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    Finland's Metso Power has won an order to supply Kalmar Energi Värme AB with a biomass-fired power boiler for the company’s new combined heat and power plant in Kalmar on the east coast of Sweden. Start-up for the plant is scheduled for the end of 2009. The value of the order is approximately EUR 55 million. The power boiler (90 MWth) will utilize bubbling fluidized bed technology and will burn biomass replacing old district heating boilers and reducing the consumption of oil. The delivery will also include a flue gas condensing system to increase plant's district heat production. Metso Corporation - September 19, 2007.

    Jo-Carroll Energy announced today its plan to build an 80 megawatt, biomass-fueled, renewable energy center in Illinois. The US$ 140 million plant will be fueled by various types of renewable biomass, such as clean waste wood, corn stover and switchgrass. Jo-Carroll Energy - September 18, 2007.

    Beihai Gofar Marine Biological Industry Co Ltd, in China's southern region of Guangxi, plans to build a 100,000 tonne-per-year fuel ethanol plant using cassava as feedstock. The Shanghai-listed company plans to raise about 560 million yuan ($74.5 million) in a share placement to finance the project and boost its cash flow. Reuters - September 18, 2007.

    The oil-dependent island state of Fiji has requested US company Avalor Capital, LLC, to invest in biodiesel and ethanol. The Fiji government has urged the company to move its $250million 'Fiji Biofuels Project' forward at the earliest possible date. Fiji Live - September 18, 2007.

    The Bowen Group, one of Ireland's biggest construction groups has announced a strategic move into the biomass energy sector. It is planning a €25 million investment over the next five years to fund up to 100 projects that will create electricity from biomass. Its ambition is to install up to 135 megawatts of biomass-fuelled heat from local forestry sources, which is equal to 50 million litres or about €25m worth of imported oil. Irish Examiner - September 16, 2007.

    According to Dr Niphon Poapongsakorn, dean of Economics at Thammasat University in Thailand, cassava-based ethanol is competitive when oil is above $40 per barrel. Thailand is the world's largest producer and exporter of cassava for industrial use. Bangkok Post - September 14, 2007.

    German biogas and biodiesel developer BKN BioKraftstoff Nord AG has generated gross proceeds totaling €5.5 million as part of its capital increase from authorized capital. Ad Hoc News - September 13, 2007.

    NewGen Technologies, Inc. announced that it and Titan Global Holdings, Inc. completed a definitive Biofuels Supply Agreement which will become effective upon Titan’s acquisition of Appalachian Oil Company. Given APPCO’s current distribution of over 225 million gallons of fuel products per year, the initial expected ethanol supply to APPCO should exceed 1 million gallons a month. Charlotte dBusinessNews - September 13, 2007.

    Oil prices reach record highs as the U.S. Energy Information Agency releases a report that showed crude oil inventories fell by more than seven million barrels last week. The rise comes despite a decision by the international oil cartel, OPEC, to raise its output quota by 500,000 barrels. Reuters - September 12, 2007.

    OPEC decided today to increase the volume of crude supplied to the market by Member Countries (excluding Angola and Iraq) by 500,000 b/d, effective 1 November 2007. The decision comes after oil reached near record-highs and after Saudi Aramco announced that last year's crude oil production declined by 1.7 percent, while exports declined by 3.1 percent. OPEC - September 11, 2007.

    GreenField Ethanol and Monsanto Canada launch the 'Gro-ethanol' program which invites Ontario's farmers to grow corn seed containing Monsanto traits, specifically for the ethanol market. The corn hybrids eligible for the program include Monsanto traits that produce higher yielding corn for ethanol production. MarketWire - September 11, 2007.

    Ethanol Statistics, a new industry information resource, reports that U.S. petroleum refiners Citgo and Valero are the top 2 ethanol importing companies in the United States in the first 6 months of 2007. Overall imports were up 7.64% compared to the same period in 2006, from 193,620 gallons to 208,404 gallons. Chevron imported 43% less, whereas Noble and ConocoPhilips' imports were up 255% and 372% respectively. Data are reported in 'The United States Ethanol Market 2007’, which also provides a breakdown of U.S. ethanol production costs and a detailed analysis of U.S. consumption and production. Ethanol Statistics - September 10, 2007.

