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    Massey University and Palmerston North City Council in New Zealand have found a way to increase the production of biogas to help drive the council's cogeneration engine to produce steam and electricity by co-digesting whey, an unwanted byproduct from milk processing, with sludge from a wastewater treatment plant. A full scale trial is under way at the Totara Road Treatment Plant to develop a cheap method of disposing of whey, increase gas production from the city's digesters and ultimately earn more carbon credits. Manawatu Standard - October 30, 2007.

    U.S. oil prices and Brent crude rocketed to all-time highs again on a record-low dollar, tensions in the Middle East and worries over energy supply shortages ahead of the northern hemisphere's winter. Now even wealthy countries like South Korea are warning that the record prices will damage economic growth. In the developing world, the situation is outright catastrophic. Korea Times - October 26, 2007.

    Ethablog's Henrique Oliveira, a young Brazilian biofuels business expert, is back online. From April to September 2007, he traveled around Brazil comparing the Brazilian and American biofuels markets. In August he was joined by Tom MacDonald, senior alcohol fuels specialist with the California Energy Commission. Henrique reports about his trip with a series of photo essays. EthaBlog - October 24, 2007.

    Italy's Enel is to invest around €400 mln in carbon capture and storage and is looking now for a suitable site to store CO2 underground. Enel's vision of coal's future is one in which coal is used to produce power, to produce ash and gypsum as a by-product for cement, hydrogen as a by-product of coal gasification and CO2 which is stored underground. Carbon capture and storage techniques can be applied to biomass and biofuels, resulting in carbon-negative energy. Reuters - October 22, 2007.

    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.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

MIT study: human-generated ozone could damage crops - temperate regions hit hard, tropics spared

A novel MIT study concludes that increasing levels of ozone due to the growing use of fossil fuels could damage global vegetation, resulting in serious costs to the world's economy. Ozone is a form of oxygen that is an atmospheric pollutant at ground level. In the upper troposphere it acts as a greenhouse gas, absorbing some of the infrared energy emitted by the earth. The analysis, reported in the November issue of Energy Policy, focused on how three environmental changes (increases in temperature, carbon dioxide and ozone) associated with human activity will affect crops, pastures and forests.

The research shows that increases in temperature and in carbon dioxide may actually benefit vegetation. However, those benefits may be more than offset by the detrimental effects of increases in ozone, notably on crops. Northern temperate regions generally benefit from climate change because higher temperatures extend their growing season. However, the crop losses associated with high ozone concentrations will be significant here. In contrast, the tropics, already warm, do not benefit from further warming, but they are not as hard hit by ozone damage because ozone-precursor emissions are lower in the tropics. The net result: regions such as the United States, China and Europe would need to import food, and supplying those imports would be a benefit to tropical countries [who have a very large agricultural potential left, ed.].

At Biopact we think the Machiavellian argument often heard that temperate regions (which happen to house the industrialised world) stand to benefit agriculturally from increased levels of atmospheric CO2 and therefor shouldn't put too much effort in fighting climate change, is hereby partly debunked.

The MIT scientists say the economic cost of the damage will be moderated by changes in land use and by agricultural trade, with some regions more able to adapt than others. But the overall economic consequences will be considerable. According to the analysis, if nothing is done, by 2100 the global value of crop production could fall by 10 to 12 percent.
Even assuming that best-practice technology for controlling ozone is adopted worldwide, we see rapidly rising ozone concentrations in the coming decades. That result is both surprising and worrisome. - John M. Reilly, associate director of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change
While others have looked at how changes in climate and in carbon dioxide concentrations may affect vegetation, Reilly and colleagues added to that mix changes in tropospheric ozone. Moreover, they looked at the combined impact of all three environmental 'stressors' at once. Changes in ecosystems and human health and other impacts of potential concern were left outside the of study.

They performed their analysis using the MIT Integrated Global Systems Model, which combines linked state-of-the-art economic, climate and agricultural computer models to project emissions of greenhouse gases and ozone precursors based on human activity and natural systems.

Results for the impacts of climate change and rising carbon dioxide concentrations (assuming business as usual, with no emissions restrictions) brought few surprises. For example, the estimated carbon dioxide and temperature increases would benefit vegetation in much of the world:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

But the effects of ozone are decidedly different. Without emissions restrictions, growing fuel combustion worldwide will push global average ozone up 50 percent by 2100 (graph, click to enlarge). That increase will have a disproportionately large impact on vegetation because ozone concentrations in many locations will rise above the critical level where adverse effects are observed in plants and ecosystems.

