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    South Korea plans to invest 20 billion won (€14.8/$21.8 million) by 2010 on securing technologies to develop synthetic fuels from biomass, coal and natural gas, as well as biobutanol. 29 private companies, research institutes and universities will join this first stage of the "next-generation clean energy development project" led by South Korea's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. Korea Times - November 19, 2007.

    OPEC leaders began a summit today with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez issuing a chilling warning that crude prices could double to US$200 from their already-record level if the United States attacked Iran or Venezuela. He urged assembled leaders from the OPEC, meeting for only the third time in the cartel's 47-year history, to club together for geopolitical reasons. But the cartel is split between an 'anti-US' block including Venezuela, Iran, and soon to return ex-member Ecuador, and a 'neutral' group comprising most Gulf States. France24 - November 17, 2007.

    The article "Biofuels: What a Biopact between North and South could achieve" published in the scientific journal Energy Policy (Volume 35, Issue 7, 1 July 2007, Pages 3550-3570) ranks number 1 in the 'Top 25 hottest articles'. The article was written by professor John A. Mathews, Macquarie University (Sydney, Autralia), and presents a case for a win-win bioenergy relationship between the industrialised and the developing world. Mathews holds the Chair of Strategic Management at the university, and is a leading expert in the analysis of the evolution and emergence of disruptive technologies and their global strategic management. ScienceDirect - November 16, 2007.

    Timber products company China Grand Forestry Resources Group announced that it would acquire Yunnan Shenyu New Energy, a biofuels research group, for €560/$822 million. Yunnan Shenyu New Energy has developed an entire industrial biofuel production chain, from a fully active energy crop seedling nursery to a biorefinery. Cleantech - November 16, 2007.

    Northern European countries launch the Nordic Bioenergy Project - "Opportunities and consequences of an expanding bio energy market in the Nordic countries" - with the aim to help coordinate bioenergy activities in the Nordic countries and improve the visibility of existing and future Nordic solutions in the complex field of bioenergy, energy security, competing uses of resources and land, regional development and environmental impacts. A wealth of data, analyses and cases will be presented on a new website - Nordic Energy - along with announcements of workshops during the duration of project. Nordic Energy - November 14, 2007.

    Global Partners has announced that it is planning to increase its refined products and biofuels storage capacity in Providence, Rhode Island by 474,000 barrels. The partnership has entered into agreements with New England Petroleum Terminal, at a deepwater marine terminal located at the Port of Providence. PRInside - November 14, 2007.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) kicks off the meeting in Valencia, Spain, which will result in the production of the Synthesis Report on climate change. The report will summarize the core findings of the three volumes published earlier by the separate working groups. IPCC - November 12, 2007.

    Biopact's Laurens Rademakers is interviewed by Mongabay on the risks of large-scale bioenergy with carbon storage (BECS) proposals. Even though Biopact remains positive about BECS, because it offers one of the few safe systems to mitigate climate change in a drastic way, care must be take to avoid negative impacts on tropical forests. Mongabay - November 10, 2007.

    According to the latest annual ranking produced by The Scientist, Belgium is the world's best country for academic research, followed by the U.S. and Canada. Belgium's top position is especially relevant for plant, biology, biotechnology and bioenergy research, as these are amongst the science fields on which it scores best. The Scientist - November 8, 2007.

    Mascoma Corporation, a cellulosic ethanol company, today announced the acquisition of Celsys BioFuels, Inc. Celsys BioFuels was formed in 2006 to commercialize cellulosic ethanol production technology developed in the Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering at Purdue University. The Celsys technology is based on proprietary pretreatment processes for multiple biomass feedstocks, including corn fiber and distiller grains. The technology was developed by Dr. Michael Ladisch, an internationally known leader in the field of renewable fuels and cellulosic biofuels. He will be taking a two-year leave of absence from Purdue University to join Mascoma as the company’s Chief Technology Officer. Business Wire - November 7, 2007.

    Bemis Company, Inc. announced today that it will partner with Plantic Technologies Limited, an Australian company specializing in starch-based biopolymers, to develop and sell renewably resourced flexible films using patented Plantic technology. Bemis - November 7, 2007.

