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    PolyOne Corporation, the US supplier of specialised polymer materials, has opened a new colour concentrates manufacturing plant in Kutno, Poland. Located in central Poland, the new plant will produce colour products in the first instance, although the company says the facility can be expanded to handle other products. In March, the Ohio-based firm launched a range of of liquid colourants for use in bioplastics in biodegradable applications. The concentrates are European food contact compliant and can be used in polylactic acid (PLA) or starch-based blends. Plastics & Rubber Weekly - October 2, 2007.

    A turbo-charged, spray-guided direct-injection engine running on pure ethanol (E100) can achieve very high specific output, and shows “significant potential for aggressive engine downsizing for a dedicated or dual-fuel solution”, according to engineers at Orbital Corporation. GreenCarCongress - October 2, 2007.

    UK-based NiTech Solutions receives £800,000 in private funding to commercialize a cost-saving industrial mixing system, dubbed the Continuous Oscillatory Baffled Reactor (COBR), which can lower costs by 50 per cent and reduce process time by as much as 90 per cent during the manufacture of a range of commodities including chemicals, drugs and biofuels. Scotsman - October 2, 2007.

    A group of Spanish investors is building a new bioethanol plant in the western region of Extremadura that should be producing fuel from maize in 2009. Alcoholes Biocarburantes de Extremadura (Albiex) has already started work on the site near Badajoz and expects to spend €42/$59 million on the plant in the next two years. It will produce 110 million litres a year of bioethanol and 87 million kg of grain byproduct that can be used for animal feed. Europapress - September 28, 2007.

    Portuguese fuel company Prio SA and UK based FCL Biofuels have joined forces to launch the Portuguese consumer biodiesel brand, PrioBio, in the UK. PrioBio is scheduled to be available in the UK from 1st November. By the end of this year (2007), says FCL Biofuel, the partnership’s two biodiesel refineries will have a total capacity of 200,000 tonnes which will is set to grow to 400,000 tonnes by the end of 2010. Biofuel Review - September 27, 2007.

    According to Tarja Halonen, the Finnish president, one third of the value of all of Finland's exports consists of environmentally friendly technologies. Finland has invested in climate and energy technologies, particularly in combined heat and power production from biomass, bioenergy and wind power, the president said at the UN secretary-general's high-level event on climate change. Newroom Finland - September 25, 2007.

    Spanish engineering and energy company Abengoa says it had suspended bioethanol production at the biggest of its three Spanish plants because it was unprofitable. It cited high grain prices and uncertainty about the national market for ethanol. Earlier this year, the plant, located in Salamanca, ceased production for similar reasons. To Biopact this is yet another indication that biofuel production in the EU/US does not make sense and must be relocated to the Global South, where the biofuel can be produced competitively and sustainably, without relying on food crops. Reuters - September 24, 2007.

    The Midlands Consortium, comprised of the universities of Birmingham, Loughborough and Nottingham, is chosen to host Britain's new Energy Technologies Institute, a £1 billion national organisation which will aim to develop cleaner energies. University of Nottingham - September 21, 2007.

    The EGGER group, one of the leading European manufacturers of chipboard, MDF and OSB boards has begun work on installing a 50MW biomass boiler for its production site in Rion. The new furnace will recycle 60,000 tonnes of offcuts to be used in the new combined heat and power (CHP) station as an ecological fuel. The facility will reduce consumption of natural gas by 75%. IHB Network - September 21, 2007.

    Analysts fear that record oil prices will fuel general inflation in Kenya, particularly hitting the poorest hard. They call for the development of new policies and strategies to cope with sustained high oil prices. Such policies include alternative fuels like biofuels, conservation measures, and more investments in oil and gas exploration. The poor in Kenya are hit hardest by the sharp increase, because they spend most of their budget on fuel and transport. Furthermore, in oil intensive economies like Kenya, high oil prices push up prices for food and most other basic goods. All Africa - September 20, 2007.

    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.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Dynamotive to invest $105 million to develop second-generation biofuel and electricity complexes for rural Argentina

Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation, a leading second-generation biofuel company and its subsidiary Dynamotive Latinoamericana S.A., announce they have submitted documents to the Government of Corrientes detailing plans to invest approximately $105 million to develop two self-contained biofuel-to-electricity complexes in this northeastern province of Argentina (more on the company's plans in Latin America, here).