Crops are hardest hit. Model predictions show that ozone levels tend to be highest in regions where crops are grown. In addition, crops are particularly sensitive to ozone, in part because they are fertilized.
When crops are fertilized, their stomata open up, and they suck in more air. And the more air they suck in, the more ozone damage occurs. It's a little like going out and exercising really hard on a high-ozone day. - John M. Reilly
What is the net effect of the three environmental changes? Without emissions restrictions, yields from forests and pastures decline slightly or even increase because of the climate and carbon dioxide effects. But crop yields fall by nearly 40 percent worldwide.

However, those yield losses do not translate directly into economic losses. According to the economic model, the world adapts by allocating more land to crops. That adaptation, however, comes at a cost. The use of additional resources brings a global economic loss of 10-12 percent of the total value of crop production.

Global estimates do not tell the whole story, however, as regional impacts vary significantly. The net result of the projections show regions such as the United States, China and Europe would need to import food, and supplying those imports would be a benefit to tropical countries.

Reilly warns that the study's climate projections may be overly optimistic. The researchers are now incorporating a more realistic climate simulation into their analysis.

Reilly's colleagues are from MIT and the Marine Biological Laboratory. The research was supported by the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

It is part of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), an Institute-wide initiative designed to help transform the global energy system to meet the challenges of the future. MITEI includes research, education, campus energy management and outreach activities, an interdisciplinary approach that covers all areas of energy supply and demand, security and environmental impact.

Graphs: The upper figure shows MIT projections of global average percentage change in crop yield under three scenarios. In the highest curve, emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) are unregulated, and any impact of ozone is excluded. In the lowest curve, GHGs are unregulated, and crop damage from ozone is included. In the middle curve, GHGs are regulated, and ozone damage is included. The message: rising temperatures and CO2 concentrations cause crops to thrive (top curve), but that positive effect is more than offset by the negative impacts of rising ozone concentrations (bottom curve). When GHG emissions are regulated, fuel combustion declines, reducing ozone concentrations and related crop damage (middle curve). The lower figure shows changes in total crop production under the same three scenarios. While crop yields may drop dramatically, crop production never declines by more than 8 percent because the world adapts by allocating more resources to growing food. Courtesy: John Reilly / MIT.

J. Reilly, et al. "Global economic effects of changes in crops, pasture, and forests due to changing climate, carbon dioxide, and ozone", Energy Policy, Volume 35, Issue 11, November 2007, Pages 5370-5383, doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2006.01.040

MIT News: Human-generated ozone will damage crops, according to MIT study - October 26, 2007.

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Brazilian and Angolan companies in $200 million agreement to build integrated sugar, bioenergy and biofuels facility in Angola

During Brazilian president Lula's latest Africa tour, countries on the continent joined his call to invest in bioenergy and biofuels in order to mitigate the catastrophic effects of high oil prices and to ensure energy security. Two of Africa's largest oil producers - the Republic of Congo and Angola - signed bilateral biofuel agreements with Brazil, which is willing to share technologies and knowledge. Congo welcomes biofuels because the country's oil output is declining (earlier post). Angola is interested in the renewable energy source because its production could help revive the agricultural sector in which the majority of its population is employed.

During Lula's visit to Luanda, Brazilian construction and engineering firm Odebrecht (which will own 40%), Angola's Damer (40%) and the country's state-run oil company Sonangol (20%) signed an accord [*Portuguese] to set up a joint venture to produce sugar, bioenergy and ethanol in the country's north-central Malanje Province (map, click to enlarge). The new bioenergy company will be called Biocom ('Companhia de Bioenergia de Angola').

The joint venture, which involves an investment of $200 million, is expected to produce 150 million tons of sugar per year, 50 million liters of alcohol and 140 megawatts of electricity. Construction will begin in the first semester of 2008, and the facilities should come online in 2010.

Wolney Longhini, chief negotiator for Odebrecht, said Biocom will initially be producing 30 per cent of the planned capacity, 65 per cent in 2011 and will fully operational in 2012. According to Longhini, the bioenergy and biofuels will primarily supply the local Angolan market because, despite being a major oil producer, it has a large energy deficit. Sugar will however be the main product, also destined for the local market.

