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    Some $170 billion in new technology development projects, infrastructure equipment and construction, and biofuel refineries will result from the ethanol production standards contained the new U.S. Energy Bill, says BIO, the global Biotechnology Industry Organization. According to Brent Erickson, BIO's executive vice president "Such a new energy infrastructure has not occurred in more than 100 years. We are at the point where we were in the 1850s when kerosene was first distilled and began to replace whale oil. This technology will be coming so fast that what we say today won't be true in two years." Chemical & Engineering News - January 07, 2007.

    Scottish and Southern Energy plc, the UK's second largest power company, has completed the acquisition of Slough Heat and Power Ltd from SEGRO plc for a total cash consideration of £49.25m. The 101MW CHP plant is the UK’s largest dedicated biomass energy facility fueled by wood chips, biomass and waste paper. Part of the plant is contracted under the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation and part of it produces over 200GWH of output qualifying for Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs), which is equivalent to around 90MW of wind generation. Scottish & Southern Energy - January 2, 2007.

    PetroChina Co Ltd, the country's largest oil and gas producer, plans to invest 800 million yuan to build an ethanol plant in Nanchong, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, its parent China National Petroleum Corp said. The ethanol plant has a designed annual capacity of 100,000 tons. ABCMoneyNews - December 21, 2007.

    Mexico passed legislation to promote biofuels last week, offering unspecified support to farmers that grow crops for the production of any renewable fuel. Agriculture Minister Alberto Cardenas said Mexico could expand biodiesel faster than ethanol. More soon. Reuters - December 20, 2007.

    Oxford Catalysts has placed an order worth approximately €700,000 (US$1 million) with the German company Amtec for the purchase of two Spider16 high throughput screening reactors. The first will be used to speed up the development of catalysts for hydrodesulphurisation (HDS). The second will be used to further the development of catalysts for use in gas to liquid (GTL) and Fischer-Tropsch processes which can be applied to next generation biofuels. AlphaGalileo - December 18, 2007.

    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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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Biopact to chair Sparks & Flames conference panel on carbon-negative biofuels

Biopact has been invited to chair a panel at the Gas Storage & Trading Summit that will take place during ICBI's Sparks & Flames energy conference to be held in December in Amsterdam. The three-day event brings together Europe's energy experts to discuss the long-term security of energy supplies, future fuel mix paradigms in light of climate change, as well as topics dealing with investments in infrastructure assets to overcome uncertainty in Europe’s gas and power markets. Over 70 representatives of Europe's nuclear, coal, gas and bioenergy sectors will be speaking.

CCS and carbon-negative bioenergy

Biopact chairs a panel on 'Sustainable Energy and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)' at which BP Alternative Energy, RWE npower, Forum for the Future and the Carbon Trust will participate. The panel will be assessing the eligibility, risks and security of geologically stored CO2, the technological and regulatory developments needed, and the ways in which CCS systems can be implemented within the EU's emissions trading scheme and future climate change policies.

Biopact chairs because of its exploration of the field of the large-scale production of carbon-negative bioenergy tied to CCS, seen by us and a growing group of scientists as one of the most feasible strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power generation in a safe and cost-effective way, while allowing the fossil fuel based energy sector to 'hybridize' itself and to transit towards cleaner production.

Such carbon-negative bioenergy systems (also called 'Bioenergy with Carbon Storage' or BECS) operate at the interface of dedicated biomass production and CCS technologies. They open a new, unexplored spatial dimension of CCS and power generation, they alter production, logistical and process flows, both up and downstream, and they present new perspectives on the risks associated with CCS. In short, BECS systems form the basis of an entirely new paradigm for research into the potential of carbon capture and storage technologies.

We will be presenting, amongst other topics, results of research on the creation of synergies between existing LNG infrastructures, local and large-scale production of biomethane coupled to site-specific CCS opportunities. These synergies may open perspectives on mixing carbon-negative and ultra-clean methane derived from renewable biomass with existing natural gas supplies.