    The government of British Columbia launches a $100,000 study into the production of biogas, heat, power and clean water from household waste streams. Raw sewage water can be cleaned by microbial fuel cells that deliver electricity as they clean the water; other technologies include classic anaerobic fermentation. Canada.com - September 10, 2007.

    Saudi Aramco in its Annual Review 2006 said that last year the company's crude oil production declined by 1.7 percent, while exports declined by 3.1 percent, compared with the previous year. Crude oil production in 2006 averaged 8.9 million barrels of oil a day (b/d) and exports 6.9 million b/d. Saudi Aramco - September 9, 2007.

    Chinese packaging manufacturer Livan Biodegradable Product Co. Ltd. will build plants in Alsozsolca and Edeleny in eastern Hungary at a combined cost of €18 million by 2009, the Hungarian economics ministry says. The plants, which will employ 800 people, are planned to produce initially 50, 000 metric tons a year of environmentally-friendly packaging material, and double that amount by a later date. Livan will use corn to manufacture biodegradable packaging boxes with similar properties to petroleum-based plastic boxes used in the food industry. Dow Jones Newswires - September 7, 2007.

    South Korea aims to raise biodiesel content in domestic diesel to 3 percent from the current 0.5 percent by 2012, Seoul's energy ministry said today. The government was initially set last year to impose a mandatory 5 percent blend, in line with the level targeted by the European Union by 2010, but the country's powerful refining lobby opposed the move, forcing it to push back the target, according to market sources. Reuters - September 7, 2007.

    Virent Energy Systems, Inc. announced today that it has closed a US$21 million second round of venture financing. Investor interest in Virent was driven in large part by the Company’s continued development of its innovative BioForming process beyond its traditional hydrogen and fuel gas applications and toward the production of bio-based gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels. Virent Energy Systems - September 6, 2007.

    The U.S. National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) announces that 31 models of motor vehicles will be offered in the U.S. with an E85 capable engine in 2008. Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan and Mercedes Benz will all offer flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) in the coming year. The NEVC expects 750,000 such FFVs will be produced in 2008. National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition - September 5, 2007.

    GreenHunter BioFuels, Inc., has begun commercial operations with the start-up of a 1,500 barrel per day methanol distillation system. Methanol is an alcohol used to transesterify vegetable oils into biodiesel. The methanol production facility is a key element of GreenHunter's 105 million gallon per year biodiesel refinery, the largest in the U.S., slated for initial operations during the first quarter of 2008. PRNewswire - September 5, 2007.

    GreenHunter BioFuels, Inc., has begun commercial operations with the start-up of a 1,500 barrel per day methanol distillation system. Methanol is an alcohol used to transesterify vegetable oils into biodiesel. The methanol production facility is a key element of GreenHunter's 105 million gallon per year biodiesel refinery, the largest in the U.S., slated for initial operations during the first quarter of 2008. PRNewswire - September 5, 2007.

    Spanish renewables group Abengoa released its results for the first half of 2007 financial year in which its consolidated sales were €1,393.6 million, which is a 27.9 percent increase on the previous year. Earnings after tax were €54.9 million, an 18.6 percent increase on the previous year's figure of 46.3 million euro. Abengoa is active in the bioenergy, solar and environmental services sector. Abengoa - September 4, 2007.

    Canadian hydro power developer Run of River Power Inc. has reached an agreement to buy privately owned Western Biomass Power Corp. in a $2.2 million share swap deal that could help finance development of new green sources of electricity in British Columbia. The Canadian Press - September 4, 2007.

    As of Sept. 1, a biodiesel blending mandate has come into force in the Czech Republic, requiring diesel suppliers to mix 2 per cent biodiesel into the fuel. The same rule will be obligatory for gasoline starting next year. In 2009 the biofuel ratio will grow to 3.5 percent in gasoline and 4.5 percent in diesel oil. CBW - September 3, 2007.

    Budapest's first biofuel station opens on Monday near the Pesterzsébet (District XX) Tesco hypermarket. This is the third station selling the E85 fuel containing bioethanol in Hungary, as two other stations are encouraging eco-friendly driving in Bábolna and Győr. Caboodle - September 3, 2007.

