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    Abraaj, a Dubai-based firm, has bought the company Egyptian Fertilizers in order to benefit from rising demand for crops used to make biofuels. The Abraaj acquisition of all the shares of Egyptian Fertilizers values the company based in Suez at US$1.41 billion. Egyptian Fertilizers produces about 1.25 million tons a year of urea, a nitrogen-rich crystal used to enrich soils. The company plans to expand its production capacity by as much as 20 percent in the next two years on the expected global growth in biofuel production. International Herald Tribune - June 4, 2007.

    China and the US will soon sign a biofuel cooperation agreement involving second-generation fuels, a senior government official said. Ma Kai, director of the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a media briefing that vice premier Wu Yi discussed the pact with US Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman and other US officials during the strategic economic dialogue last month. Forbes - June 4, 2007.

    German biogas company Schmack Biogas AG reports a 372% increase in revenue for the first quarter of the year, demonstrating its fast growth. Part of it is derived from takeovers. Solarserver [*German] - June 3, 2007.

    Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC has suspended the export of 150,000 barrels per day of crude oil because of community unrest in southern Nigeria, a company spokesman said. Villagers from K-Dere in the restive Ogoniland had stormed the facility that feeds the Bonny export terminal, disrupting supply of crude. It was the second seizure in two weeks. Shell reported on May 15 that protesters occupied the same facility, causing a daily output loss of 170,000 barrels. Rigzone - June 2, 2007.

    Heathrow Airport has won approval to plan for the construction of a new 'green terminal', the buildings of which will be powered, heated and cooled by biomass. The new terminal, Heathrow East, should be completed in time for the 2012 London Olympics. The new buildings form part of operator BAA's £6.2bn 10-year investment programme to upgrade Heathrow. Transport Briefing - June 1, 2007.

    A new algae-biofuel company called LiveFuels Inc. secures US$10 million in series A financing. LiveFuels is a privately-backed company working towards the goal of creating commercially competitive biocrude oil from algae by 2010. PRNewswire - June 1, 2007.

    Covanta Holding Corp., a developer and operator of large-scale renewable energy projects, has agreed to purchase two biomass energy facilities and a biomass energy fuel management business from The AES Corp. According to the companies, the facilities are located in California's Central Valley and will add 75 MW to Covanta's portfolio of renewable energy plants. Alternative Energy Retailer - May 31, 2007.

    Two members of Iowa’s congressional delegation are proposing a study designed to increase the availability of ethanol across the country. Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Ia., held a news conference Tuesday to announce that he has introduced a bill in the U.S. House, asking for a US$2 million study of the feasibility of transporting ethanol by pipeline. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., has introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Des Moines Register - May 30, 2007.

    A new market study by Frost & Sullivan Green Energy shows that the renewables industry in the EU is expanding at an extraordinary rate. Today biofuels and other renewables represent about 2.1 per cent of the EU's gross domestic product and account for 3.5 million jobs. The study forecasts that revenues from renewables in the world's largest economy are set to double, triple or increase even more over the next few years. Engineer Live - May 29, 2007.

    A project to evaluate barley’s potential in Canada’s rapidly evolving biofuels industry has received funding of $262,000 from the Biofuels Opportunities for Producers Initiative (BOPI). Western Barley Growers Association [*.pdf] - May 27, 2007.

    PNOC-Alternative Fuels Corporation (PNOC-AFC), the biofuel unit of Philippine National Oil Company, is planning to undertake an initial public offering next year or in 2009 so it can have its own cash and no longer rely on its parent for funding of biofuels projects. Manila Bulletin - May 27, 2007.

    TMO Renewables Limited, a producer of ethanol from biomass, has licensed the ERGO bioinformatics software developed and maintained by Integrated Genomics. TMO will utilize the genome analysis tools for gene annotation, metabolic reconstruction and enzyme data-mining as well as comparative genomics. The platform will enable the company to further understand and exploit its thermophilic strains used for the conversion of biomass into fuel. CheckBiotech - May 25, 2007.