Biochar and carbon-negative biofuels in the developing world
Biopact's Laurens Rademakers will also participate in a panel on 'Kyoto and Biofuels', at which he will give a presentation titled 'Exploring the potential for the production of bioenergy: access to energy, energy security and sustainability in the developing world', dealing with the technical, environmental, social and economic complexities of the production of bioenergy in the developing world, particularly in sub-Saharan and Central Africa, with special focus on the impact of rising energy prices on developing country governments and societies.

Developing country positions on trade reform in light of the emerging global bioeconomy will be discussed. Finally, Rademakers will present an overview of the potential of low-tech routes to carbon-negative biofuel production - via the sequestration of biochar in soils - and of how such production techniques could fit into a post-Kyoto universe.

For further information on ongoing research into both low- and high-tech BECS systems, contact us [entry ends here].
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World Meteorological Organization reports on 2007 extreme weather and climate events

According to the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization (WMO), weather and climate are marked by record extremes in many regions across the world since January 2007, which reflects the reality of climate change.

In January and April 2007 it is likely that global land surface temperatures ranked warmest since records began in 1880, 1.89°C warmer than average for January and 1.37°C warmer than average for April. Several regions have experienced extremely heavy precipitation, leading to severe floods.

The Fourth Assessment Report of the WMO/UNEP Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) notes an increasing trend in extreme events observed during the last 50 years. IPCC further projects it to be very likely that hot extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation events will continue to become more frequent (previous post).

WMO and the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of its 188 Members are working with other UN Agencies and partners towards the establishment of a multi-hazard early warning system. Furthermore, they are putting in place sustainable observation systems needed for monitoring and assessing the impacts of climate change and determining the adaptation priorities for the most vulnerable countries.

Heavy rainfall, cyclones and wind storms

During the first half (June-July) of the Indian summer monsoon season, four monsoon depressions (double the normal frequency) caused heavy rainfall and floods in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Many stations reported 24h rainfall exceeding 350 mm. These monsoon extremes and incessant rains caused large-scale flooding all over South Asia, a situation that continues even now, resulting in more than 500 deaths, displacement of more than 10 million people and destruction of vast areas of croplands, livestock and property:
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Cyclone Gonu, the first documented cyclone in the Arabian Sea, made landfall in Oman on 6 June with maximum sustained winds near 148 km/h. Gonu moved through the Persian Gulf making a second landfall in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In Oman, the cyclone affected more than 20,000 people and was responsible for more than 50 fatalities.

Heavy rains during 6-10 June ravaged areas across southern China. Flooding affected over 13.5 million people with more than 120 fatalities due to floods and landslides.

In England and Wales the period May to July in 2007 was the wettest (406 mm) since records began in 1766, breaking the previous record of 349 mm in 1789. The extreme rainfall in June, with 103.1 mm of rain recorded in 24 hours during 24-25 June in northeast England, was followed by a similar event with 120.8 mm of rain on 20 July in central England. Both events resulted in extensive flooding across parts of England and Wales. At least nine people have died and damage is estimated at more than US$6.00 billion.

With 126 mm (normal for 1961-1990: 71 mm], Germany experienced its wettest May since country-wide observations started in 1901. In sharp contrast, the previous month was the driest April since 1901 with an average of 4 mm (7% of the 1961-1990 normal).

A powerful storm system affected much of northern Europe during 17-18 January 2007 with torrential rains and winds gusting up to 170 km/h. There were at least 47 deaths across the region, with disruptions in electric supply affecting tens of thousands during the storm. Initial estimates of losses were reported as 3-5 billion Euros.

The worst flooding event in 6 years hit Mozambique in February. An estimated 30 people were killed and 120,000 evacuated from the central Zambezi basin. Additional flooding and loss of life was attributed to the landfall of tropical cyclone Favio on 22nd February.

Abnormally heavy and early rainfall in Sudan since the end of June has caused the Nile River and other seasonal rivers to overflow, resulting in extensive flooding and damaging more than 16,000 houses.