Between this month (October 2007) and early 2008, the partners will spend up to $2 million on feasibility studies, on the training of local staff and on extension services that must help rural communities become efficient sugar cane producers.

Biocom will be producing sugar by evaporating raw sugar cane juice (garapa), which extracts around 78 per cent of the sugar contained in the juice. Ethanol will be produced from the residues. When the cane is crushed a fibrous residue is obtained, known as bagasse. This biomass waste, along with leaves and waste heat from sugar processing, will be utilized for the production of electricity in a steam turbine facility with a capacity of 140MW.

Angola is one of Africa's largest countries, developing rapidly because of its oil sector. However, the country's largely impoverished, rural population (63% of the total) does not see much of this economic growth. Angola is still recovering from a devastating civil war that lasted for decades and destroyed critical parts of its infrastructures as well as communities. Because of this war, the country's agricultural sector declined, despite its major potential.

Luckily, things are taking a turn for the better. Recently the UN's FAO announced that Angola is set to become self-sufficient in food due to the revival of its agricultural sector which has once again begun tapping the country's immense natural potential. Angola counts only 16 million inhabitants who currently use up less than 5% of all potentially arable land:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

What is more, Angola is not only becoming self-sufficient in food is beginning to look at becoming a distribution base for agricultural products to be supplied to the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) (Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa).

Angola's agricultural potential is so large that it is set to become a 'biofuel superpower'. When a fraction of the arable land is turned to efficient agriculture for food, Angola is estimated to have the potential to export around 6 Exajoules of per year, the equivalent of 2.7 million barrels of oil per day. This potential is obtained without any deforestation and after meeting the food, fodder and fiber needs of its rapidly growing population and livestock base.

Because of this vast potential, several bioenergy investors have entered the country. Amongst them are Italy's state-owned energy major ENI, which signed an agreement with Brazil to join biofuel efforts in the country (more here), and a Portuguese-Angolan group which launched a large biodiesel project in the North-Western Bengo province (earlier post).

Macauhub: Fábrica angolana deve iniciar produção de etanol em 2010, afirma brasileira Odebrecht - October 29, 2007.

Biopact: Biofuels 'superpower' Angola soon to be self-sufficient in food production - FAO - January 31, 2007

Biopact: Italy and Brazil to join biofuel efforts in Africa - March 21, 2007

Biopact: Portuguese-Angolan group launches biodiesel project in Angola - March 17, 2007

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Expert: China's biomass power plants to be profitable in three years

China has recently overtaken the U.S. as the largest emittor of greenhouse gases, mainly because of its intensive reliance on coal. The country is however investing in the renewables sector, but the appeal of cheap and abundant coal remains strong. One sector that might begin to compete rather soon is made up of the many biomass power plants that are beginning to appear in the energy landscape. These plants are expected to record profits in three year's time, though currently they are striking a balance in cost and economic return, according to an official with the country's leading state-owned biomass-based power producer.

With core technologies sourced from Europe, China's largest producer of electricity powered from biomass - the National Bio Energy Corp. (NBE) a subsidiary of China's State Grid - was assigned by the State Council to carry out pioneer work in the field. Now, the company has not less than 30 such projects under construction with six of them already producing electricity, according to Zhang Yanru, project manager of the company's science and technology department.

We earlier presented a short overview of these biomass plants and the feedstocks they utilize, here. The NBE's largest competitor is Dragon Power, a Beijing-based company which plans to raise as much as 15 billion yuan (€1.45/US$2bn) from an initial public offering in Hong Kong to build not less than 100 biomass power plants across the People's Republic (previous post). Another important bioenergy producer is China Enersave, which retrofits existing coal plants and turns them into facilities that generate power from biomass (more here).

The NBE aims to have around 2,050 megawatts or 2.05 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity of biomass power projects under construction and in operation by 2010, Zhang says. According to China's newest renewable energy development targets, biomass power will become the second largest sector after hydropower and grow almost three-fold to reach 5.5 GW in 2010 from 2 GW in 2005, and 15 times as much by 2020, to 30 GW (table, click to enlarge, and seeearlier post on China's new $265 billion Renewables Program).