    Melbourne-based Plantic Technologies Ltd., a company that makes biodegradable plastics from plants, said 20 million pounds (€29/US$39 million) it raised by selling shares on London's AIM will help pay for its first production line in Europe. Plantic Technologies [*.pdf] - May 25, 2007.

    Shell Hydrogen LLC and Virent Energy Systems have announced a five-year joint development agreement to develop further and commercialize Virent's BioForming technology platform for the production of hydrogen from biomass. Virent Energy Systems [*.pdf] - May 24, 2007.

    Spanish energy and engineering group Abengoa will spend more than €1 billion (US$1.35 billion) over the next three years to boost its bioethanol production, Chairman Javier Salgado said on Tuesday. The firm is studying building four new plants in Europe and another four in the United States. Reuters - May 23, 2007.

    According to The Nikkei, Toyota is about to introduce flex-fuel cars in Brazil, at a time when 8 out of 10 new cars sold in the country are already flex fuel. Brazilians prefer ethanol because it is about half the price of gasoline. Forbes - May 22, 2007.

    Virgin Trains is conducting biodiesel tests with one of its diesel engines and will be running a Voyager train on a 20 percent biodiesel blend in the summer. Virgin Trains Media Room - May 22, 2007.

    Australian mining and earthmoving contractor Piacentini & Son will use biodiesel from South Perth's Australian Renewable Fuels across its entire fleet, with plans to purchase up to 8 million litres from the company in the next 12 months. Tests with B20 began in October 2006 and Piacentinis reports very positive results for economy, power and maintenance. Western Australia Business News - May 22, 2007.

    Malaysia's Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui announces he will head a delegation to the EU in June, "to counter European anti-palm oil activists on their own home ground". The South East Asian palm oil industry is seen by many European civil society organisations and policy makers as unsustainable and responsible for heavy deforestation. Malaysia Star - May 20, 2007.

    Paraguay and Brazil kick off a top-level seminar on biofuels, cooperation on which they see as 'strategic' from an energy security perspective. 'Biocombustiveis Paraguai-Brasil: Integração, Produção e Oportunidade de Negócios' is a top-level meeting bringing together the leaders of both countries as well as energy and agricultural experts. The aim is to internationalise the biofuels industry and to use it as a tool to strengthen regional integration and South-South cooperation. PanoramaBrasil [*Portuguese] - May 19, 2007.

    Portugal's Galp Energia SGPS and Petrobras SA have signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a biofuels joint venture. The joint venture will undertake technical and financial feasibility studies to set up a plant in Brazil to export biofuels to Portugal. Forbes - May 19, 2007.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Bio-Extraction and BioNex Energy team up to improve efficiency of vegetable oil extraction

Bio-Extraction Inc. (BioExx) announces it has signed a joint development agreement with BioNex Energy Corp (BEC). Under the terms of the agreement, BioExx and BEC will work together on a development study to test and prove the commercial efficacy of the BioExx vegetable oil extraction technology for use in tandem with a planned BEC biodiesel production facility to be located in western Canada. BEC is a developmental stage company which intends to use cold crushing technology in its plant as a first-stage process for removal of oil from canola (rapeseed) and other high oil-content crops, and BioExx would provide the second-stage process.

Improving the efficiency of oil extraction is an important step in boosting the life-cycle efficiency and energy balance of vegetable oil based biofuels. The first stage of oil removal will utilize the BEC process which removes approximately 80% of the oil from the biomass while maintaining a consistently low temperature. In the second and final stage of oil removal, the patented BioExx process will be employed to remove up to 100% of the remaining oil while at the same time substantially maintaining the protein value originally contained in the biomass. On a combined basis, this process could improve yields of oil volume versus existing oil-removal technologies while at the same time dramatically increasing the residual value of the biomass. In some cases, BioExx may also be able to isolate the proteins for use as protein additives in animal or fish feed and eventually for human consumption.

