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    Gate Petroleum Co. is planning to build a 55 million-gallon liquid biofuels terminal in Jacksonville, Florida. The terminal is expected to cost $90 million and will be the first in the state designed primarily for biofuels. It will receive and ship ethanol and biodiesel via rail, ship and truck and provide storage for Gate and for third parties. The biofuels terminal is set to open in 2010. Florida Times-Union - October 19, 2007.

    China Holdings Inc., through its controlled subsidiary China Power Inc., signed a development contract with the HeBei Province local government for the rights to develop and construct 50 MW of biomass renewable energy projects utilizing straw. The projects have a total expected annual power generating capacity of 400 million kWh and expected annual revenues of approximately US$33.3 million. Total investment in the projects is approximately US$77.2 million, 35 percent in cash and 65 percent from China-based bank loans with preferred interest rates with government policy protection for the biomass renewable energy projects. Full production is expected in about two years. China Holdings - October 18, 2007.

    Canadian Bionenergy Corporation, supplier of biodiesel in Canada, has announced an agreement with Renewable Energy Group, Inc. to partner in the construction of a biodiesel production facility near Edmonton, Alberta. The company broke ground yesterday on the construction of the facility with an expected capacity of 225 million litres (60 million gallons) per year of biodiesel. Together, the companies also intend to forge a strategic marketing alliance to better serve the North American marketplace by supplying biodiesel blends and industrial methyl esters. Canadian Bioenergy - October 17, 2007.

    Leading experts in organic solar cells say the field is being damaged by questionable reports about ever bigger efficiency claims, leading the community into an endless and dangerous tendency to outbid the last report. In reality these solar cells still show low efficiencies that will need to improve significantly before they become a success. To counter the hype, scientists call on the community to press for independent verification of claimed efficiencies. Biopact sees a similar trend in the field of biofuels from algae, in which press releases containing unrealistic yield projections and 'breakthroughs' are released almost monthly. Eurekalert - October 16, 2007.

    The Colorado Wood Utilization and Marketing Program at Colorado State University received a $65,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service to expand the use of woody biomass throughout Colorado. The purpose of the U.S. Department of Agriculture grant program is to provide financial assistance to state foresters to accelerate the adoption of woody biomass as an alternative energy source. Colorado State University - October 12, 2007.

    Indian company Naturol Bioenergy Limited announced that it will soon start production from its biodiesel facility at Kakinada, in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The facility has an annual production capacity of 100,000 tons of biodiesel and 10,000 tons of pharmaceutical grade glycerin. The primary feedstock is crude palm oil, but the facility was designed to accomodate a variety of vegetable oil feedstocks. Biofuel Review - October 11, 2007.

    Brazil's state energy company Petrobras says it will ship 9 million liters of ethanol to European clients next month in its first shipment via the northeastern port of Suape. Petrobras buys the biofuel from a pool of sugar cane processing plants in the state of Pernambuco, where the port is also located. Reuters - October 11, 2007.

    Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation, a leader in biomass-to-biofuel technology, announces that it has completed a $10.5 million equity financing with Quercus Trust, an environmentally oriented fund, and several other private investors. Ardour Capital Inc. of New York served as financial advisor in the transaction. Business Wire - October 10, 2007.

    Cuban livestock farmers are buying distillers dried grains (DDG), the main byproduct of corn based ethanol, from biofuel producers in the U.S. During a trade mission of Iowan officials to Cuba, trade officials there said the communist state will double its purchases of the dried grains this year. DesMoines Register - October 9, 2007.

    Brasil Ecodiesel, the leading Brazilian biodiesel producer company, recorded an increase of 57.7% in sales in the third quarter of the current year, in comparison with the previous three months. Sales volume stood at 53,000 cubic metres from August until September, against 34,000 cubic metres of the biofuel between April and June. The company is also concluding negotiations to export between 1,000 to 2,000 tonnes of glycerine per month to the Asian market. ANBA - October 4, 2007.