As the raw materials of the projects are mostly forms of straw, the cost of power production varies according to the quality of straws in different regions and seasons, but on average, it costs around RMB 0.5 (€0.046/$0.067) to produce a kilowatt hour of electricity. But even with the RMB 0.25 (€0.023/$0.033) subsidy from the government, the on-grid tariff such power plants get from the grid operators can still hardly cover the costs. As biomass power generation technologies progress and rising awareness of farmers to keep such straws in good quality, Zhang said she is positive that the biomass power plants will be able turn a profit in three years.

China produces 600 million tons of rural straw annually, around 300 million tons of which can be used as energy, which is equivalent to about 150 million tons of standard coal, whereas dedicated energy crops can replace another 400 million tons per annum. China's current coal consumption stands at roughly 2.5 billion tonnes per annum:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

However, the country is still lacking an efficient system to collect the biomass material from dispersed farmers. In the meanwhile, farmers are still lacking awareness that straws should be kept in good quality, have a value and can be turned in to the power plants.

The NBE started three pilot biomass power projects in Shan county of Shandong Province, Suqian in Jiangsu Province and the Wei county in Hebei Province from 2003 and signed an agreement with the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to sell the emission reduction credits from the projects from 2007 to 2012.

Further, the company recently started cooperating with bioenergy companies in Sweden to build integrated green power plants there with the aim to achieve tech transfers and share experiences (earlier post).

In addition to NBE, the country's power producers such as Guodian Group, are all actively constructing biomass-based power plants, mostly in the provinces of Shandong, Jilin, Jiangsu, Henan, Heilongjiang and Liaoning.

Other particularly interesting bioenergy initiatives in China an EU-China project focused on biomass co-firing (more here). The €590,000 China-EU Bioenergy Project, funded by the European Commission, is a two-year initiative that will evaluate commercial possibilities of co-firing biomass in China’s coal-fired power stations to help cut the country’s dependence on fossil fuel and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Australia recently announced that it is going to cooperate with the People's Republic on developing carbon capture technologies (earlier post).

When carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems are applied to biomass power plants, they can yield carbon-negative energy - a feat that no other form of renewable energy nor nuclear power can achieve.

Interfax: China's national biomass power projects to profit in three years - leading developer - October 29, 2007.

Biopact: A closer look at China's biomass power plants - April 19, 2007

Biopact: China unveils $265 billion renewable energy plan, aims for 15% renewables by 2020 - September 06, 2007

Biopact: China's Dragon Power to raise US$2 billion for 100 biomass power plants - August 07, 2007

Biopact: China EnerSave retrofits coal plants to burn biomass - June 18, 2007

Biopact: EU project to help China use biomass in coal plants - November 23, 2006

Biopact: Australia and China partner to develop carbon capture and storage technologies - September 07, 2007

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Canada's forestry sector and WWF team up to create first fully carbon-neutral industry with bioenergy and carbon sinks

In an effort to tackle climate change, the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) announced today that Canada's forest products industry, one of the largest in the world, is setting a new bar for environmental responsibility and action: industry-wide carbon-neutrality by 2015 without the purchase of carbon offset credits. An initial 2-year partnership with WWF-Canada will inform and help guide the initiative. Ultimately, the ambition of the initiative is to make the sector carbon-negative by managing carbon sinks and bioenergy projects. It is hoped the effort will set an example for the forestry industry in other countries.

FPAC and WWF-Canada have initially agreed on a 2-year project that will focus on:
  • Using case studies, develop recommendations and proposed guidelines for bioenergy production and wood product manufacturing so that forest product use and greenhouse gas savings are maximized, while biodiversity impacts are minimized.
  • Identifying potential greenhouse gas savings from renewable energy, cogeneration and other mitigation options.
  • Enhancing forestry-related life cycle analysis
  • Working together on landscape-level and stand-level measures that are both carbon and conservation friendly.
The collaboration will draw on the findings of a report commissioned recently by the FPAC, and produced by the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI) titled "The Greenhouse Gas and Carbon Profile of the Canadian Forest Products Industry", making the Canadian forest products industry the first forest industry in the world to assess and report on its total carbon profile. The NCASI report will provide a foundation from which the industry can identify areas for continued progress and improvement.

The NCASI report documents the forest products industry's carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) profile which includes three distinct parts: emissions, sequestration, and avoided emissions. Emissions consist of transfers of GHGs to the atmosphere from forest products industry facilities or from elsewhere in the forest products industry value chain. They consist primarily of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion (including indirect emissions associated with purchased electricity - table, click to enlarge) and methane from decomposition of discarded products in landfills.