Testing of the process is expected to occur during the next 4 to 6 months between the BEC test facility in Alberta and at the BioExx Intermediate Sized Plant facility in Charlottetown, PEI. The intention of the test program is to prove that the two-stage oil removal process is successful in:
  • removing a much higher percentage of the available oil
  • removing the oil using low temperature extraction such that the incumbent proteins and other nutritive content of the biomass is retained
Typically, oil is separated from biomass or crops using an extraction method that involves heat, pressure and organic solvents. Two traditional oil extraction methods exist:
Hexane and other organic solvents: the most widely used technology involves the use of a highly flammable, organic solvent called hexane (a mineral oil hydrocarbon component of gasoline) as the medium for extraction. The residual hexane is recovered (usually not completely) from the extracted/spent biomasses by heating the biomasses to high temperature and or using steam. This degrades the quality and value of the compounds and products that remain in the solvent extracted biomasses. Because of environmental and safety issues, it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain operating permits for new traditional solvent facilities and or to continue operating such extraction facilities in both North America and Europe.

Supercritical fluid extraction: the other major extraction technology used for certain extractions is Supercritical Fluid Extraction (SFE). While environmentally friendly, SFE operates at extremely high pressures, making it expensive in terms of operating and capital cost. In most cases it is not nearly as effective or efficient as BioExx in extracting oils from plant matter or industrial materials. In addition the SFE requires higher operating temperatures which may degrade and reduce the value and yield of the other products that may be extracted from the spent biomasses.
These processes tends to enjoy yields of 95% or more of the oil contained in the oilseeds and are quite efficient at very large scale. Once the oil is removed, the remaining material, ("spent biomass", "oil cake") is heated to high temperatures to recover the organic solvent. This high temperature process significantly degrades the proteins and reduces the nutritive value of the meal. The meal is then sold at moderate prices for use as animal feed. Unfortunately, when crop prices rise at a faster rate than the underlying fuel price, profit margins from these conventional facilities can be significantly eroded. The BioExx technology (comparison, table 1, click to enlarge) represents an improvement over conventional technology because it has the capability to remove up to 100% of the oil but at a significantly reduced operating temperature while retaining all of the nutritive content of the spent biomass:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The spent biomass resulting from this process can have substantially higher value because they can be sold as higher quality animal feeds or other higher value protein applications and products. The BioExx technology may therefore have the potential to fundamentally improve the economics of bio-diesel manufacturing operations, while at the same time mitigating the increasingly prominent "food versus fuel" conflict over global crop usage.

"We are very pleased to be working with BEC as an early-stage entry partner for our bio-diesel sector applications. In a relatively young industry, they have a strong team of veterans, and we look forward to their guidance and experience for the testing of the BioExx technology for use in Bio-Diesel applications," said BioExx CEO, Chris Carl. "We are optimistic that this development project will provide all of the data needed to prove, at a small commercial scale, that our patented technology is commercially superior to any other known oil extraction process, and that in turn, BioExx has the potential to meaningfully alter the economics of the production of biodiesel on a global basis."

BEC is a privately owned developer and operator of integrated oil seed crushing and biodiesel production facilities. The first project in Alberta will have an annual production capacity of 20 million litres of biodiesel, 30,000 tonnes of canola meal and 2,000 tonnes of glycerine. BEC believes the appropriate market entry strategy is to build a modular plant that can expand quickly to meet market demands and then to develop a number of distributed plants across Alberta that work closely with local grower groups. The biodiesel produced will then be shipped to terminal facilities for blending into petrodiesel. BEC was formed by ex-employees of the Advanced Biodiesel Group NA Ltd, is based in Calgary and has a senior management team experienced in biodiesel production, project development, commodity trading and business management.

"Our team has great depth of experience and we understand the commercial challenges that must be met to build a sustainable biodiesel business. Technology selection is a critical part of this challenge and, having searched the globe for the best technology available for efficient and effective oil extraction for biodiesel manufacturing, we have found nothing that compares to the what appears possible with the BioExx technology," said John Simpson, President of BEC.