    Hungary's Kalocsa Hõerõmû Kft is to build a HUF 40 billion (€158.2 million) straw-fired biomass power plant with a maximum capacity of 49.9 megawatts near Kalocsa in southern Hungary. Portfolio Hungary - November 7, 2007.

    Canada's Gemini Corporation has received approval to proceed into the detailed engineering, fabrication and construction phases of a biogas cogeneration facility located in the Lethbridge, Alberta area, the first of its kind whereby biogas production is enhanced through the use of Thermal Hydrolysis technology, a high temperature, high pressure process for the safe destruction of SRM material from the beef industry. The technology enables a facility to redirect waste material, previously shipped to landfills, into a valuable feedstock for the generation of electricity and thermal energy. This eliminates the release of methane into the environment and the resultant solids are approved for use as a land amendment rather than re-entering the waste stream. In addition, it enhances the biogas production process by more than 25%. Market Wire - November 7, 2007.

    A new Agency to manage Britain's commitment to biofuels was established today by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly. The Renewable Fuels Agency will be responsible for the day to day running of the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation, coming into force in April next year. By 2010, the Obligation will mean that 5% of all the fuels sold in the UK should come from biofuels, which could save 2.6m to 3m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. eGov Monitor - November 5, 2007.

    Prices for prompt loading South African coal cargoes reached a new record last week with a trade at $85.00 a tonne free-on-board (FOB) for a February cargo. Strong Indian demand and tight supply has pushed South African prices up to record levels from around $47.00 at the beginning of the year. European DES/CIF ARA coal prices have remained fairly stable over the past few days, having traded up to a record $130.00 a tonne DES ARA late last week. Fair value is probably just below $130.00 a tonne, traders said. At this price, some forms of biomass become directly competitive with coal. Reuters Africa - November 4, 2007.

    The government of India's Harayana state has decided to promote biomass power projects based on gasification in a move to help rural communities replace costly diesel and furnace oil. The news was announced during a meeting of the Haryana Renewable Energy Development Agency (HAREDA). Six pilot plants have demonstrated the efficiency and practicability of small-scale biomass gasification. Capital subsidies will now be made available to similar projects at the rate of Rs 2.5 lakh (€4400) per 100 KW for electrical applications and Rs 2 lakh (€3500) per 300 KW for thermal applications. New Kerala - November 1, 2007.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

IPCC to warn of 'abrupt' climate change: emergency case for carbon-negative biofuels kicks in

In a very important development, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is finalising its landmark synthesis report on global warming, is set to warn of the threat of 'abrupt' climate change. The wording by the UN's climate advisory panel is highly significant because it implies that radical strategies to mitigate the worst effects of these 'abrupt' shifts must now kick in.

These emergency strategies, developed specifically for the grim scenario of 'Abrupt Climate Change' (ACC) consist of systems based on carbon-negative bioenergy. The Abrupt Climate Change Strategy Group (ACCS), whose mandate is to study ACC and its mitigation, writes that this concept, also known as 'bioenery with carbon storage' (BECS), is one of the few cost-effective and safe geo-engineering options that can be implemented at once and globally. If applied widely, BECS systems can radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bring back atmospheric CO2 levels by mid-century.

The ACCS was launched in the wake of the G8's Gleneagles Summit in 2005, to study strategies to cope with "abrupt" forms of global warming. The IPCC's new wording gives credence to the ACCS concepts. This is what ACCS scientists said in one of their papers:
Abrupt Climate Change (ACC - NAS, 2001) is an issue that ‘haunts the climate change problem’ (IPCC, 2001) but has been neglected by policy makers up to now, maybe for want of practicable measures for effective response, save for risky geo-engineering. A portfolio of Bio-Energy with Carbon Storage (BECS) technologies, yielding negative emissions energy, may be seen as benign, low risk, geo-engineering that is the key to being prepared for ACC.