The sequestration component consists of carbon contained in and transferred between forests, forest products, and landfills (graph, click to enlarge). Avoided emissions consist of emissions that would have occurred were it not for certain industry activities. While avoided emissions are very difficult to quantify and not claimed in the same manner as direct emissions or sequestration, they are critical to understanding the overall carbon profile of the forest sector.

To achieve their carbon-neutral status, FPAC members, working in partnership with key stakeholders including governments and environmental organizations, will pursue an aggressive strategy focused on:

Reducing direct and indirect emissions:
  • Becoming energy self-sufficient - the industry will continue to drive additional energy-efficiencies by switching from fossil fuels to more renewable energy sources such as biomass.
  • Adoption of new more energy-efficient technologies.
  • Increased diversion of used forest products from landfills.
  • Increased use of landfill capping systems.
  • Increased biomass cogeneration opportunities
Increasing the sequestration potential of forests and products:
  • Identifying opportunities to maintain and enhance carbon storage in forests through landscape planning and sustainable forest management practices.
  • Enhancing the pool of carbon stored in the value chain and minimizing emissions from end-of- life disposal.
Increasing avoided emissions:
  • Determining ways to maximize recycling of paper and wood products.
  • Understanding the carbon implications of wood-based materials in relation to available substitutes.
FPAC and WWF-Canada agree that some of the greatest opportunities for the future of the forest industry will be realized by providing leadership in sustainability and environmental performance. Already the organizations, working together, have helped chart a path for more sustainable management in commercial forestry by developing a toolkit for high conservation value forests (HCVF):
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Climate change is the issue on the agenda of industry leaders across sectors, as well as governments and consumers. For the forest sector, climate change presents a number of complex challenges and opportunities. These include the indirect repercussions of global warming, such as pine beetle infestations, and the opportunity for the forest sector to position itself as a climate friendly sector. Yet, there is not enough conclusive research and no policy standards that clarify the right approach for making Canadian forestry climate friendly.

Over the past two decades, FPAC members have set the pace for facility upgrades and innovative processes in a continued effort to improve their environmental performance and limit their impact on climate change. In so doing, they have reduced their fossil-fuel dependence to the point where almost 60% of their pulp and paper facilities' energy needs are self-generated from renewable sources.

From an environmental perspective, these efforts have had the following results since 1990: a 45% cut in the use of fossil fuels, a 54% improvement in greenhouse gas emissions intensity, a 40% reduction in landfill waste, and a 44% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. These environmental improvements also bring distinct economic benefits, as FPAC members have increased their production by 20%.

The new initiative has the potential to not only move the industry towards carbon-neutrality by 2015 but to go beyond, potentially removing more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere than the sector emits. And, unlike other sectors that rely significantly on the purchase of offsets, it thinks it can get there without having to do so.
Climate change is the number one environmental threat facing the world today and becoming carbon neutral is the most significant step the forest products sector can take to reduce its overall environmental footprint. [...] WWF has already begun some groundbreaking research into the global potential of sustainable forestry for bioenergy supply and climate change mitigation, and their Climate Savers program has established a high standard of emission reductions among leaders in many business sectors.- Avrim Lazar, President and CEO of FPAC
WWF-Canada works to save nature by conserving species and protecting their habitats; by ensuring our use of natural resources is sustainable, and by helping individuals, companies and governments reduce pollution.

FPAC is the voice of Canada's wood, pulp and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade and environmental affairs. Canada's forest industry is an $80 billion dollar a year industry that represents 3% of Canada's GDP. The industry is one of Canada's largest employers, operating in over 320 Canadian communities and providing nearly 900,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country.

Picture: pulp mills are major emittors of greenhouse gases but they manage the resource that allows them to move away from the use of fossil fuels: biomass.

National Council for Air and Stream Improvement: Special Report No. 07-09: The Greenhouse Gas and Carbon Profile of the Canadian Forest Products Industry - October 2007.

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Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels announces $500,000 in seed grants for research

A joint center of the University of Colorado at Boulder (UCB), Colorado State University (CSU), the Colorado School of Mines (CSM), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and industry has announced $500,000 in grants to 10 teams pursuing renewable energy research ranging from the solar conversion of plant material for fuels to genetic crop engineering. The Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels, or C2B2, was founded in March 2007 by the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory, a consortium involving all four institutions. Its goal is to increase the production and use of energy from renewable resources. Several of the awarded projects go back to the U.S. Dept. of Energy's earlier Aquatic Species Program (discussed here), which aims to utilize algae for the production of biofuels.