"The prospect of extracting the maximum available oil and retaining all of the original nutritive value, in an environmentally responsible manner, is absolutely unique. To be successful in the production of bio-diesel, a product subject to increasing worldwide demand, we must find technologies that can substantially lower the overall production costs compared to current methods. At BEC, our goal is to develop projects that use best available technologies and to combine this with superior resource management to allow for lowest cost, highest value production of bio-diesel and related products. As our tests prove conclusive, we look forward to working with BioExx in an increasing array of exciting development projects", he added.

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Progress on small thermoacoustic devices that convert heat to power

University of Utah physicists are developing small devices that turn heat into sound and then into electricity. The technology holds promise for changing waste heat into electricity, harnessing solar energy without solar cells and generating power and cooling in a decentralised, off-grid way. The technologies will also be interesting in the context of bioenergy powered devices such as the three-in-one 'heating-cooling-electricity' generator under development for poor populations that rely on biomass. That small device is based on the same principle of thermoacoustic energy (earlier post). The tiny machines are like generators without moving parts. All they need to work is a heat source. This opens the prospect of micro-generators powered by biofuels, which could offer part of a solution to the problem of access to electricity in the rural regions of the developing world.

"We are converting waste heat to electricity in an efficient, simple way by using sound," says Orest Symko, a University of Utah physics professor who leads the effort. "It is a new source of renewable energy from waste heat." Five of Symko's doctoral students recently devised methods to improve the efficiency of acoustic heat-engine devices to turn heat into electricity. They will present their findings on Friday, June 8 during the annual meeting of the Acoustical Society of America.

Symko plans to test the devices within a year to produce electricity from waste heat at a military radar facility and at the university's hot-water-generating plant. The research is funded by the U.S. Army, which is interested in "taking care of waste heat from radar, and also producing a portable source of electrical energy which you can use in the battlefield to run electronics" he says.

Symko expects the devices could be used within two years as an alternative to photovoltaic cells for converting sunlight into electricity. The heat engines also could be used to cool laptop and other computers that generate more heat as their electronics grow more complex. And Symko foresees using the devices to generate electricity from heat that now is released from nuclear power plant cooling towers.

Thermoacoustic basics

Symko's work on converting heat into electricity via sound stems from his ongoing research to develop tiny thermoacoustic refrigerators for cooling electronics. In 2005, he began a five-year heat-sound-electricity conversion research project named Thermal Acoustic Piezo Energy Conversion (TAPEC). Symko works with collaborators at Washington State University and the University of Mississippi.

The project has received US$2 million in funding during the past two years, and Symko hopes it will grow as small heat-sound-electricity devices shrink further so they can be incorporated in micromachines (known as microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS) for use in cooling computers and other electronic devices such as amplifiers.

Using sound to convert heat into electricity has two key steps. Symko and colleagues developed various new heat engines (technically called "thermoacoustic prime movers") to accomplish the first step: convert heat into sound:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Then they convert the sound into electricity using existing technology: socalled "piezoelectric" devices that are squeezed in response to pressure, including sound waves, and change that pressure into electrical current. "Piezo" means pressure or squeezing.

Most of the heat-to-electricity acoustic devices built in Symko's laboratory are housed in cylinder-shaped "resonators" that fit in the palm of your hand. Each cylinder, or resonator, contains a "stack" of material with a large surface area - such as metal or plastic plates, or fibers made of glass, cotton or steel wool - placed between a cold heat exchanger and a hot heat exchanger.

When heat is applied - with matches, a blowtorch or a heating element - the heat builds to a threshold. Then the hot, moving air produces sound at a single frequency, similar to air blown into a flute. "You have heat, which is so disorderly and chaotic, and all of a sudden you have sound coming out at one frequency," Symko says. Then the sound waves squeeze the piezoelectric device, producing an electrical voltage. Symko says it's similar to what happens if you hit a nerve in your elbow, producing a painful electrical nerve impulse. Longer resonator cylinders produce lower tones, while shorter tubes produce higher-pitched tones.