Each complex will be comprised of a 15.7 megawatt electricity generating station powered by the majority of the fuel output of two 200-ton-per-day modular plants producing bio-oil from wood waste and residues from nearby forests and other biomass residue. Excess bio-oil produced at these facilities will be sold into commercial and industrial fuel markets.

Dynamotive is one of the companies to have made most progress in the development of second-generation biofuels. Its production process is based on fast-pyrolysis of biomass. Fast-pyrolysis is a process that heats biomass to 450-600 degrees centigrade in the absence of air, which results in a heavy oil (pyrolysis oil, bio-oil, 'biocrude') that can be used as such instead of heating oil, or further refined into a range of fuels and green chemicals (schematic, click to enlarge). Unique to Dynamotive is its modular concept, which allows for flexible, decentralised biofuel production close to the source of the biomass (earlier post). Recently, the company demonstrated its commercial-scale plant in Guelph, Ontario - the first to do so (here).
Dynamotive’s proprietary fast-pyrolysis technology is a proven and cost-effective method of turning agricultural and forest residues into renewable fuel and electric power. Furthermore, we have pioneered our technology as a readily-transportable series of modules that can create such biofuel-to-electricity complexes virtually anywhere in the world. - Andrew Kingston, chief executive officer of Dynamotive
Dynamotive's activities in Argentina focus on two sites to be located approximately 500 miles from Buenos Aires, in Virasoro and Santa Rosa (map, click to enlarge). They are being secured by the Province of Corrientes. The company said the projects will proceed promptly once existing 10-year agreements-in-principle are finalized for the needed supply and cost of the biomass raw materials, and for the pricing structure of the electricity to be produced and transmitted to nearby industry and communities from the complexes. Other similar projects are being planned for additional locations in Corrientes, in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America:
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Development and construction of the complexes will be implemented by Dynamotive, jointly with TECNA, a major Argentine engineering firm, and financing will be provided by a group of banks and other private sources. When fully operational late next year, the complexes will have available approximately 340,000 dry tons of biomass annually, providing opportunity for further expansion.

Dynamotive said a joint focus of the development of the complexes is to tackle environmental issues arising from vast stockpiles of decomposing wood waste and substantially increase electricity generating capacity in this forested region of Argentina.

The announcement was made in the city of Gobernador Virasoro by Vice President Raúl Parisi of Dynamotive Latinoamericana and Governor Arturo Colombi of Corrientes Province, at a gathering that included city and provincial officials, including Mayor Rodolfo Fernández and members of the provincial and local cabinets.
Dynamotive’s proposed investment reflects strong support for the progress we are making in Corrientes toward economic growth and environmental protection, two goals to which we are all committed. - Arturo Colombi, Governor of Corrientes Province
The biomass-to-energy facilities are expected to foster progress in the region with widespread positive impact on the provincial economies, the local job market and the environment.

In a development not related to the plans in Argentina, but of interest to the bioenergy community, Dynamotive is also experimenting with biochar ('agrichar', 'terra preta') which could lead to the production of carbon-negative fuels (more here and here). By storing a carbon-rich fraction of the pyrolysed biomass in agricultural soils, a low-tech carbon sequestration technique can be developed. The process has shown to result in increased yields for the (energy) crops that are planted on such improved soils.

Biopact: Dynamotive demonstrates fast-pyrolysis plant in the presence of biofuel experts - September 18, 2007

Biopact: Carbon negative biofuels: Dynamotive to test biochar to boost crop yields, water quality, and sequester carbon - May 30, 2007

Biopact: Dynamotive plans to build 6 bio-oil plants in Argentina - April 30, 2007

Biopact: Dynamotive begins construction of modular fast-pyrolysis plant in Ontario - December 19, 2006

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India to roll out real-time data on all standing crops - towards 'planetary biomass management'

The bioeconomy has the theoretical potential to replace a large amount of fossil fuels. Multiple analyses and projections indicate that global sustainable biomass potentials equate to a maximum of around 1400 Exajoules per year by 2050 (earlier post). Currently, the world consumes around 380EJ of fossil energy. However, in order to tap this potential efficiently, new technologies and policies have to be implemented. Interventions will have to occur in a broad range of sectors, from the way livestock is produced to the manner in which biomass is converted into fuels and energy; from carbon management to trade reform.

