US$61 million in biofuel project aimed at green electricity production

Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) and BlueEarth Biofuels LLC announced that they will build a US$61/€46.4 million biodiesel refinery at Maui island's Waena power station site, with Maui Electric Co. (MECO) being the initial customer.

MECO's goal is to get all of the company’s Maalaea utility power generators off petroleum. The BlueEarth plan calls for straight burning imported palm oil, but HECO will contribute all of its half of the profits to a nonprofit public trust that will encourage the growth of local fuel crops. Candidate crops include palm oil, jatropha, kukui or coconut, the oils of which will be transesterified into biodiesel. Instead of using methanol for the production of biodiesel, locally produced ethanol will be used.

Production of the biofuel should begin in 2009. The first phase output target is 40 million gallons (151 million liters) of biodiesel per year. MECO consumed about 73 million gallons (276 million liters) last year.

Eventually, by phase three, the Waena refinery could produce 120 million gallons (454 million liters) in 2011, and there are plans to use it at Hawaiian Electric plants on Oahu and Hawaiian Electric Light plants on the Big Island.

Aside from general environmental, economic and energy security concerns, at least three factors pushed HECO and MECO towards their decision to use biofuels instead of fossil fuels:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Firstly, in 2000, the state Department of Health fined MECO for Clean Air Act violations from two of its large 12.5 MW diesel generators at Maalaea. The problem was opacity (smoke) at startup and shutdown, and the use of a small amount of biodiesel solved it.

Secondly, the state renewable energy policy that mandates electric utilities to get at least 20 percent of their power from renewables by 2020.

Finaly, a condition on the Waena power station lot requires at least half of its allowable 240 megawatts of capacity to come from renewable sources.

Current power generation on Maui from all sources – Maui Electric’s Kahului and Maalaea plants, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.’s Puunene Mill, the Kaheawa Wind and several small co-generation operators – is in the neighborhood of 240 MW. There was no requirement to start out with renewables at Waena, and MECO has been putting off developing the site to avoid the high capital costs that will include site preparation as well as installation of infrastructure.

The initial investment in a combined cycle petroleum-fueled unit – like the latest units at Maalaea – would be several hundred million dollars.

When the county approved zoning for the Waena site, there were no specific renewable sources named, but solar was one possibility. Reinhardt believes using 15 acres of the 60-acre lot for a biodiesel refinery comes within the conditions, although MECO is not adding any capacity. The lot, still in cane, is across Pulehu Road from the Central Maui Landfill.

Palm oil critics
Palm oil has its own critics. Commercial palm oil plantations were encouraged after World War II by the United Nations to provide edible fats for poor people in the tropics. This was very successful.

The palm oil plantations also became a source of oil for margarine makers and commercial bakeries in rich countries, until health fears over transfats reduced that market. Meanwhile, the search for alternatives to petroleum led not only to conversion of palm oil grown for food to oil for fuel, but to rapid expansion of palm plantations into virgin rainforests in South Pacific and Southeast Asian countries.

Reinhardt said he is aware of that criticism, and the HECO-BlueEarth joint venture will avoid obtaining oil from sources “that ravage the forest.”

The refinery is expected to require about 100 construction workers to build and about 40 workers to operate.

Reinhardt said the refinery lease, fuel agreement and generators at Waena will require approval of the state Public Utilities Commission. He said he expects the applications for the developments will be filed “soon” for start of the facility by 2009.

It will require “minimal” amounts of water and among its residual products will be ethylene. Ethylene is inflammable, and although it could not be used in diesel generators, Reinhardt said there might be enough to run a small generator.

Local ethanol for biodiesel production
The transesterification of vegetable oils can be achieved by using ethanol instead of methanol, and the hope is that local producers can supply that. HC&S has been considering using its molasses as feedstock for an ethanol plant, but no decision about that has been made.

The state now requires ethanol to be blended into gasoline. The intention was to encourage a locally-produced, renewable fuel, but so far all of the ethanol has to be imported. The state imports most of its energy, with geothermal on the Big Island, bagasse on Maui and wind turbines at several sites the primary alternative sources of electricity in the islands.

Maui is also home of the country’s first biodiesel plant using waste cooking oil, the Pacific Biodiesel facility headed by diesel engineer Bob King, who developed the technology for utilizing used cooking oil. Other biodiesel makers, including BlueEarth, rely on oil that is not contaminated by food wastes.

Reinhardt said the decision to go with BlueEarth was not a reflection on Pacific Biodiesel. “I can’t say enough about Pacific Biodiesel. This is not to compete with them,” he said. Pacific Biodiesel has been building smaller plants than BlueEarth, on the order of 5 million gallons output. MECO has used Pacific Biodiesel fuel to help solve a smoke problem at Maalaea.

Bob Wellington, a co-managing partner of BlueEarth, said, “BlueEarth will work diligently with other local biodiesel and ethanol producers to encourage increased local biofuels production, greater efficiency and lower pricing.

“Potentially, shared raw materials purchasing, joint land use, and using locally produced ethanol and methanol in our own process are a few of the ways we can further stimulate the local biofuels industry. We intend this to be a win-win for Maui, Hawaii and our company.”