No moving parts
Devices that convert heat to sound and then to electricity lack moving parts, so such devices will require little maintenance and last a long time. They do not need to be built as precisely as, say, pistons in an engine, which loses efficiency as the pistons wear.

Symko says the devices won't create noise pollution. First, as smaller devices are developed, they will convert heat to ultrasonic frequencies people cannot hear. Second, sound volume goes down as it is converted to electricity. Finally, "it's easy to contain the noise by putting a sound absorber around the device," he says.

Studies Improve Efficiency of Acoustic Conversion of Heat to Electricity
Here are summaries of the studies by Symko's doctoral students:
  • Student Bonnie McLaughlin showed it was possible to double the efficiency of converting heat into sound by optimizing the geometry and insulation of the acoustic resonator and by injecting heat directly into the hot heat exchanger. She built cylindrical devices 1.5 inches long and a half-inch wide, and worked to improve how much heat was converted to sound rather than escaping. As little as a 90-degree Fahrenheit temperature difference between hot and cold heat exchangers produced sound. Some devices produced sound at 135 decibels - as loud as a jackhammer.
  • Student Nick Webb showed that by pressurizing the air in a similar-sized resonator, it was able to produce more sound, and thus more electricity. He also showed that by increasing air pressure, a smaller temperature difference between heat exchangers is needed for heat to begin converting into sound. That makes it practical to use the acoustic devices to cool laptop computers and other electronics that emit relatively small amounts of waste heat.
  • Numerous heat-to-sound-to-electricity devices will be needed to harness solar power or to cool large, industrial sources of waste heat. Student Brenna Gillman learned how to get the devices - mounted together to form an array - to work together. For an array to efficiently convert heat to sound and electricity, its individual devices must be "coupled" to produce the same frequency of sound and vibrate in sync. Gillman used various metals to build supports to hold five of the devices at once. She found the devices could be synchronized if a support was made of a less dense metal such as aluminum and, more important, if the ratio of the support's weight to the array's total weight fell within a specific range. The devices could be synchronized even better if they were "coupled" when their sound waves interacted in an air cavity in the support.
  • Student Ivan Rodriguez used a different approach in building an acoustic device to convert heat to electricity. Instead of a cylinder, he built a resonator from a quarter-inch-diameter hollow steel tube bent to form a ring about 1.3 inches across. In cylinder-shaped resonators, sound waves bounce against the ends of the cylinder. But when heat is applied to Rodriguez's ring-shaped resonator, sound waves keep circling through the device with nothing to reflect them. Symko says the ring-shaped device is twice as efficient as cylindrical devices in converting heat into sound and electricity. That is because the pressure and speed of air in the ring-shaped device are always in sync, unlike in cylinder-shaped devices.
  • Student Myra Flitcroft designed a cylinder-shaped heat engine one-third the size of the other devices. It is less than half as wide as a penny, producing a much higher pitch than the other resonators. When heated, the device generated sound at 120 decibels - the level produced by a siren or a rock concert. "It's an extremely small thermoacoustic device - one of the smallest built - and it opens the way for producing them in an array," Symko says.
Image: University of Utah physicist Orest Symko holds a match (which is a type of bioenergy) to a small heat engine that produces a high-pitched tone by converting heat into sound. Symko's research team is combining such heat engines with existing technology that turns sound into electricity. Credit: University of Utah.

More information:
Eurekalert: A sound way to turn heat into electricity - June 3, 2007.

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Researchers: history of anthropogenic climate change has consequences for global equity

Two months ago, nations were negotiating in Bangkok over the wordings of the IPCC's report on how to mitigate climate change. Discussions did not go smoothly as rapidly developing nations, in particular China, India and Brazil, brought up the topic of global equity and the historic responsibilities of the highly industrialised countries. The developing nations, who used to be outside of the Kyoto Protocol's obligations, did so because they feared that a post-Kyoto agreement that is currently in the making might eventually threaten their economies, which are very energy intensive and largely rely on fossil fuels.