    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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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Energreen Development to produce biogas from drought tolerant sorghum

Energreen Development is to produce bioenergy from a drought tolerant hybrid sorghum that yields high amounts of biomass but requires no irrigation. Energreen is a French company uniting the expertise of Sud Agro S.A., a cooperative involved in development assistance in poor countries, and of FADIA (International federation for industrial and agroalimentary development assistance). It will utilize the proceeds of its green energy sales to finance bioenergy projects in developing countries.

The company will produce energy from biomass in different forms and systems: cogeneration, anaerobic digestion and biogas, liquid biofuels and biohydrogen.

Its first large project is the production of biomethane from the medium-maturing H133 biomass sorghum, a very robust hybrid which requires low amounts of inputs. Sorghum is a genus of many tropical grass species often associated with semi-arid regions. There are grain, sweet, fiber and now hybrid sorghums bred specifically for biomass production. These hybrids have been made to thrive in European conditions. The H133 grows to a height of 4 to 4.5 meters (13-15ft). Contrary to maize, miscanthus, switchgrass or other energy crops, the hybrid sorghum requires no irrigation and less fertilizer but trials show it yields between 30 and 40 tons of dry matter biomass per hectare (12 - 16 tons/acre) (graph, click to enlarge).

According to Energreen the H133 sorghum is highly suitable for the production of biogas, yielding around 14,000 to 16,000 cubic meters per hectare. Depending on the CH4 content of the gas, this amount of biogas, when upgraded to natural gas quality comes down to an average of 7600 cubic meters of methane, enough to power a car for 80,000 kilometers. This is much more useable energy than can be obtained from converting biomass into liquid fuels. One hectare of H133 sorghum based biogas provides enough renewable, carbon-neutral fuel to power five average French passenger cars for an entire year:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::
In Europe, biogas is being produced increasingly from dedicated energy crops. Most often, silage maize or purpose bred high yielding energy maize is used. But the search is on for crops that thrive in places where maize doesn't do well. Sorghums are candidates, as researchers from the North-Sea Bioenergy Partnership already found out (earlier post). Recently, a German team too launched a project to identify different sorghum varieties for biogas (earlier post).

Energreen found that H133 based biogas production has a very strong energy balance. Given its low inputs, the crop's greenhouse gas balance is excellent as well. This ensures that power companies and natural gas stations can obtain relatively large amounts of carbon credits when buying electricity or biomethane from Energreen. Alternatively, the upgraded fuel can be sold to natural gas filling stations to power fleets.

Energreen is negotiating with Electricité de France (EDF), the large state-run power company, to sell the electricity produced from carbon-neutral biogas within the framework of the country's Agenda 21, focused on supporting renewables.

In Europe, biogas is being developed on a large scale for the production of fuels for stationary power generation (to be used in natural gas plants or in fuel cells), as well as for the transport sector (earlier post and here). It is being fed into the natural gas grid on a large scale (previous post and especially here) or in dedicated pipelines supplying cities, while some are creating real biorefineries around it that deliver green specialty chemicals, fuels and power (earlier post). The green gas can be made by the anaerobic fermentation of biomass, either obtained from dedicated energy crops, or from industrial, municipal or agricultural waste-streams.

Of all biofuels, biogas delivers most useable energy per hectare of crops. It is also the least carbon intensive production path, with some biogas pathways actually delivering carbon-negative bioenergy (earlier post and here). Importantly, biogas can be integrated in carbon capture and storage systems (CCS), in a way that presents advantages over other CCS pathways (earlier post).

Some projections show biogas may replace all of Europe's natural gas imports from Russia by 2020 and yield up to 500 billion cubic meters per year (earlier post).

Campagnes et Environnement: Les atouts du sorgho biomasse - October 19, 2007.

Energreen Development: Sorgho biogas.

Yield data taken from: Andreina Belocchi, Fabrizio Quaranta, Valerio Mazzon, Nicola Berardo, Ersilio Desiderio, "Fibre sorghum: influence of the harvesting methods
on plant moisture and fibre content"
, Interactive European Network for Industrial Crops and their Applications, s.d.

Biopact: Germans research sorghum varieties for biogas production - April 12, 2007

Biopact: "North Sea Bioenergy partnership plants sorghum and sudangrass for biogas" - October 25, 2006.

Biopact: "France develops 'super maize' for biogas" - October 04, 2006.