Under strong assumptions appropriate to imminent ACC, pre-industrial CO2 levels can be restored by mid-century using BECS.
- Peter Read and Jonathan Lermit
So how do carbon negative bio-energy and biofuels work? They are easy to understand. Bioenergy and biofuels production is coupled to soil sequestration of biochar or to geosequestration of carbon dioxide. As biomass grows, it takes up CO2 from the atmosphere, as a carbon capturing machine. When this biomass is then used to replace fossil fuels, and burned in power plants or transformed into liquid fuels, and at the same time the carbon contained in it is captured and stored underground (either in geological formations or in agricultural soils), the net result is negative emissions.

Ordinary biofuels, nuclear power or renewables like solar or wind can never become carbon-negative and do not suffice to tackle 'abrupt climate change'. They are 'carbon-neutral' at best. Negative emissions are only achieveable with biomass coupled to carbon capture and storage (schematic, click to enlarge). By now, Biopact readers are familiar with the concept.

The fact that the IPCC has uttered the most dreadful words imaginable in the context of global warming, namely 'abrupt climate change', means carbon-negative bioenergy now has implicit backing from the leading authority on global warming. Biopact is developing a leaflet introducing BECS to wider audiences who are still not familiar with the concept. It will be available before the end of the month. The case for BECS has finally arrived.

Meanwhile, check out the following introductory scientific sources to learn more about the concept:
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And the introductions at the Abrupt Climate Change Strategy Group.

Further references:
Biopact: Carbon-negative bioenergy is here: GreatPoint Energy to build biomass gasification pilot plant with carbon capture and storage - October 25, 2007

Biopact: A quick look at 'fourth generation' biofuels - October 08, 2007

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Zimbabwe opens first biodiesel plant to ease catastrophic fuel shortages in farm sector

High oil prices are disastrous for poor, oil importing agrarian countries, because they limit the production and marketing of food and drive up prices of all other products and services. Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe therefor commissioned the first biodiesel production plant in the oil-starved country, vowing that because of biofuels, Zimbabwe would "never collapse." The biodiesel plant's output is primarily intended to ease dramatic fuel shortages in the farming sector. Agriculture is an energy intensive economic sector and thus the project makes sense. In a country like Zimbabwe, biofuel production boosts food production instead of limiting it.

The country's dependency on imported fuels is a major constraint to virtually all economic activities, particularly the agrarian reform programme as the Zimbabwean government drives a rural modernisation programme whose success hinges on fuel availability. The biodiesel project is a culmination of years of research. In 2004, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe commissioned a biodiesel project at the Harare Polytechnic under which it procured a test vehicle, bio-reactor chemicals and other logistical support facilities, culminating in the "convincing" certification that biodiesel was a feasible option for Zimbabwe (previous post). The project will not just benefit the fuel sector, but is expected to have a positive impact on the rest of the economy as well through the creation of synergies.

Besides reducing fuel costs for farmers, Zimbabwe's peasants are set to benefit in a second way as a new and ready market for oil seeds emerges. Industry in general and the motoring public are also expected to operate better after the launch. The plant is being commissioned just in time for the festive season and the beginning of the summer cropping season, periods during which demand for fuel is very high.
As a nation we have once again demonstrated that the ill-fated sanctions against the innocent people of Zimbabwe can never subdue our resilience and inner propulsion to succeed and remain on our feet as a nation. Soon, our economy will be paying us back the dividends of the seedlings of progression we are planting across different productive sectors. - Robert Mugabe
The Transload biodiesel plant, located 15 kilometres (10 miles) northwest of Harare, is a joint venture between a Zimbabwean and South Korean firm. The plant has a capacity of 100 million litres of biodiesel annually. The main feedstocks are cotton seed, soya beans, jatropha and sunflower seed.

Zimbabwe imports some 4.7 million barrels of oil per year. Of this, the biodiesel plant would replace more than 630,000 barrels, roughly 13 percent, and save the country 80 million US dollars per year directly. Indirect savings due to smoother food production and lowered inflation have not been disclosed.
As a people, we have demonstrated that the dark clouds of our hard times, particularly those sown by Western destructive forces, have their silver lining by way of not just strengthening our resilience, but also of deepening our scientific research and stimulating our innovativeness. - Robert Mugabe
Zimbabwe is in the throes of an unprecedented economic crisis characterised by high inflation perched at nearly 8,000 percent, mass unemployment and chronic shortages of fuel. Fuel stations often go for months without deliveries while long queues form at the few that do receive supplies.