China just recently unveiled its own take on climate change mitigation, squarely putting economic growth first, and once again stressing that the highly developed economies - the EU, the US and to a lesser extent Japan and Russia - carry so large a burden of past greenhouse gas emissions, that they must be held responsible for the future effects of this past pollution. They have the obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions first.

To put the argument in other words: the Americans and the Europeans have had the privilege of being allowed to use massive amounts of climate destructive fossil fuels for more than 200 years, have deforested all their lands and gained so much prosperity in the process, that they are now so powerful and prosperous that they can 'green' their own economies with relative ease, while lecturing developing countries on which kind of industrialisation path (not) to follow. The developing countries ask for a more equitable approach.

This topic of historic responsibilities has always haunted negotiations on ways to mitigate climate change. A group of researchers from CSIRO's Global Carbon Project, the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique of France's Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, Germany's Kiel Institute for the World Economy and the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology now offer an interesting overview of the facts behind this debate. Their discussion is published as an open access article in the May 22 early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Cumulative emissions
The researchers look at the global and regional drivers of accelerating CO2 emissions, with an eye on the past. To do so, they analyse trends of the carbon intensity of the economies of a series of regions and countries. What immediately strikes is the fact that (click graph 1 to enlarge):
the developing and least developed economies (China, India, D2, and D3), representing 80% of the world’s population, accounted for 73% of global emissions growth in 2004. However, they accounted for only 41% of global emissions in that year, and only 23% of global cumulative emissions since the start of the industrial revolution.
The researchers note that such "a long-term (multidecadal) perspective on emissions is essential because of the long atmospheric residence time of CO2". It is precisely this argument that countries like China, India and Brazil are increasingly using as the basis of their vision on how the international community should divide responsibilities for mitigating climate change:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The researchers draw on the so-called 'Kaya-identity' of economies (which consists of a set of factors such as population growth, GDP growth, the carbon intensity of energy, the carbon intensity of GDP) to find a grim picture on global and regional emissions growth trends. Emissions from fossil-fuel burning and industrial processes have been accelerating at a global scale, with their growth rate increasing from 1.1% per year for 1990–1999 to 3% per year for 2000–2004. They find that the emissions growth rate since 2000 was greater than for the most fossil-fuel intensive of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emissions scenarios developed in the late 1990s.

To understand what this means, a quick overview of these IPCC emissions scenarios.
The Emission Scenarios of the IPCC Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES)

A1. The A1 storyline and scenario family describes a future world of very rapid economic growth, global population that peaks in mid-century and declines thereafter, and the rapid introduction of new and more efficient technologies. Major underlying themes are convergence among regions, capacity building and increased cultural and social interactions, with a substantial reduction in regional differences in per capita income. The A1 scenario family develops into three groups that describe alternative directions of technological change in the energy system. The three A1 groups are distinguished by their technological emphasis: fossil intensive (A1FI), non-fossil energy sources (A1T), or a balance across all sources (A1B) (where balanced is defined as not relying too heavily on one particular energy source, on the assumption that similar improvement rates apply to all energy supply and end use technologies).

A2. The A2 storyline and scenario family describes a very heterogeneous world. The underlying theme is self reliance and preservation of local identities. Fertility patterns across regions converge very slowly, which results in continuously increasing population. Economic development is primarily regionally oriented and per capita economic growth and technological change more fragmented and slower than other storylines.

B1. The B1 storyline and scenario family describes a convergent world with the same global population, that peaks in mid-century and declines thereafter, as in the A1 storyline, but with rapid change in economic structures toward a service and information economy, with reductions in material intensity and the introduction of clean and resource efficient technologies. The emphasis is on global solutions to economic, social and environmental sustainability, including improved equity, but without additional climate initiatives.

B2. The B2 storyline and scenario family describes a world in which the emphasis is on local solutions to economic, social and environmental sustainability. It is a world with continuously increasing global population, at a rate lower than A2, intermediate levels of economic development, and less rapid and more diverse technological change than in the B1 and A1 storylines. While the scenario is also oriented towards environmental protection and social equity, it focuses on local and regional levels.