One of the crucial strategies needed to ensure that biomass trade between countries and continents happens in a sustainable, carbon-reducing and efficient way is to monitor land-use and emission patterns globally. In a globalized world and in the era of intercontinental biomass trade, the use of green fuels in one region can have a range of unintended social, economic and ecological effects in other places.

Ideally, earth observation data on land use, greenhouse gas emissions, and water use in forestry and agriculture would be combined and inform a kind of 'planetary biomass management' strategy (ealier post). A large amount of this kind of data gathered by different countries and institutions is already available - now it needs to be integrated into a more coherent framework. However, most data are being acquired by highly developed countries, whereas developing nations urgently need access to similar data as they stand to become the largest bioenergy producers.

India is taking a first step towards this aim, and interestingly it is relying on an open source platform to do so. The country's Department of Science and Technology (DST) intends to roll out a mechanism to collect real-time satellite data on the health/stress status of all standing crops in the country, and to advise state governments and other stakeholders on how best to deal with the data.

The real-time monitoring of crops will be an invaluable input to the central and state governments to make timely interventions through critical decisions on support prices, credit availability, import and export policies, insurance schemes, irrigation schedules and, indeed, the use of biomass for energy. All agricultural crops have been mapped for the purpose and a 'biomass index' has been developed:
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This will enable us to monitor crops and take critical decisions. We would also be able to advise the farmer on inputs required to ensure that his crop stays healthy. We believe that informed decision-making in this manner would ultimately leave more money in the farmer’s hands. - Kapil Sibal, Minister for Science and Technology
Data on biomass is collected from a range of remotely sensed data of a number of satellites, both Indian and foreign. There are a number of bands in each satellite which picks up data of biomass on a village-to-village basis. Each band of each satellite has different characteristics.

A DST team has worked on these bands using a technique called 'principal component analysis' to arrive at a composite digital image which combines data from different bands of different satellites. The biomass index has been developed based on this composite digital image.

This provides a complex computational challenge involving the development of suitable algorithms. The biomass index so developed is a numerical quantity, which can be used to identify crops, assess acreage and determine the health or stress of crop.

"It’s all basically collection of data [...] and using an algorithm for the purpose of determining various parameters to come to certain conclusions," Sibal said.

This will be a very innovative method of assessing crop composition, crop productivity and crop health on a weekly basis. It is possible to have almost complete data at the village level. The method has been tested and validated on a pilot basis.

The methodology makes use of data from a variety of satellites and most of this is in public domain and freely available. It is, therefore, cheap and has the advantage of being based on an 'open source' platform.

Business Line: DST plans real-time mapping of standing crops - October 1, 2007.

Biopact: Satellites play vital role in understanding the carbon cycle - April 26, 2007

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UNIDO trials sisal waste for biogas and biofertilizer

Tanzania has registered considerable success in testing the use of sisal waste in generating electricity. An ongoing pilot project managed by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) titled 'Cleaner Integral Utilisation of Sisal Waste for Biogas and Biofertilizers' shows that the sisal residues make for an efficient substrate for anaerobic digestion. The biogas waste stream makes for a bio-fertilizer.

Sisal is an agave that yields a stiff fiber used for a range of products, most notably rope and industrial fibers. In the 1970s, global production was about 800,000 tonnes with Kenya and Tanzania accounting for over 30 percent of the total. Other sisal growing countries are China, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and Mozambique. In 2006, global production had plummeted to about 268,000 tonnes. The downtrend in sisal production has been attributed to the emergence of synthetic fibers made from petroleum, to poor marketing arrangements, barriers to free trade, non utilization of the entire sisal plant and inadequate research and development.

However, recent interest in natural fibers as replacements for petroleum-based synthetics has given the African sisal industry renewed vigor. Car manufacturers as well as green product designers are looking back into the crop (earlier post).

The more efficient utilization of the entire plant's waste stream could further contribute to reviving the industry. Until recently only 2% of the sisal plant was considered to be useful. New initiatives, amongst which the UNIDO project, now show that the remaining 98 percent has potential economic value; harvesting and processing residues, discarded in the past, now have use as a biomass feedstock capable of yielding renewable and carbon-neutral energy.