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Enertrag to invest €19 million in world's first hybrid biomass-wind-hydrogen power station

One of the world's largest wind power companies, Germany's Enertrag AG, announces [*German] it will invest €19 ($27) million in the first hybrid power station based on biomass and wind power, the excess electricity of which will be used for the production of hydrogen. The hydrogen fuel provides back-up to the system and helps meet peak demand; excess hydrogen will also be used by third parties as a clean fuel. The complex will thus be capable of supplying both heat, power, and fuel entirely from renewable sources.

Wind power has a large energy potential but its main problem is the fact that it can not supply base load and peak power. Wind power is highly intermittent with electricity output varying from hour to hour and from day to day. Storage technologies are either inefficient or costly. In practise this means that, in Germany (world leader in wind energy), the base load is provided by ordinary fossil fuel plants. Some have used this argument against 'intermittent' wind power, saying the technology actually perpetuates coal based power generation and can not be called 'clean' because its expansion has effectively meant the expansion of fossil fuel use.

However, proponents of wind energy have called this the 'base load fallacy': there are relatively simple techniques to replace coal with other primary energy sources that can guarantee the baseload (earlier post). One of the most obvious solutions is to utilize renewable biomass instead. Biomass is stored solar energy. It can be physically transported, traded, stored and used whenever power or heat is required. The resource can easily cover both base and peak loads. Coupling renewables to each other in principle makes for robust energy systems. This is exactly what Energtrag will be demonstrating.

Near Prenzlau, capital city of the district of Uckermark in the state of Brandenburg, Energtrag will build a high-tech power complex that will supply both heat, power and hydrogen fuel in a variable way. The plant, which will integrate an existing wind farm and biomass plant, will have a combined capacity of 120 MW. The 500 kilowatt hydrogen production unit will be powered by excess electricity from the hybrid plant. Industrial-scale hydrogen production will commence in early 2008.

According to a study [*.pdf] on hybrid power generation by Enertrag, wind power produces 75% of its electricity in a time-frame that covers only 25% of total operational time. This means electricity generated from wind power is highly variable at several different timescales: from hour to hour, daily, and seasonally (map, click to enlarge, shows current output of Enertrag wind farms near Prenzlau - data change continuously). But it also means that - with biomass providing a robust base load - a lot of excess power becomes available that can be utilized for the production of storable hydrogen.

The integration of the hybrid renewable energy complex and the supply of different services - heat, electricity, back-up power, and hydrogen fuel - is based on an innovative data- and control management system. The supply of each product can thus be optimised according to the plant's own needs and depending on external demand. This allows for a highly efficient system:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The hybrid power plant's outline was presented at the 4th Prenzlauer Energiemesse, where, from October 19 to 20, more than forty of Germany's most innovative energy companies present their projects which they think will 'power the future'.

The project is being developed in partnership with experts from the University of Stralsund, the Technical University of Braunschweig and the international hydrogen community.

Enertrag already operates an experimental hybrid power plant based on solar and wind power located on the North Sea island of Pellworm. But there the efficiency of the solar plant is limited. The new biomass-wind station coupled to hydrogen production will be the first medium scale, fully operational hybrid plant.

Enertrag is a power company focused on the production of electricity and heat generated entirely from renewable sources, without dependence on fossil fuels. It is one of the world's largest wind power companies, with over 380 wind parks concentrated in Europe producing over a billion kilowatthours of electricity per year. Its portfolio supplies energy that can cover the needs of around one million people. Enertrag employs 230 people. The company's revenues grow at a yearly rate of around 20 percent.

Map courtesy of Enertrag AG.


Enertrag AG: Startschuss für das ENERTRAG-Hybrid-Kraftwerk - October 19, 2007.

Enertrag: Energieversorgung der Zukunft – ganz einfach? [*.pdf] - Dauerthal, - February 20, 2005.

Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg: Hybridkraftwerk in der Uckermark - October 19, 2007.

Welt Online: Kraftwerk bei Prenzlau soll Strom aus Wind und Biomasse erzeugen - October 16, 2007.

Biopact: Energy major Total will not invest in wind power - the base-load fallacy - October 15, 2007

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