As can be seen in graph 2 (click to enlarge), actual emissions in recent years have followed the worst-case scenario (A1FI), with rapid economic growth, an emphasis on fossil fuels and no major switch to low-carbon technologies:
Continuous decreases in both e [energy intensity of the world economy] and f [carbon-intensity of energy] are postulated in all IPCC emissions scenarios to 2100, so that the predicted rate of global emissions growth is less than the economic growth rate. Without these postulated decreases, predicted emissions over the coming century would be up to several times greater than those from current emissions scenarios. In the unfolding reality since 2000, the global average f has actually increased, and there has not been a compensating faster decrease in e. Consequently, there has been a cessation of the earlier declining trend in h [the carbon intensity of world GDP]. This has meant that even the more fossil-fuel-intensive IPCC scenarios underestimated actual emissions growth during this period.
No economy is decarbonising its energy supply
Global emissions growth since 2000 was driven by a cessation or reversal of earlier declining trends in the energy intensity of gross domestic product (GDP) (energy/GDP) and the carbon intensity of energy (emissions/energy), coupled with continuing increases in population and per-capita GDP. Nearly constant or slightly increasing trends in the carbon intensity of energy have been recently observed in both developed and developing regions. No region is really decarbonizing its energy supply.

More information:
Michael R. Raupach, Gregg Marland, Philippe Ciais, Corinne Le Quéré, Josep G. Canadell, Gernot Klepper, and Christopher B. Field, "Global and regional drivers of accelerating CO2 emissions", Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, Published online before print May 22, 2007, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0700609104

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Lula: wealthy West must invest in African biofuels

Rich countries must be ready to pay to help developing countries preserve their environment, Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has said. This should include investment for African nations to develop biodiesel and ethanol, President Lula told the BBC's HARDtalk programme.

Brazil is a pioneer in producing ethanol vehicle fuel from sugar cane. President Lula has been invited to attend a G8 meeting in Germany this week that will focus on global warming where he would bring this vision of a global 'biopact' to the table.

Under Lula's leadership, Brazil itself has given the example on biofuel cooperation, by establishing links with countries like Senegal, Mozambique (and here), Nigeria, and Angola, amongst others. The world's largest biofuel producer also created an Africa-cell for EMBRAPA, the leading tropical agriculture research organisation, in Accra, Ghana, from where it will help African nations kickstart biofuel development.

The African continent has a vast unexplored biofuels potential, that could, in an optimistic scenario, produce around 400Exajoules of bioenergy by 2050, in an explicitly sustainable manner. This roughly represents the total amount of energy the world currently consumes from all sources (oil, gas, coal, nuclear).

In this context, Lula said Brazil did not want to be the only country to grow sugar cane or biodiesel crops:
"[Rich countries should] start to help African countries to start to produce biodiesel and ethanol so that we can create jobs in Africa and wealth"
Earlier, Brazil set the stage with trilateral "South-North-South" forms of cooperation, whereby a rich country from the West puts up funds, Brazil offers the biofuels technologies and agronomic expertise, whereas the African host contributes land, labor, a suitable climate, and a local/global market that stands to benefit (such agreements have already been created with Portugal, Italy, Sweden and the UK):
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Lula insists that countries from the South have the right to develop, but he prefers clean development paths, provided the wealthy nations share the burden for the large costs this brings. So-called 'compensated reduction' of deforestation is part of this agenda:
"Rich countries have to pay for the poor countries to avoid deforestation so they can adopt clean models for development that don't cause pollution or greenhouse gas emissions. That's what I'm going to discuss at the G8 meeting."
The president denied that Brazilian plans to devote more land to ethanol production rather than food would put more pressure on the Amazon rainforest and cause further deforestation:
"Brazil has 440 million hectares of land for agriculture. Sugar cane cultivation uses only 1% of that. Soya bean uses only 4% and cattle raising 29%. So the issue is not land, and it's not even about the rainforest because the Amazon is not a good area for sugar cane production".
Brazil succeeded in reducing deforestation rates by up to 50% in recent years while expanding biofuel production (earlier post).