The UNIDO project involves a biogas pilot plant at the Hale Sisal Estate in the Korogwe District in the Tanga region, which was able to yield 150 kilowatts of electricity from the plantation's harvesting and processing residues, enough to power a nearby hammer mill for making pulp.

Mayra Sanchez Osuna, UNIDO's Project Manager said the trials have established the viability of using sisal waste to produce the biogas, electricity and bio-fertilizer:
[this] is the first demonstration project for the total utilization of this commodity in an economically feasible and friendly way adding that the results will be transferred to other interested sisal growing nations to replicate.
Observers say the findings will check the power divide existing between the rural and urban communities. Osuna said that the positive effect was leading to possibility of generating electricity in rural areas from locally available renewable sources:
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More than half of the world population has no access to electricity and with the prices of fuel rising relentlessly the search for alternative energy becomes crucial.

The Hale project is part of the efforts to find for alternative applications of sisal to counter the present slump in sisal fibre sales after the introduction of synthetic fibres in the international markets.

Patricia Scott, UNIDO representative in Tanzania said it became clear that the future of the sisal industry depend on the diversification of its uses.

Counting the advantages of sisal biogas utilization she said it adds value to the sisal waste, it solves environmental problems related to the disposal of the waste, it generates energy to be used in the sisal industry, yields a valuable biological fertilizer, and it reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

The Project cost was estimated at US$1,5 million. Financiers include the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), UNIDO, the Tanzanian Government and privately owned company Katani Limited.


East African Business Week (via AllAfrica): Dar Plans Power From Sisal Waste - October 1, 2007.

Biopact: The bioeconomy at work: oil crisis boosts African sisal industry - December 18, 2006

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Syntec Biofuel acquires catalyst technology for biomass-to-liquids production

Canada's Syntec Biofuel announces that it has signed a definitive purchase agreement with Montilla Capital Inc. to acquire catalyst technology being developed for converting syngas obtained from biomass and biogas into synthetic biofuels, specifically alcohols (ethanol, butanol, methanol and propanol). The agreement includes all the research and development assets used at their laboratory.

Development and research of the catalysts commenced in 2001 in laboratories at the University of British Columbia, and since 2005 have been further developed in house. Syntec is now in phase two development, refining its catalysts using non-precious metals for long term stability tests under industrial conditions and expects to be ready to file a second patent application within the next 6 months. Syntec has undertaken to raise up US$3 million dollars to ramp up technical staff, purchase equipment and provide working capital for development, testing and quantifying the life of the catalysts prior to commercialization.

Against the backdrop of the current ethanol boom, analysts concur that biofuels produced from food crops like corn or rapeseed are not a long-term solution to oil dependence. Discussions increasingly focus on second generation production technologies that can utilize renewable and waste feed stocks such as wood waste, switch grass, agricultural waste and residues from current ethanol producers (corn stover and sugar bagasse).
The industry recognizes that production of corn to ethanol has a negative impact on consumer food prices and farm land while cellulosic conversion of waste products are going to spawn the next generation of growth in the ethanol industry. [...] With oil prices now exceeding $70 a barrel the use of ethanol as a fuel additive is the only option available to reduce our reliance on imported oil. - Michael Jackson, President of Syntec Biofuel
Second generation bioconversion processes can be grouped into two broad pathways: biochemical and thermochemical conversion. Within the latter category, so-called biomass-to-liquids (BtL) processes are one of the options. They consist of gasifying biomass into a syngas, which is then liquefied via catalytic synthesis into a range of ultra-clean 'synthethic biofuels'.

Syntec Biofuel is developing this process, but with a specific focus on non-precious metal catalysts to synthesize specific alcohols (schematic, click to enlarge). High pressure catalytic synthesis requires substantial energy to operate and the risk associated with the high pressure is significant. Syntec Biofuels instead will utilize low pressure catalytic synthesis, which has been used for methanol production for many decades:
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Unlike the current fermentation processes used for first generation biofuels, Syntec's catalysts will produce biofuels from virtually unlimited biomass sources such as municipal waste, wood waste such as saw dust and bark from lumber mills, corn stover and sugar bagasse from existing ethanol producers, waste gas, such as biogas from landfills, sewage, manure, and producer gas (thermal gasification of biomass or other carbonaceous material such as municipal solid waste).