In May a series of large swell waves (estimated at 3-4.5 meters) swamped some 68 islands in 16 atolls in the Maldives causing serious flooding and extensive damages.

In early May, Uruguay was hit by the worst flooding since 1959. Heavy rainfall in portions of Uruguay produced floods that affected more than 110,000 people and severely damaged crops and buildings.

Heat Waves
Two extreme heat waves affected south-eastern Europe in June and July, breaking the previous records with temperatures exceeding 40 °C. Dozens of people died and fire-fighters worked around the clock fighting blazes devastating thousands of hectares of land. On 23 July, temperatures hit 45°C in Bulgaria, setting a new record.

In May a heat wave affected areas across western and central Russia breaking several temperature records. In Moscow, temperatures on 28 May reached 32.9°C, the highest temperature recorded in May since 1891.

In many European countries, April was the warmest ever recorded with the temperatures reaching more than 4°C over and above the long-term mean in some areas.

Recognizing the severe health impacts of heat waves, the WMO and the World Health Organization (WHO), are at an advanced stage of preparing Guidance on the implementation of Heat Health early Warning Systems (HHWS).

Climate Change and Extremes
According to the most recent climate change scientific assessment reports of the joint WMO/UNEP Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the warming of the climate system is unequivocal. Eleven of the last twelve years (1995-2006) rank among the 12 warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature. The 100-year trend (1906-2005) is 0.74°C. The linear warming trend over the last 50 years (0.13°C per decade) is nearly twice that for the last 100 years. Paleoclimatic studies suggest that the average Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the second half of the 20th century were very likely higher than during any other 50-year period in the last 500 years and likely the highest in the past 1,300 years.

IPCC further notes that there has been an increasing trend in the extreme events observed during the last 50 years, particularly heavy precipitation events, hot days, hot nights and heat waves.

Climate change projections indicate it to be very likely that hot extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation events will continue to become more frequent.

Additional facts:
An unusual cold winter season brought winds, blizzards and rare snowfall to various provinces in South America with temperatures reaching as low as -22°C in Argentina and -18°C in Chile in the beginning of July.

On 27 June a winter weather front moved across South Africa bringing the country’s first significant snowfall since 1981 (25 cm of snow in parts of the country).

In India, a heat wave during mid-May produced temperatures as high as 45-50°C.

Many European countries had their warmest January on record. January temperatures in The Netherlands were the highest since measurements were first taken in 1706, averaging about 7.1°C (2.8°C above 1961-1990 average) while in Germany the temperatures were 4.6°C above the 1961-1990 average.

An increase in intense tropical cyclone activities in the North Atlantic since about 1970 has been observed.

This information is based on inputs received from several WMO Members and with the collaboration of the NOAA National Climatic Data Centre (NCDC), USA, Germany's National
Meteorological Service, the Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD) and the Met Office, UK. It includes an indicative but not exhaustive coverage of the observed weather and climate extremes. More comprehensive information on weather and climate anomalies observed in 2007 will be provided towards the end of the year.

WMO is the United Nations’ authoritative voice on weather, climate and water

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Abengoa Bioenergy enters Brazilian market via acquisition of Dedini Agro

In a major development, Abengoa's subsidiary Abengoa Bioenergy has signed an agreement to acquire one hundred percent of the capital of the Dedini Agro group of companies for €216/US$297 million. Dedini Agro is one of the major companies in the Brazilian bioethanol and sugar market. In addition, the operation includes Abengoa assuming a debt of €281/US$387 million.

The acquisition is highly important for the global biofuel sector because Abengoa's cellulosic ethanol technologies will now be applied to sugar cane husks and to the processing byproduct bagasse, to yield a fuel the energy balance of which may come close to or even surpass that of petroleum based fuels.