    Canadian forest products company Tembec announced that it has completed the acquisition of the assets of Chapleau Cogeneration Limited located in Chapleau, Ontario. The transaction includes a biomass fired boiler and steam turbine with an installed capacity of 7.2 megawatts. Consideration for the assets consists of a series of future annual payments to 2022, with a present value of approximately $1 million. Tembec - September 1, 2007.

    Innovative internet and cable/satellite channel CurrentTV is producing a documentary on Brazil's biofuel revolution. Biopact collegues and friends Marcelo Coelho (EthanolBrasil Blog), Henrique Oliveira (Ethablog) and Marcelo Alioti (E-Machine) provided consulting on the technical, economic, environmental and social aspects of Brazil's energy transformation. ProCana - August 31, 2007.

    Oil major BP Plc and Associated British Foods Plc won competition clearance from the European Commission on to build a plant to make transport fuel from wheat in Hull, northeast England. U.S. chemical company DuPont is also involved. Reuters UK - August 31, 2007.

    The government of the Indian state of Orissa announced its policy for biofuel production which includes a slew of incentives as well as measures to promote the establishment of energy plantations. The state aims to bring 600,000 hectares of barren and fallow land under Jatropha and Karanj. At least 2 million hectares degraded land are available in the State. The new policy's other objectives are to provide a platform for investors and entrepreneurs, market linkages and quality control measures. Newindpress - August 29, 2007.

    Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras said today it expects to reach large scale cellulosic ethanol production in 2015, with the first plant entering operations as early as 2011. Lignocellulosic biomass is the most abundant biological material on the planet, making up the bulk of the structure of wood and plants. In a first phase, Petrobras intends to use bagasse as a feedstock. Reuters / MacauHub- August 29, 2007.

    Seattle based Propel Biofuels, is announcing a $4.75 million first round of capital from @Ventures and Nth Power. The money will be used to help Propel set up and manage biodiesel fueling stations. BusinessWire - August 29, 2007.

    BioEnergy International, a science and technology company committed to developing biorefineries to produce fuels and specialty chemicals from renewable resources, announced today the closing of a major US$61.6 million investment that will provide funding for the Company’s three strategic initiatives: generating secure cash flow from its conventional ethanol platform, product diversification through the introduction of novel biocatalysts for the manufacture of green chemicals and biopolymers and the integration of its cellulose technology. BusinessWire - August 28, 2007.

    German company Verbio Vereinigte BioEnergie, the biggest biofuels producer in Europe, says it is considering plans to invest up to €100/US$136.5 million in a biofuel production facility in Bulgaria. The company wants the new facility to be located close to a port and Bulgaria's city of Varna on the Black Sea is one of the options under consideration. If Verbio goes through with the plan, it would produce both biodiesel and bioethanol, making Bulgaria a major source of biofuels in southeastern Europe. Verbi currently produces around 700,000 tonnes of biofuels per year. Sofia News Agency - August 27, 2007.

    Czech brown-coal-fired power plant Elektrárna Tisová (ETI), a unit of the energy producer ČEZ, could co-fire up to 40,000 tons of biomass this year, the biggest amount in the company’s history, said Martin Sobotka, ČEZ spokesman for West Bohemia. ETI burned more than 19,000 tons of biomass in the first half of 2007. The company’s plan reckoned with biomass consumption of up to 35,000 tons a year. Czech Business Weekly - August 27, 2007.

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Vienna UN conference: consensus on building blocks for international response to climate change

A round of climate change talks under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concluded in Austria today with agreement [*.pdf] on key elements for an effective international response to climate change.

The conference concluded that industrialized countries should strive to cut emissions by 25 percent to 40 percent of their 1990 levels by 2020. Experts said that target would serve as a loose guide for a major international climate summit to be held in December in Bali, Indonesia. Critics have already responded that this range of cuts too broad.

The “Vienna Climate Change Talks 2007” were attended by more than 900 delegates from Parties, representatives from Intergovernmental Organisations, NGOs and members of the press.