Syntec's revenue model will be based on Joint Venture projects, licensing fee for use of the Syntec technology and a royalty of approximately 7.5 cents per gallon of alcohol produced plus a commission on the sale of catalysts to licensees.

The Company has agreed to issue 11,000,000 shares in exchange for the Syntec Assets and will assume liabilities not exceeding $350,000. The purchase of the Assets has been approved by the board of Directors of Syntec Biofuel Inc. Syntec’s current business is in the animal food and supplement sector, which the Company proposes to phase out in due course.

The first phase of the development of the catalysts was funded through private equity as well as the Canadian government agencies, National Research Council of Canada and Natural Resources Canada.

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British recycling company to export wood chips to Germany for bioenergy

A huge mountain of wood chippings from Dorset, in the UK, is to be shipped to mainland Europe where it will be used to provide energy to power homes and businesses in Germany. Work on moving the 2,000 tonnes of chippings from Eco Composting’s 13-acre site at Parley, on the outskirts of Bournemouth International Airport, got underway this week.

The company chose to export the biomass rather than sending it to landfill, after its customer, chipboard manufacturer Kronanspan, in north Wales, raised the material quality specification meaning that recycled wood from civic amenity sites can not be used to make chipboard. Record electricity and fossil fuel prices (including coal) and efficient, dedicated biomass power plants in Europe make the trade of such 'opportunity fuels' feasible.

Waste management specialist SITA UK has worked closely with Eco Composting, its sub-contractor, and Gloucestershire-based company Boomeco to find a ‘green friendly’ solution for the disposal of the wood. The wood comes from household recycling centres across Dorset which are operated by SITA UK on behalf of local councils.

The chippings, equivalent to about 100 truckloads, are being taken to Southampton Docks ready for shipment to Europe. On arrival in Germany the wood will be transferred to a biomass plant in the north of the country for burning, generating electricity for homes and businesses.
SITA UK, Eco and Boomeco have worked hard on finding a safe and environmentally friendly solution to the disposal of this wood. It’s good news that it will be used to provide clean and green energy for homes and businesses. Of course, it would be even better news if the wood chippings were to remain on our site and used to provide power for Dorset homes. To date, our plans have met with great support and we’re hopeful planning permission will be granted. - Andy Hill, Eco’s Sales and Marketing Director
Biomass plants were highlighted in last year’s Stern Report on Global Warming as a way of tackling climate change. They burn wood products but in a way that is carbon neutral and, therefore, does not contribute towards global warming.

Eco Composting has officially submitted a planning application to build its own £7 million biomass plant on its existing composting and wood recycling site at Parley. If approved it would be one of the first facilities of its type in the UK. The 25,000 tonne capacity facility would be capable of generating 2.7MW of electricity a year. The electricity would be sent to the national grid at nearby Redhill and be enough to power about 5,000 local homes:
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Currently there is only one other biomass plant operating in the UK although a number are in the pipeline and they have been operating in Europe for five years. According to Hill, they not only make environmental, but economic, sense.

Eco estimate that the wood chippings being shipped to Germany would provide power for about 5,000 homes for six weeks. If permission is granted, Eco’s biomass plant could be up and running by 2009.

Eco Composting is one of the UK’s leading organics recycling firms, annually processing 120,000 tonnes of material on its 14-acre site at Parley, Dorset. End products include turf, enriched topsoil, compost and woodchip. Eco employs 29 staff and recorded a £3.5m turnover in the year to December 31, 2006.

Biomass trade is growing rapidly and is moving beyond regional borders. Spot coal prices have reached all time records in Europe, at over US$100 per tonne (CIF), whereas carbon prices have remained firm. This has prompted some major power companies to import biofuels from other countries. Recently, Dutch power company Essent started importing coffee husks from Brazil, to be used for co-firing at one of its coal plants. It has contracted to import 5,000 tons in a first stage, with an option to purchase a second load of 20,000 tonnes.

Depending on their bulk density, biomass residues from agriculture, forestry and industry can be shipped over long distances competitively. However, freight prices have increased considerably over the past years.

Picture: Andy Hill, Eco’s Sales and Marketing Director, with some of the wood chippings which are bound for Germany. Credit: Eco Composting.

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