Mugabe's fusion of a discourse on energy security and political independence is not that far fetched: high oil prices and fuel dependence can literally destroy the economies of energy intensive, poor, oil importing countries like Zimbabwe. These developments are "exogenous" factors to which only biofuels offer an "endogenous" antidote. This is why the green fuels are often put in the ideological and geopolitical framework of economic independence and energy security.

The effect of high oil prices
More fundamentally, in least developed countries, record oil prices affect all sectors of the economy, but in particular the argricultural sector. In Zimbabwe, more than 65 percent of all people are employed in this sector. For the wealthiest countries (non-oil producing OECD), oil imports make up less than 2% of GDP, whereas for African oil importing nations this was more than 10% of GDP in 2006 (more here *.doc). In poor oil importing countries, oil price rises of the current magnitude imply a significant reduction of economic growth rates, an erosion of trade balances, rising unemployment, the destruction of the effects of debt relief efforts, and a hike in inflation rates. Of the 47 poorest countries, 38 are net importers of oil, and 25 are fully dependent on imports (more here). Zimbabwe belongs to the latter group. But there is more:
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If coupled with low foreign reserves some of the effects of current high oil prices are: decreased import capacity, lower consumption and investment, lower production and employment. And as always, the poor are hit hardest as they face lower employment prospects, higher inflation (fuel, transportation, basic goods), and cuts in government spending on social services (in a recent report, when oil stood at around US$ 60 per barrel, the UN found that some of the poorest countries are already forced to spend six times as much on imported oil as on such fundamental social services as health care and education (earlier post). According to an African Development Bank document on the effects of high oil prices on African societies:
Lower employment prospects and the higher inflation rate will lower the purchasing power of the poor who have fewer (if any) instruments to hedge against the oil price increase. The biggest impact will be through higher price of kerosene which is used for cooking and lighting. The poor will also be affected by higher transportation costs. Clearly, higher petroleum costs will increase commuting costs and, especially in the case of agricultural economies, the cost of getting the crops to the markets.
Given the limited availability of foreign exchange, these poor oil-importing countries face a number of options. Consumers and firms could decide to reduce their oil consumption but since the demand for oil is highly inelastic in the short-term, they may be compelled to reduce their consumption of other imported goods. Doing so could undermine economic growth especially if capital goods imports are affected.

Alternatively, countries could try to access foreign currencies to fill the gap and finance the energy bill. However, obtaining funds from private markets, bilateral and multilateral sources must be consistent with medium-term sustainability and sound debt management. In highly indebted poor countries, the only solution to fill the financing gap, and not to weaken growth, is to obtain grants or highly concessional loans. More importantly, governments will have to consider sustainable financing plans as all evidence points to oil remaining at high prices.

High oil prices will also exert a heavy toll on the budget both on the revenue and expenditure sides. On the revenue side, the tax base will be eroded if the profitability of oil-consuming companies is adversely affected and if unemployment increases. Expenditure could increase wherever governments subsidize oil products, or programs, which make intensive use of petroleum products. In that regard, an important question is if there should be complete pass-through of the oil price increase.

Governments are under heavy pressure to intervene to cushion the effect of the oil price increase. If the price of oil is not mean-reverting, price controls will lead to ever increasing losses which will ultimately be borne by current or future tax payers.

Subsidies to public utilities can also worsen the consolidated government budget deficit. In many countries electricity is produced using oil and is sold by law below its cost of production. In this case, the government will have to bear the additional expenditure from a higher oil bill. If the government does not have the resources to do so (for instance, if foreign reserves are too low), it may have to resort to rolling blackouts which have very adverse effects. Moreover, governments will themselves face higher energy bills through their own activities and that of state-owned companies.

Central banks may be tempted to tighten their monetary policy in reaction to the increase in inflation. Previous oil price shocks have produced significant increases in real interest rates which undermined domestic investment, pushed countries deeper into recession and produced stagflation. Furthermore, a rising fiscal deficit, combined with increasing public expenditures due to petrol consumption by public entities, can prompt the authorities to use monetary creation to finance the additional expenditures. As the increase in the price of oil is akin to a supply shock, an accommodating monetary policy would contribute to inflation. Non-inflationary policies are needed to avoid hyperinflation and to maintain monetary credibility.