They were designed to set the stage for a major United Nations conference in December in Bali. The meeting in Indonesia will seek to advance future action on climate change post-2012, when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires.
Countries have been able to reassess the big picture of what is needed by identifying the key building blocks for an effective response to climate change. There is a consensus that the response needs to be global, with the involvement of all countries and that it needs to give equal importance to adaptation and mitigation. - Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC Executive Secretary
Government delegates also debated how the response can be enabled by an approach that opens the way for financial flows to climate-friendly and climate-proof investments. This was based on a report on the investment and financial flows relevant to the development of an effective and appropriate international response to climate change, presented to the conference by the UN Climate Change Secretariat.

Alluding to the potential of the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Yvo de Boer said:
The report clearly shows that energy efficiency can achieve real emission reductions at low costIt also shows that many cost-effective opportunities for reducing emissions are in developing countries, but also that industrialised countries need aggressive emission reduction strategies.
The CDM permits industrialized countries to invest in sustainable development projects and thereby generate tradable emission credits:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The conference comprised the last workshop of the “Dialogue on long-term cooperative action to address climate change by enhancing implementation of the Convention” and negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol designed to identify emission reduction ranges of industrialised countries.

A number of Parties, including Indonesia as the host country of the UN Climate Change Conference 2007, in Vienna called for Bali to launch a formalised way to continue this work, which represents one of the options for taking the outcomes further.

At Vienna, the “Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments of Annex I Parties (industrialised countries) under the Kyoto Protocol, the AWG, officially recognised the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) indication that global emissions of greenhouse gases need to peak in the next 10 to 15 years and then be reduced to very low levels, well below half of levels in 2000 by mid-century, if concentrations are to be stabilised at safe levels.

The group also officially recognised that avoiding the most catastrophic forecasts made by the IPCC, including very frequent and severe droughts and water-shortages in large parts of the world, would entail emission reductions in the range of 25-40% below 1990 levels by industrialised countries. The mitigation potential of industrialised countries increases through the use of the CDM.
This is a first step that has laid the groundwork for the Bali Conference. It shows that Parties have the necessary level of ambition to move this work forward. - Yvo de Boer
UNFCCC: Vienna UN conference shows consensus on key building blocks for effective international response to climate change [*.pdf] - August 31, 2007.

UNFCCC: Investment and financial flows relevant to the development of effective and appropriate international response to Climate Change - August 2007.

AP: Agreement Reached on Greenhouse Gas Curb - August 31, 2007.

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Russian scientists develop fullerene-based hydrogen sorbing agent that meets DOE criteria

Scientists from Saint Petersburg have tested various materials for their ability to absorb hydrogen and found that a composite material consisting of fullerene-containing soot and magnesium hydride meets the targets set out by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for hydrogen transport power systems. Given that hydrogen is likely to be made from biomass in the future, the latest developments in storage technologies are important for the bioenergy community.

The DOE has fixed two targets for hydrogen storage solutions applied to automotive transportation. The first target requires a ratio of hydrogen weight / tank weight that is superior to 0,065 (6,5% weight). This target limits the weight of the tank. The second target requires a hydrogen volumetric density higher than 62 kg/m in order to limit the volume of the tank.

The Russian researchers from the Ceramic Thermal Materials Science and Engineering Centre focused their work on building an experimental hydrogen storage material with a gas weight content of around 60 kilogram and a volume content not less than 5% per cubic meter. Current traditional methods of storing nitrogen, either under high pressure in gaseous condition, or in liquid or adsorbed state, have low hydrogen parameters, both in weight and volume.

To develop their storage method, the scientists looked at various solid sorbents, based on carbon nanostructures - multi-layer nanotubes, astralenes (nanodispersible fulleroid systems) and fullerene-containing soot - which are activery studied around the world. They also analysed specialy treated palladium, magnesium hydride and their composites.

The researchers performed their tests at a special hydrogen test stand able to operate under temperatures from -180 to +800 degrees centigrade and with pressures varying from 0.0001 millimeter mercury column to 20 megapascals, as well as under various environmental conditions.

The scientists found that the inner cavities of all materials (central channels and interlamellar zones of nanotubes and astralenes) do not absorb hydrogen despite any type of specialized preliminary treatment for these materials. Enthusiastic researchers have tested palladium as a catalytic agent, but failed: this metal added only 1-1.5% to hydrogen absorption. Other nanomaterials - graphite fiber, activated carbon, pure fulleren dust, titanium powder and titanium metal hydride - showed much lower sorption values than powders of nanostructural materials.