Dedini Agro is one of the major companies in Brazil dedicated to the cultivation and processing of sugar cane and the production of bioethanol and sugar with two production facilities in the State of São Paolo. These two facilities currently operate with production costs that are among the most competitive in Brazil and the world thanks to their location, the experience of their human teams and the fact that they have direct control of a significant part of the crop lands via long-term contracts.

With this acquisition, Abengoa Bioenergy becomes the only company in the world to be present in the world's three major bioethanol markets: the United States, Brazil and Europe. Following the integration of Dedini Agro, Abengoa Bioenergy expects to attain significant increases in production at the existing facilities in Brazil, develop a new facility, and achieve more effective international marketing of the bioethanol produced in Brazil thanks to Abengoa Bioenergy's existing trade networks.

International significance
Importantly, Abengoa Bioenergy will be able to apply the cellulosic bioethanol technology it is developing to the sugar cane husks to achieve a medium-term increase in production and more efficient cost reduction. Combining both companies' technologies and resources, Abengoa Bioenergy could soon be producing the world's most energy efficient, cleanest and competitive fuel. The company currently operates the world’s first commercial scale cellulosic biomass-to-ethanol in Babilafuente (Salamanca), Spain, which processes 70 tonnes of agricultural residues each day to produce over 5 million liters of fuel grade ethanol per year (process overview, click to enlarge).

Moreover, the combination of Abengoa Bioenergy's international marketing and cellulosic bioethanol technology capacities and the local agricultural, production and marketing capacities will result in very significant synergies that will allow the attainment of important growth levels in the world's bioethanol market together with the technology that will allow the achieving of lower costs per liter of bioethanol:
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Eventually, technologies and processes developed by Abengoa Bioenergy as they are applied to sugar cane, could be transferred to developing countries with a large bioenergy production potential, to meet a large part of the world's rapidly growing fuel needs.

Brazil is the world's major bioethanol market with an annual production of 17,5 billion liters in 2006. The consumption of bioethanol is expected to continue to grow strongly thanks to the success of the flex-fuel vehicles that represent 90% of the number of vehicles sold in Brazil and that allow the use of gasoline or bioethanol without distinction.

Abengoa Bioenergy is the first European, fifth in the U.S.A, and the only worldwide bioethanol manufacturer, with more than 1000 ML/year of total installed capacity. In Spain maintains three production facilities with a capacity over 500 ML/year.

Abengoa is a technology company applying innovative solutions for sustainable development in the infrastructures, environment and energy sectors. It is a listed company with treasury stock of €3.166 billion and is present in more than seventy countries where it operates with its five Business Units: Solar, Bioenergy, Environmental Services, Information Technologies, and Industrial Engineering and Construction.

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Thenergo to develop new 3MW CHP biogas project in Flanders

Antwerp-based Thenergo, a developer of combined heat-and-power (CHP) clean energy solutions announces [*.doc] it will develop a 3.2 MW CHP biogas facility or 'E-farm' in West Flanders (Belgium). The project will be operational for up to 8,000 hours per year, generating annually 24,000MWh of clean power, enough to supply around-the-clock electricity for up to 6,000 households.

Thenergo E-farms will produce energy from organic waste produced by agricultural businesses, ranging from livestock smallholders to industrial–scale farmers and processors. E-farms are a waste solution – avoiding the need for landfill and incineration – and a source of much needed renewable energy for Europe. E-farms will assure agricultural businesses of reliable and cost-effective on-site energy while also providing surplus renewable energy to the local and national electricity grids.

Construction of the E-farm will begin in October 2007 and is expected to be operational within 15 months. The development and building costs represent an investment of €20 million. Thenergo will hold a 75% stake in this project.

The facility will generate power from animal manure (60,000 tonnes per year) and food processing waste (60,000 tonnes per year). Long term contracts with local suppliers will ensure delivery over the 20 year life of the plant. The facility will generate average annual sales of €6 million.