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Brazil, India to sign biofuel pact

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva began talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today, aiming to strengthen business ties and boost diplomatic links between the two emerging market giants. Lula arrived in India on Sunday, 3 June, on a three-day visit, his second in a little over three years, with a strong business agenda and a delegation of some 100 businessmen, on his way to the G8 summit in Germany this week, where he will discuss biofuels, climate change and trade (earlier post).

India and Brazil have forged strong strategic and trade ties in recent years and have emerged with a common position on key issues such as global trade talks and expansion of the UN Security Council. The two rising giants form the core of the G20, the group of developing nations with a special interest in agriculture, which offers a counter-weight to the G8 on trade and the Doha Round. Writing in The Hindu ahead of his arrival in India, Lula stated the following:
Both of our countries share a converging, innovative and hopeful perception of the world. Faced with an unequal world order incapable of responding to problems of development and collective security, India and Brazil avow their confidence in multilateralism and, through democratic dialogue, have been undertaking increasing international responsibilities.

This is what we have been pursing within the G-20. Despite the scepticism and opposition of a few countries, India and Brazil have shown steadfastness and determination in order to achieve a balanced equitable results in the Doha Round negotiations.
Announcing the strategic alliance on biofuels, Lula continued:
This is also the case of biofuels. We are endeavouring to forge a genuine energy revolution. India and Brazil joined efforts with South Africa, China, United States and the European Union to launch an International Forum on Biofuels. The democratization of access to new energy sources comes along with the need to create a new world market for these fuels. This aims at offering an alternative to the price increases and inexorable scarcity of traditional fossil fuel sources.
The green fuel revolution Lula wants to kickstart is especially important for developing countries:
The biofuels option is of fundamental importance for the developing countries. That is why India and Brazil are joining efforts and sharing knowledge in order to turn biofuels into an energy commodity at worldwide level. Apart from helping to reduce the effects of climate change, biofuels offer the prospect of new jobs and income, improvement in living conditions and sustainable development in rural areas. In Brazil, the sugar-ethanol industry generates a million direct jobs, many of which are in cooperatives and family enterprises, and six million indirect jobs. Moreover, we save billions of dollars in imports of petroleum and its by-products.
Last year, during the first "India Brazil South-Africa" (IBSA) Summit, both countries signed a bioenergy agreement, allowing India to invest in Brazilian energy plantations and to acquire land:
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Besides trade discussions and biofuels, Lula and Singh will also talk about are civilian nuclear cooperation and climate change.

Trade between India and Brazil has surged and touched US$2.4 billion in 2006. They have also increased investments in each other’s fast-growing economies. Indian firms have focused on investments and joint ventures in Brazil’s pharmaceutical, IT and energy sectors while Brazilian companies have targeted India’s infrastructure, food processing and energy sectors.

The two countries aim to quadruple trade to $10 billion by 2010 and their business leaders began a day-long parallel conference on Monday to explore new opportunities.
Separately, Brazilian energy giant Petrobras offered 25-30 percent stake to India’s state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp. in three exploration blocks, a Petrobras official said.

In return, ONGC offered a 15-40 percent stake in its three deep-water blocks on India’s east coast, Petrobras manager Demarco Epifanio said, adding that a preliminary agreement on the deals would be signed shortly.

Ahead of the visit, Brazilian officials had complained about New Delhi’s hesitation to further open its markets to farm imports and pointed at a fall in Brazilian exports to India by 15 percent to $937 million last year. Lula leaves New Delhi for Germany on Tuesday.

More information:
AlertNet: India, Brazil seek to build strategic relationship - June 4, 2007.

The Hindu: Consolidation of the India-Brazil strategic partnership, by Luis Inacio Lula da Silva - June 3, 2007.

LiveMint: Trade ties, bio-fuels focus of Singh, Lula talks - June 4, 2007.

BrazzilMag: In India, Lula and 100 Businessmen Sell Brazil as Land of Opportunity - June 4, 2007.

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