The joint venture between BlueEarth and HECO, BlueEarth Maui Biofuels LLC, is seeking legislative approval to raise $59 million in special purpose revenue bonds. Senate Bill 1718 to authorize the bonds has passed second reading and is pending in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Maui Sen. Roz Baker.

Revenues bonds would benefit the business by piggybacking on the state’s lower borrowing costs, but the company is obligated to pay off the bond from its revenues. The amount of anticipated profit was not revealed, but HECO’s share will go into a Biofuels Public Trust that will fund development of Hawaii’s biocrop agricultural infrastructure. “HECO is willing to give up our profits in this bold venture because, in the long run, it is good for our company and good for Hawaii to promote clean, green, local renewable energy here,” HECO President Mike May said.

Although MECO’s participation will be as a buyer, Reinhardt said there would be “little or no” impact on customer rates, at least initially. But as MECO is able to rely on biodiesel, electricity rates will be less influenced by the price of a barrel of oil and more by the price for the alternative fuel. MECO will lease the 15 acres to BlueEarth at fair market rates. Since the cost of Waena is built into Maui’s electric rate base, the rental income will exert a small downward effect when the PUC calculates consumer rates.

Maez said the plant will seek to hire on Maui, with the initial facility expected to require 40 workers and an expanded plant to require up to 100 permanent positions. “We want Maui people to work at the plant,” he said.

Article continues

Economic globalisation and climate change: UK's true emissions 7 times higher than official estimate - report

Official greenhouse gas figures hugely underestimate Britain's real contribution to climate change, a report by Christian Aid concludes. The organisation says adding in emissions from UK-funded operations in other countries would raise the UK's share of the global total from 2% to about 15%. Each year, Britain creates 200 million extra tonnes of greenhouse gases which it is not declaring.

British companies wanted globalisation, Christian Aid says, and must take responsibility for the associated emissions. The charity is calling on the UK government to ensure that companies measure their emissions thoroughly.
"Our research reveals a truly staggering quantity of unreported carbon dioxide is emitted around the world by the top 100 companies on the London Stock Exchange. The government should now oblige companies to report their emissions properly. In our view, this is a litmus test of how serious they are about climate change." - Andrew Pendleton, Christian Aid's senior climate change analyst.
Working with the environmental research company Trucost, Christian Aid attempted to calculate emissions associated with FTSE-100 companies. The report, entitled Coming Clean: Revealing UK's True Carbon Footprint [*.pdf], says that
"While only 2.13% of the world's CO2 emissions emanate from the UK's domestic economy through the process of globalisation, CO2 is emitted around the world on Britain's behalf, in China, India, Africa and elsewhere."

"Britain's apparently light carbon footprint rapidly begins to assume a much greater profile when worldwide investments made with British money, through the mighty City of London, are taken into account."
Not everyone would agree with the organisation's conclusion, but its argument is that Britain benefits from those investments, either by bringing cheap goods to the UK or by creating profits which flow back into the British economy, so the emissions ought at least to be accounted for within Britain. Using this methodology, the UK would account for between 12% and 15% of the global total.

Disclosure sought
Researchers also found that few companies are fully aware of their own emissions, even those relating directly to activities such as heating their buildings and running vehicles. The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which aims to persuade companies to release data on emissions, has recorded a gradual rise in the numbers prepared to make their figures public:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

But Trucost found that only 16 of the FTSE 100 report emissions according to the internationally recognised Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP).

"Some of the largest companies are beginning to get it, and you have companies like Marks and Spencer and Tesco and BSkyB all beginning to seek leadership positions," said Trucost's head of corporate services Neil McIndoe.

"Almost all of them have environmental policies, and sometimes they're very similar to each other, basically because they copy and paste the wording from the website of the one next door.

"But across the FTSE 100, you're lucky if you can get 20% of companies to tell you anything in numbers about the environment."

Trucost and Christian Aid argue that full disclosure is essential to the proper functioning of a global carbon market, which according to the forum of global legislators meeting in Washington last week is essential if greenhouse emissions are to be constrained.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says it has been actively involved in supporting the work of the Carbon Disclosure Project.

A spokesman said: "We facilitated the distribution of the CDP questionnaire to FTSE companies in 2006, so as to assist investors in attaining more climate-related information on UK plc than before.

"The last CDP round generated the highest-ever response rate in 2006, with 72%, or 360, of the FT500 companies responding, up from 47% of companies that responded in 2003."

Image: Front cover of Coming clean: revealing UK's true carbon footprint. Poor people in developing countries are suffering the most from climate change.

More information:
Christian Aid: Coming clean: revealing UK's true carbon footprint - Feb 19, 2007.
Environmental research firm Trucost website.
The Carbon Disclosure Project website.
Christian Today: Britain's Greenhouse Gas Contribution 7 Times Higher Than Estimated - Feb. 19, 2007.
BBCNews: Show 'hidden emissions', UK urged - Feb. 19, 2007.
Metro: Britain's climate change cover-up - Feb. 18, 2007.