Zimbabwe hopes that by relying on locally produced biofuels, which are expected to be less costly than imported refined petroleum products, some of the potentially disastrous effects of these many problems can be averted.

Mugabe blames the economic collapse of his country on targeted sanctions imposed on him and members of his ruling elite by the European Union and the United States following presidential polls in 2002 which the main opposition and Western observers say were rigged.

: soldiers guard the Transload biodiesel plant on the outskirts of Harare. Credit: AFP.

Agence France Press: Mugabe commissions Zimbabwe's first biodiesel plant - November 15, 2007.

The Herald (via AllAfrica): Zimbabwe: Government to Launch Biodiesel Plant Today - November 15, 2007.

Biopact: High oil prices disastrous for developing countries - September 12, 2007

Ralf Krüger: Impact of high oil prices on oil-importing countries in Africa [*.pdf], UNECA Project LINK meeting, Fall 2006, Geneva.

African Development Bank Group: Can Struggling African Economies Survive Escalating Oil Prices?

African Development Bank Group: High Oil Prices and the African Economy [*.doc] - Concept paper prepared for the 2006 African Development Bank Annual Meetings Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Biopact: Zimbabwe's jatropha project receives US$11.6 million - May 18, 2007

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World's largest ethanol producer switches from natural gas to cleaner, cheaper biomass

Some biofuel skeptics have said that the production of the fuels requires large inputs of fossil fuels, and that rising energy prices will therefor severely impact profitability. Others have said biofuel production can just as well become entirely green, when fossil inputs are replaced by renewables, some of which have become competitive with fossil energy. In Brazil this is already being done routinely by utilizing waste biomass as the primary energy source for powering the ethanol factories.

Now the world's largest ethanol producer, South Dakota based POET, announced it is switching from natural gas to biomass to power the fuel production process at one of its plants. The switch will allow the facility to double its ethanol output without increasing fossil fuel usage. This intervention doubles the renewable energy balance of the biofuel and shrinks its overall carbon footprint since biomass is cleaner than natural gas.

What is more, with rising crude oil and natural gas prices, the switch represents a 'huge savings' POET officials said.

The POET Biorefining plant in Chancellor, South Dakota, is undergoing an expansion that will increase production capacity from 50 to 100 million gallons per year. The expansion includes construction of a solid waste fuel boiler that will use woody biomass as an alternative energy source that will generate enough steam to produce more than half of the expanded plant's power needs. The boiler system is expected to be operational by the third quarter of 2008. Mueller Pallets of Sioux Falls will supply the woodchip fuel for the boiler.

Poet's Chancellor plant plans to use 150 to 350 tons of waste wood per day, which it will store in one of two onsite storage bins. A reclaiming system will pull it out of the silos and into the solid waste fuel boiler, a box measuring about 70 feet tall, 20 feet wide and 15 feet deep. The heat will be used to boil water to make steam. The steam travels through a pipe into the plant, where it will replace up to 60 percent of the natural gas previously used to power the production process.
The solid waste fuel boiler will allow us to double our production capacity without increasing our natural gas usage. We will be reducing our operating costs by using a green fuel source to produce a domestic, green transportation fuel for America. - Rick Serie, General Manager of POET Biorefining - Chancellor
Waste wood from pallets, construction sites and area landfills will be the primary biomass fuel source for the solid waste fuel boiler. POET Biorefining - Chancellor has contracted with Mueller Pallets of Sioux Falls to provide the 150-350 tons of wood per day. The company, long a recycler of used transport pallets, has increased operations to accommodate POET's woodchip needs. Not only has Mueller begun acquiring and grinding waste wood from area landfills, but the company is also reaching out to tree services companies, contractors and other private sources to acquire and re-cycle waste wood at no charge to the providers.
It's a win-win situation. By recycling instead of disposing of waste wood, companies, cities and towns in the region will together save hundreds of thousands of dollars in landfill costs yearly. And while saving raw materials from disposal, the fuel product we process will help reduce the need for natural gas. - Margie Mueller, president of Mueller Pallets
POET Alternative Energy Engineer Jim Geraets said the solid waste fuel boiler will be outfitted with state-of-the-art pollution control equipment that exceeds state and federal standards and continuously monitored. Ethanol is one of the best tools we have to fight pollution from vehicles, Geraets says, and at POET we're always looking for ways that we can make the ethanol production process even more environmentally-friendly:
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Poet will evaluate the pilot project and says it would expand it to its other plants if it is proven to be successful.