Since Thenergo’s IPO in June 2007, total installed capacity has risen to 33.4MW up from 25.2MW, while projected capacity has risen to 25.5MW up from 19.7MW:
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E-farms bring into focus all the components of Thenergo’s business model. From procurement, concept engineering and operational management to electricity trading, certificate and by-product sales, Thenergo will draw on its industry knowledge and engineering expertise, enabling it to extract full value from every step of the chain. Together with the Valmass E-farm project, a 1.6MW CHP E-farm also under construction in West Flanders, Thenergo today is becoming an influential player in this fast developing sector. - Kurt Alen, Thenergo CEO.
Founded in 2002 and based in Antwerp, Belgium, Thenergo is one of Europe’s leading independent developers and operators of sustainable energy projects using biomass, biogas and natural gas. Thenergo designs, builds, finances, trades energy and operates Combined Heat and Power projects for its own account and on behalf of its clients. To date, Thenergo has a gross installed capacity of 33.4MW for an annual electricity production capacity of 135 GWh. Since 14 June 2007, Thenergo has been listed on Alternext, Paris, where it raised a record €70 million.

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FAO Chief: climate change likely to increase risk of hunger

Climate change is likely to undermine food production in the developing world, while industrialized countries could gain in production potential, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said in a speech at the M.S. Swaminathan Foundation Conference in Chennai, India.

"Crop yield potential is likely to increase at higher latitudes for global average temperature increases of up to 1 to 3°C depending on the crop, and then decrease beyond that," he said. "On the contrary, at lower latitudes, especially in the seasonally dry tropics, crop yield potential is likely to decline for even small global temperature rises, which would increase the risk of hunger."

Greater frequency of droughts and floods would affect local production negatively, especially in subsistence sectors at low latitudes, Dr. Diouf added.

"Rainfed agriculture in marginal areas in semi-arid and sub-humid regions is mostly at risk," he explained. "India could lose 125 million tons of its rainfed cereal production - equivalent to 18 percent of its total production."

The impacts of climate change on forests and on forest dependent people are already evident in increased incidences of forest fires and outbreaks of forest pests and diseases. Climate change adaptation will be needed in a variety of ecosystems, including agro-ecosystems (crops, livestock and grasslands) forests and woodlands, inland waters and coastal and marine ecosystems, according to Diouf.

Using new biotechnologies
Science and technology must spearhead agricultural production in the next 30 years at a pace faster than the Green Revolution did during the past three decades, Dr. Diouf asserted.

"Exploiting the new biotechnologies, including in particular in vitro culture, embryo transfer and the use of DNA markers, can supplement conventional breeding approaches, thus enhancing yield levels, increasing input use efficiency, reducing risk, and enhancing nutritional quality," he said.

But, he cautioned, most genetically modified (GM) crops being cultivated today were developed to be herbicide tolerant and resistant to pests. Development of GM crops with traits valuable for poor farmers, especially within the context of climate change - such as resistance to drought, extreme temperatures, soil acidity and salinity - is not yet a reality, even though scientists are working on this (earlier post and especially here).

"I cannot sufficiently underline the need to also address the needs of resource poor farmers in rainfed areas and on marginal lands," said Diouf. "Ensuring that new biotechnologies help achieve this goal, in full awareness of biosafety, socio-economic and ethical concerns associated with the use of some of these technologies remains a challenge for the entire scientific community," the FAO chief added:
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In India, successes and shortfalls
Noting that the theme of this year's World Food Day (15 October) is "The Right to Food," Diouf praised India for playing a pioneering and model role in implementing this right with contributions from all parts of society.

In particular, he highlighted the country's Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme, which provides millions of mothers and children with health, nutrition and hygiene education, preschool education, supplementary feeding, growth monitoring and promotion, and also links to primary healthcare services like immunization and vitamin A supplements.

FAO's chief executive also lauded India for its national Midday Meal programme, which provides lunch free of cost to school children, and for tackling issues of rural poverty via its National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.

Yet despite these successes, Diouf also noted that challenges remain.