Article continues

Biogas as an automotive fuel to feature prominently at the Geneva Motor Show

Last year's biogas boom in Europe is set to continue, with analysts expecting 2007 to become the year the green gas makes its definite breakthrough and reaches a wider public (earlier post). The first sign of this evolution is already here: biogas and natural gas powered vehicles are the main attraction of the 77th Geneva Motor Show, which is to take place in March.

Biogas or biomethane can be produced via the anaerobic fermentation of a wide range of organic feedstocks: municipal, industrial or agricultural waste, but also from dedicated energy crops. In Europe, specially bred biogas maize varieties, sorghum and sudan grass, or more exotic types of grass are already being used on a large scale or in experimental projects.

Analyses show that the gas has a very strong energy balance (earlier post), making it more efficient than any other biofuel, including cellulosic ethanol. One hectare of a field of biogas maize gets an average CNG-capable car to travel 100,000 kilometers (approximately 25,000 miles per acre) (earlier post). Biogas is also the cleanest of the biofuels, in that its production and distribution releases low amounts greenhouse gases.

The production potential in Europe is large: studies differ on how much natural gas it can replace, but the most comprenehsive analysis so far estimates that biogas can replace all of Europe's natural gas imports from Russia by 2020 (earlier post).

Biogas is becoming increasingly popular as an automotive fuel. After purification to natural gas grade standards, the methane it contains is fed into the natural gas grid (earlier post), and arrives at natural gas filling stations, where CNG capable vehicles get their fuel. The sales of these vehicles are seeing a continuous increase in Europe as more and more automakers offer NG models. The trend is strengthened as countries and companies increase efforts to build biogas filling stations (earlier post).

Biogas and natural gas in Geneva
To increase its appeal further, the green gas will feature prominently [*German] at the Geneva Motor Show. Gasmobil AG, the Swiss technology center which promotes the use of natural gas and biogas as an automotive fuel, is the main sponsor of the event.

The organisation's experts will inform visitors of the many benefits of using biogas as an auto fuel and will have a hall devoted to showing the latest car models capable of using the renewable fuel. Most of the models are 'bi-fuel', meaning they can handle both biogas/natural gas and petrol. One of them can even handle three different types of fuel. These cars include:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The Fiat Panda Panda 1.2 Natural Power
The Fiat Multipla Multi-Eco (tri-fuel: petrol, liquid biofuel and biogas/natural gas) (earlier post).
The Ford Focus Turnier 1.6i VCT GREENPOWER
The Citroën C3 1.4 GNV
The Mercedes Benz E200 Kompressor NGT (see image, click to enlarge)
The Opel Zafira 1.6 CNG
The VW Touran 2.0 EcoFuel

These cars (more information) cover all segments, from small urban vehicles, to large family vans and luxury cars.

In Switzerland, where biogas and natural gas are increasingly used, some 22 models are now available, and 7 models of delivery vans and small buses.

Currently there are 85 biogas and natural gas filling stations in Switzerland. By the end of the year, their number will have increased to 100.

More information:
Gasmobil Ag: Erdgas-Autos immer mehr im Trend - Feb. 16, 2007.
Erdgasfahren.ch: Erdgasfahrzeuge bei gasmobil am 77. Internationalen Auto-Salon Genf 8.-18. März 2007

Article continues

Eastern Cape province invests €107 million into biofuels project

As South Africa declares biofuels a 'strategic sector', the government of the country's Eastern Cape province has unveiled a 1 billion Rand (€107/US$140.6 million) investment plan for a biodiesel and ethanol project in the Transkei region that could result in 70,000 hectares of canola (rapeseed) and sugar beet being planted and thousands of jobs being created. The crops will be planted on communal land.

Eastern Cape Premier Nosimo Balindlela said in her recent state of the province address that the province had been selected as the national pilot for the country's bioenergy initiative (earlier post). According to Balindlela, the project has the potential to create aournd 21,000 direct and indirect job opportunities.

Speaking at a media conference earlier, Agriculture MEC Gugile Nkwinti said that the 1 billion Rand investment included a plant in the East London industrial development zone that would be erected by a German investor with whom negotiations were now under way. He said the German investor was “ready to build the plant” and the matter would be taken further at a meeting on February 26. Nkwinti said that in the first phase, 20 000 hectares of canola would be planted:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

He said there had unfortunately been a delay in ordering seed from Australia because a national framework for the biofuels industry had not been in place.

This would now take place next year, he said, adding that he wanted an Eastern Cape strategy developed “so that we do not delay”.

Communal land
Nkwinti stressed that planting would take place on communal land and the aim was to establish joint ventures that would benefit some of the villages. With regard to the sugar beet project, Nkwinti said the initial plan had been to grow sugar beet for export, but a feasibility study was now looking at the possibility of converting sugar beet to ethanol.

This was a joint venture with the Industrial Development Corporation, Sugarbeet SA and the national government following the decision to declare biofuels a strategic industry.

He said this decision had been taken in October last year and a decision on whether to proceed with the project would be taken next month. The main plant would be in Cradock as had been initially envisaged, with smaller plants in other parts of the province.

Article continues