POET Biorefining - Chancellor started operations in March, 2003. Last year, the facility produced 51 million gallons of ethanol and 160,000 tons of Dakota Gold Enhanced Distillers Nutrition products. The facility is in the midst of an expansion that will increase the production capacity to 100 mgpy. Construction on the expansion is expected to be completed in Q1 2008 and the solid waste fuel boiler is expected to be complete in Q3 2008. The construction will necessitate the hiring of approximately 20 additional employees for the facility, which is already the largest employer in the town.

POET, the largest ethanol producer in the world, is an established leader in the biorefining industry through project development, design and construction, research and development, plant management, and marketing. Formerly known as Broin, the 20-year old company currently operates 21 production facilities in the United States with six more in construction or under development. The company produces and markets more than 1.1 billion gallons of ethanol annually.

Picture: waste wood from the local industrial and forestry sector will be the biomass source used to power POET's Chancellor biorefinery. Credit: POET.

POET: POET to power ethanol plant expansion with alternative energy source - November 15, 2007.

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Eco2 Biomass to build 40MW biomass power plant in the UK

Renewable energy company Eco2 Biomass has submitted a planning application to the North Kesteven District Council in Linconlnshire to develop a new 40 MW straw fired renewable energy plant near the town of Sleaford. The £80 (€112/US$164) million station would generate enough climate friendly power for 90,000 homes each year and create 80 jobs in the Sleaford area. The project would save 250,000 tons of CO2 each year and create a market for straw worth £6million a year. The ash from the plant would be recycled for fertilizer.

Public consultation
Two public exhibitions held at the end of July, showed considerable support for the project. Surveys revealed that almost 90% of people were concerned about the effects of global warming and felt that action needed to be taken. In reference to the project itself, over half of those who attended the public exhibitions, were in support of the plant, while 22% were neither in favour nor against the project. Two thirds of all who attended believed that the project would have significant environmental benefits.

However, the BBC reports that a 'not in my backyard' sentiment, that plagues so many renewables projects, has now emerged. Some local citizens fear lorries bringing the straw to the plant would clog local roads. Moreover, the main building would be built close to the local football club's ground and would be the equivalent of a 12-storey block of flats. The station's architectural and landscape design has been conceived in such a way that it blends in with the environment, using 'sympathetic' materials, layout and colors - the developers say.

Wind turbines, biomass power plants and nuclear facilities - renewables and clean energy sources that can help tackle climate change - increasingly face tough questioning from locals whose immediate environment is often impacted by such facilities. However, a public consultation process often succeeds in convincing the citizens of the benefits of the project and of the larger context in which it must be placed. Still, public consultations and thorough social impact assessments remain a sine qua non for the long term success of any type of large industrial project.

Andrew Toft, commercial director for Eco2, said he welcomed tough questions being asked:
This is part of the democratic process that we have to go through. We submitted our proposals in July and an online poll showed 77% in favour. The difficulty is that as time goes on the people who think it's a good idea fall away and those who are against it come forward.
The public exhibitions gave members of the community the opportunity to ask Eco2 Biomass’s project team questions about the project and have a look at the proposed plans for the plant:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Many who attended felt that their questions had been answered and that they had a better understanding of the importance of the project, ECO2 says. From its perspective, it learned a lot about what concerns the community have about the project and the developers are confident that the planning application deals with those issues fully.

The plant will would be built on Boston Road, to the east of Sleaford in Lincolnshire, and will be designed to generate renewable electricity by burning straw in a highly efficient, clean combustion process. Operation will take place continuously throughout the year and is expected to export over 300,000 MWh of green energy into the local grid.