Projects include the following:
  1. using genetic tools to engineer microbial communities known as biofilms that adhere to surfaces (closer look at biofilms here). More efficient biofilms can increase the production of biofuels made from the cellulose of plant leaves, stems and stalks. Led by C2B2 Managing Director and CU-Boulder Assistant Professor Ryan Gill involves in cooperation with CSU co-investigator Ken Reardon on the effort.
  2. developing specialized membranes to separate alcohol - a potent source of renewable energy - and water, which would eliminate the need for energy-sapping distillation processes often used for alcohol fuel production. Led by CU-Boulder scientists.
  3. rapid screening of microbes to find types particularly well suited for energy conversion processes. Led by CU-Boulder scientists.
  4. the recovery of sugar and enzymes during processes that break down complex carbohydrates like cellulose during biofuel production. Led by CU-Boulder scientists.
  5. genetic engineering of sugar beets, viewed by many as a model renewable energy crop. First winning CSU proposal.
  6. development of new technologies to stimulate algae to produce enough oils to be converted into biodiesel. Led by CSU Site Director Ken Reardon.
  7. a project to integrate the creation of bioplastics from plant byproducts in existing biorefineries. CSM awarded project, led by CSM Site Director John Dorgan.
  8. the technological and economic analysis of a proposed thermo-chemical plant to produce biofuels from cellulose. CSM awarded project.
  9. establishing a bioenergy-focused algae strain collection by the utilisation of cell sorting and robotic techniques to rapidly isolate and evaluate different species of microalgae for their suitability in biofuel production. Led by NREL Site Director Al Darzins, in collaboration with CSM's John Spear and Matt Posewitz.
  10. an exploration of the use of concentrated sunlight to convert algae into intermediate forms of synthesis gas, or syngas, which subsequently can be "shifted" to hydrogen or reformed to liquid fuels. The project is led by C2B2 Executive Director Alan Weimer, a professor in CU-Boulder's chemical and biological engineering department, in collaboration with scientists from the U.S. Dept. of Energy's NREL.
The 10 winning proposals, each for $50,000, were selected by members of C2B2's 27 industry sponsors, including such companies as Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Dow Chemical and Shell Global Solutions.

The mission of C2B2 is to improve the fundamental understanding of the conversion of biomass to fuels and products and develop viable technologies that can be commercialized by its industry partners in relatively short order:
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The center, which has a current budget of nearly $2 million, is funded by the four institutions, state matching funds and industry sponsor fees. The annual budget is expected to reach $5 million to $10 million in the next several years as sponsored research increases and memberships from industry collaborators grow.
The biggest winners in the development of C2B2 will be the students. I can't imagine why any high school student interested in biofuels and renewable energy would consider leaving the state to attend college elsewhere with the opportunities C2B2 provides at the three Colorado universities. - C2B2 Executive Director Alan Weimer, a professor in CU-Boulder's chemical and biological engineering department
Graduate students at four institutions will meet twice a year with C2B2 industry partners to present their research findings, an opportunity CU-Boulder Vice Chancellor for Research Stein Sture said is unusual in the arena of higher education. "The chance for these students to find jobs in their fields when they have finished school is heightened considerably by these interactions with the companies," said Sture, who is dean of the Graduate School.

In addition to fellowships for undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, C2B2 administrators plan to bring in 10 to 20 top undergraduates from around the nation as part of the Research Experience for Undergraduates Program to work with university and industry researchers, Weimer said. C2B2 administrators also are planning outreach activities to area K-12 schools, he said.

Industry sponsors can participate in discoveries and patents generated with the aim of commercializing new technologies quickly, said Gill. Sponsors also may enter into individual agreements to fund proprietary research through C2B2.


University of Colorado at Boulder: Colorado Center For Biorefining And Biofuels Announces $500,000 In Seed Grants For Research - October 29, 2007.

University of Colorado at Boulder: Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels Announces 10 Seed Grants for Renewable Energy Research [podcast].

Biopact: European Science Foundation launches microbial biofilms project - applications in bioenergy - October 28, 2007

Biopact: An in-depth look at biofuels from algae - January 19, 2007

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