"The genuinely impressive success story of Indian economic growth and its emergence as a global powerhouse is also confronted with a more pessimistic picture as a large proportion of the Indian population has yet to benefit from the dynamic changes underway in the country," he noted, citing statistics from India's National Family Health Survey which show that 40 percent of the country's adults are underweight and that 79 percent of Indian children between three months and three years suffer from some type of anaemia.

“No state in India is free from iodine deficiency disorders, and Vitamin A deficiency continues to be a public health problem among pre-school children. In a country with 348 million people aged under 14, these are alarming levels of child malnutrition,” Dr Diouf said.

FAO: Climate change likely to increase risk of hunger - August 7, 2007.

Biopact: CGIAR developing climate-resilient crops to beat global warming - December 05, 2006

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French aerospace organisations launch aviation biofuels research project

Major aerospace manufacturers, governments, airlines, research organisations and service companies are currently researching the use of bio-based fuels for aviation, to mitigate the effects of increasing fuel prices and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from air transport. Emissions from aviation currently account for about 3% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions, but they are increasing fast – by 87% since 1990 – as air travel becomes cheaper without its environmental costs being addressed.

A French alternative-fuels project is joining efforts to green the industry, by laboratory-scale testing of blended fuels, second-generation biofuels and other candidates. The project, known as CALIN is being initiated by a conglomerate of research organisations consisting of France's aerospace research agency ONERA, propulsion company Snecma and members of the country's Aerospace Valley group.

CALIN is to be launched by the Aerospace Valley group of businesses from the Midi-Pyrenees and Aquitaine areas of south-west France, and will improve the understanding of the different fuels' kinetic properties, emissions and combustion characteristics to help computer modelling. The Aerospace Valley group unites most of Europe's leading aerospace manufacturers, including EADS, Airbus, Air France Industries, Alstom and Dassault.

Even though are no demonstration engines or flight trials involved, Snecma recently succeeded in testing a CFM56-7B jet engine with an ester-based biofuel at a Snecma site in Villaroche. The engine is produced by a joint venture between Snecma, CFM International, and General Electric Company. The fuel used was a methylester derived from plant oil, mixed with 70% Jet-A1 kerosene. The successful test with the unmodified engine reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 20% (earlier post and here).

Snecma research and technology vice-president Serge Eury says the next step after CALIN is the European Union funded Alfa-bird project. Alfa-Bird ('alternative fuels and biofuels for aircraft development') is a planned EU Seventh Framework research project to investigate the economic and industrial consequences of switching from today's kerosene-based jet fuels to biofuels and other alternatives:
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CALIN is part of the Aerospace Valley's energy and propulsion activity, which in turn is one of nine areas of aerospace research and development the group has under way.

The Aerospace Valley is Europe's leading employment pool in the fields of aeronautics, space and embedded systems, with 94,000 jobs in industry and services, 1,300 establishments, and 8,500 people employed in research. All major European aerospace manufacturers form part of the cluster.

The biofuels project is part of a larger vision to ensure that Europe's aviation industry remains world leader in renewable energies and in cleaner air transport. The Aerospace Valley cluster is world leader in civil aircraft design, luxury business aircraft, low- and medium-power gas turbines for helicopters, landing gear, aircraft batteries.

ONERA (Office National d’Etudes et Recherches Aérospatiales) is the French national aerospace research center. It is a public research establishment, with eight major facilities in France and about 2,000 employees, including 1,500 scientists, engineers and technicians.

Snecma, a SAFRAN Group company, designs, develops and produces engines for civil and military aircraft, launch vehicles and satellites, either alone or in partnership.

Snecma: CFM Successfully Tests Ester-Based Biofuel on CFM56-7B Engine - June 15, 2007.

Flight International: French alternate aviation fuels research to begin in December - August 8, 2007

Biopact: EU study looks at pros and cons of 20 most promising alternative fuels - July 25, 2007

Biopact: Syntroleum to deliver bio-based synthetic jet fuel to U.S. Department of Defense - July 09, 2007

Biopact: Boeing to fly aircraft on 50% biofuels blend - June 14, 2007

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