The fuel supply chain for the plant is expected to inject over £6m a year into the region, and the plant will create approximately 80 jobs - 30 of which will be created in the direct running of the plant and a further 50 in regards to fuel supply.

This biomass plant is the flagship development for Eco2 Biomass. Considerable effort has been put into the design of the plant, which features a high quality architectural treatment using sympathetic materials enhanced by landscaping and extensive planting of indigenous species.

The application for planning permission was accompanied by a full environmental statement covering all aspects of the plant including transportation, landscape and visual impact, ecology and nature conservation, noise, air quality, archaeology and heritage.

Eco2: Planning application submitted for new biomass renewable energy facility in Sleaford - September 11, 2007.

BBC: Straw power plant sparks dispute - November 16, 2007.

Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant, dedicated project website.

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U.S. and China working on biofuels pact

The United States and China are working on a pact to promote the use of biofuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen energy security. They could announce the agreement as early as next month, an American official said today in Beijing. It would be Washington's first such pact in Asia, following similar agreements with Brazil and Sweden.

The agreement would call for cooperation in research, producing crops for fuel and other areas, said Alexander Karsner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. He was in Beijing for talks with officials from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner, to discuss the promotion of renewable energy sources.
We have concluded an agreement for exchanging expertise, technical assistance and technology development on energy efficiency. That agreement is mature and we are now moving to implementation. [...] Through our agreement with China, we hope to transfer this knowledge and expertise. [...] We had a very productive, lengthy and engaging dialogue on a wide range of issues, things of mutual concern like energy markets, global climate change, price of oil and studies of science and technology between the two countries. - Alexander Karsner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
The United States and China are the world's biggest oil consumers and producers of carbon dioxide and other gases that scientists say trap the sun's heat and are raising global temperatures. In its latest World Energy Outlook, the IEA said the People's Republic will become a larger emitter than the U.S. this year. The agency also projects that in a business as usual scenario, global CO2 emissions will jump from 27 gigatonnes in 2005 to 42 Gt in 2030, with China alone accounting for 42% of the increase. In a high growth scenario, this share will increase to a whopping 49%, more than the rest of the world combined (except India) (graph, click to enlarge and previous post).

Karsner said he and Chinese officials talked about a meeting next month in Indonesia of environment officials from 80 countries to discuss a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol on emissions reductions. He said he did not bring up Washington's insistence that Beijing, a major emissions source, accept binding limits. China has rejected emissions caps, saying it prioritises economic development and poverty alleviation, but says it remains committed to trying to curb greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible (earlier post):
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A biofuels agreement could be announced at the Dec. 12 meeting of the Strategic Economic Dialogue, a high-level U.S.-Chinese forum on trade and other issues, Karsner said. He declined to give details, saying they still are being discussed.

"China is a natural, as would be India, to enhance cooperation on biofuels," he said.

China has promoted wind power, biomass, biogas, biofuels and solar energy in hopes of reducing environmental damage from heavy use of coal and oil to fuel its booming economy. The communist government also wants to curb reliance on imported energy, which it sees as a strategic weakness.

China already is the third-largest producer of biofuels after the United States and Brazil, which account for 80 percent of global production, according to Karsner.

Recently the country announced a new plan to boost international cooperation in the development of renewables (earlier post). The plan is part of its $256 billion development strategy for renewable energy launched earlier this year which aims at increasing the proportion of renewable energy to 10 percent of total consumption by 2010, and to 15 percent by 2020. Renewables currently account for just 1 percent of China's total primary energy production (previous post).

Xinhuanet: U.S. energy official: Sino-U.S. biofuel agreement in the works - November 16, 2007.

Associated Press: US, China Working on Biofuel Pact - November 16, 2007.

Biopact: IEA WEO: China and India transform global energy landscape - demand, emissions to grow 'inexorably' - November 08, 2007

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

Biopact: China: poverty reduction, energy security more important than capping emissions - November 12, 2007

Biopact: China launches project to enhance international cooperation on new and renewable energy - November 14, 2007

Biopact: Brazil and U.S. sign biofuels cooperation agreement - March 09, 2007

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