Fullerene-containing soot appeared to be the winner among sorbent materials:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The researchers prepared a powder of fullerene-containing soot, treated it with glycerol, and added magnesium hydride powder. These manipulations resulted in a sorbing agent the hydrogen sorbing parameters of which fit the requirements for hydrogen storages developed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The new sorbent boasts the following parameters: the weight content of hydrogen slightly exceeds 5%, which leads to 65 kg in one cubic meter. Maximum absorption is shown under conditions of 200-350 degrees centigrade and 1-10 megapascals. The reverse process is highly effective at temperatures of 340-350 degrees centigrade.

Image: fullerenes are a family of carbon allotropes - molecules composed entirely of carbon, in the form of a hollow sphere, ellipsoid, or tube.

Russian Information Center: New Horizons of Storing Hydrogen - August 30, 2007.

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Brazil and the Philippines to intensify cooperation on biofuels

Brazil has agreed to intensify cooperation in energy security, particularly in the development and use of biofuels, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs says. Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said he met with Brazilian Minister for Foreign Relations Celso Amorim and they agreed to intensify cooperation in the development and use of ethanol, biodiesel and biomass energy.

Brazil is the world's leading biofuel producer and has been able to replace 18 per cent of its automotive fuel requirements with the green fuels.

Since ethanol has become less costly and much easier to manufacture and process than petroleum, the alternative fuel is steadily becoming a promising alternative to gasoline throughout the world.

According to Department of Foreign Affairs, in the Philippines, the use of ethanol and other fuel alternatives will be a major boost to the country’s energy independence agenda which outlines the road map for the attainment of energy self-sufficiency by 2010. It is expected to ensure a steady supply of energy to the Philippines which is heavily dependent on imported oil:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Last January, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo formally signed Republic Act 9367, also known as the “Biofuels Act of 2006,” into law. It promotes the use of alternative transport fuels consistent with the Declaration on East Asian Energy Security ratified by the 16 heads of state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its dialog partners during the 12th Asean Summit in Cebu.

In the Philippines, bio-ethanol will be produced from crops such as sorghum and sugar cane.

Brazil has been extremely active in promoting the alternative abroad, signing tens of bilateral technology transfer and cooperation agreements with countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

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Statoil takes 42.5% interest in Baltic biodiesel producer

Norwegian oil company Statoil has signed a letter of intent with SEB Venture Capital for the purchase of a 42.5% interest in UAB Mestilla. Mestilla is building the biggest biodiesel factory in the Baltic states.

Owners of Lithuanian agricultural company Linas Agro will be the other shareholder, with a 57.5% stake. Construction of the factory began in the spring of 2006. It lies in the free economic zone near the coastal town of Klaipeda. Plans call for production to begin in the autumn of 2007.

The biodiesel factory (photo, click to enlarge) will have a capacity of just over 100,000 tonnes per year. The plant is close to the port, and the good export possibilities make it an efficient supplier to the European market. Moreover, the plant is located in an area of Europe where raw materials are readily available at competitive prices.

Statoil is also working to develop market opportunities both in the Baltic states and Poland with road and rail delivery.

The raw material is vegetable oil. But since the new factory has its own crusher, it can also make vegetable oil directly from oil seed rape supplied by farmers. The crushing capacity makes it more robust with a view to raw materials supply, which come from the Baltic states, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

"While Linas Agro possesses expertise on sourcing raw materials, Statoil has broad experience with sales, distribution and marketing of automotive fuels," says Sjur Haugen, Statoil's sector manager in the Manufacturing & Marketing business area.

Linas Agro will be responsible for the raw material supply and Statoil will be the sole marketer of the biodiesel product.

"It is unusual that an agricultural and oil company are collaborating this way in the biodiesel industry," says Mr Hagen.

"Our aim is to create a strong supply value chain meeting common sustainability criteria to the benefits of our customers. By being close to the market and being involved in the whole production process we have improved our ability to deliver the right quality biodiesel at the right time to them."

Final closing of the transaction will be dependent on Lithuanian competition authority approval.

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