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    The 4th Annual Brussels Climate Change Conference is announced for 26 - 27 February 2008. This joint CEPS/Epsilon conference will explore the key issues for a post-Kyoto agreement on climate change. The conference focuses on EU and global issues relating to global warming, and in particular looks at the following issues: - Post-2012 after Bali and before the Hokkaido G8 summit; Progress of EU integrated energy and climate package, burden-sharing renewables and technology; EU Emissions Trading Review with a focus on investment; Transport Climatepolicy.eu - January 28, 2007.

    Japan's Marubeni Corp. plans to begin importing a bioethanol compound from Brazil for use in biogasoline sold by petroleum wholesalers in Japan. The trading firm will import ETBE, which is synthesized from petroleum products and ethanol derived from sugar cane. The compound will be purchased from Brazilian petrochemical company Companhia Petroquimica do Sul and in February, Marubeni will supply 6,500 kilolitres of the ETBE, worth around US$7 million, to a biogasoline group made up of petroleum wholesalers. Wholesalers have been introducing biofuels since last April by mixing 7 per cent ETBE into gasoline. Plans call for 840 million liters of ETBE to be procured annually from domestic and foreign suppliers by 2010. Trading Markets - January 24, 2007.

    Toyota Tsusho Corp., Ohta Oil Mill Co. and Toyota Chemical Engineering Co., say it and two other firms have jointly developed a technology to produce biodiesel fuel at lower cost. Biodiesel is made by blending methanol into plant-derived oil. The new technology requires smaller amounts of methanol and alkali catalysts than conventional technologies. In addition, the new technology makes water removal facilities unnecessary. JCN Network - January 22, 2007.

    Finland's Metso Paper and SWISS COMBI - W. Kunz dryTec A.G. have entered a licence agreement for the SWISS COMBI belt dryer KUVO, which allows biomass to be dried in a low temperature environment and at high capacity, both for pulp & paper and bioenergy applications. Kauppalehti - January 22, 2007.

    Record warm summers cause extreme ice melt in Greenland: an international team of scientists, led by Dr Edward Hanna at the University of Sheffield, has found that recent warm summers have caused the most extreme Greenland ice melting in 50 years. The new research provides further evidence of a key impact of global warming and helps scientists place recent satellite observations of Greenland´s shrinking ice mass in a longer-term climatic context. Findings are published in the 15 January 2008 issue of Journal of Climate. University of Sheffield - January 15, 2007.

    Japan's Tsukishima Kikai Co. and Marubeni Corp. have together clinched an order from Oenon Holdings Inc. for a plant that will make bioethanol from rice. The Oenon group will invest around 4.4 billion yen (US$40.17 million) in the project, half of which will be covered by a subsidy from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The plant will initially produce bioethanol from imported rice, with plans to use Hokkaido-grown rice in the future. It will produce 5 million liters per year starting in 2009, increasing output to 15m liters in 2011. The facility will be able to produce as much as 50,000 liters of bioethanol from 125 tons of rice each day. Trading Markets - January 11, 2007.

    PetroSun, Inc. announced today that its subsidiary, PetroSun BioFuels Refining, has entered into a JV to construct and operate a biodiesel refinery near Coolidge, Arizona. The feedstock for the refinery will be algal oil produced by PetroSun BioFuels at algae farms to be located in Arizona. The refinery will have a capacity of thirty million gallons and will produce 100% renewable biodiesel. PetroSun BioFuels will process the residual algae biomass into ethanol. MarketWire - January 10, 2007.

    BlueFire Ethanol Fuels Inc, which develops and operates carbohydrate-based transportation fuel production facilities, has secured capital liquidity for corporate overhead and continued project development in the value of US$15 million with Quercus, an environmentally focused trust. BlueFire Ethanol Fuels - January 09, 2007.

    Some $170 billion in new technology development projects, infrastructure equipment and construction, and biofuel refineries will result from the ethanol production standards contained the new U.S. Energy Bill, says BIO, the global Biotechnology Industry Organization. According to Brent Erickson, BIO's executive vice president "Such a new energy infrastructure has not occurred in more than 100 years. We are at the point where we were in the 1850s when kerosene was first distilled and began to replace whale oil. This technology will be coming so fast that what we say today won't be true in two years." Chemical & Engineering News - January 07, 2007.

    Scottish and Southern Energy plc, the UK's second largest power company, has completed the acquisition of Slough Heat and Power Ltd from SEGRO plc for a total cash consideration of £49.25m. The 101MW CHP plant is the UK’s largest dedicated biomass energy facility fueled by wood chips, biomass and waste paper. Part of the plant is contracted under the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation and part of it produces over 200GWH of output qualifying for Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs), which is equivalent to around 90MW of wind generation. Scottish & Southern Energy - January 2, 2007.

    PetroChina Co Ltd, the country's largest oil and gas producer, plans to invest 800 million yuan to build an ethanol plant in Nanchong, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, its parent China National Petroleum Corp said. The ethanol plant has a designed annual capacity of 100,000 tons. ABCMoneyNews - December 21, 2007.

    Mexico passed legislation to promote biofuels last week, offering unspecified support to farmers that grow crops for the production of any renewable fuel. Agriculture Minister Alberto Cardenas said Mexico could expand biodiesel faster than ethanol. More soon. Reuters - December 20, 2007.

    Oxford Catalysts has placed an order worth approximately €700,000 (US$1 million) with the German company Amtec for the purchase of two Spider16 high throughput screening reactors. The first will be used to speed up the development of catalysts for hydrodesulphurisation (HDS). The second will be used to further the development of catalysts for use in gas to liquid (GTL) and Fischer-Tropsch processes which can be applied to next generation biofuels. AlphaGalileo - December 18, 2007.

    According to the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE), Brazil's production of sugarcane will increase from 514,1 million tonnes this season, to a record 561,8 million tonnes in the 2008/09 cyclus - an increase of 9.3%. New numbers are also out for the 2007 harvest in Brazil's main sugarcane growing region, the Central-South: a record 425 million tonnes compared to 372,7 million tonnes in 2006, or a 14% increase. The estimate was provided by Unica – the União da Indústria de Cana-de-Açúcar. Jornal Cana - December 16, 2007.

    The University of East Anglia and the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre have today released preliminary global temperature figures for 2007, which show the top 11 warmest years all occurring in the last 13 years. The provisional global figure for 2007 using data from January to November, currently places the year as the seventh warmest on records dating back to 1850. The announcement comes as the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Michel Jarraud, speaks at the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Bali. Eurekalert - December 13, 2007.

    The Royal Society of Chemistry has announced it will launch a new journal in summer 2008, Energy & Environmental Science, which will distinctly address both energy and environmental issues. In recognition of the importance of research in this subject, and the need for knowledge transfer between scientists throughout the world, from launch the RSC will make issues of Energy & Environmental Science available free of charge to readers via its website, for the first 18 months of publication. This journal will highlight the important role that the chemical sciences have in solving the energy problems we are facing today. It will link all aspects of energy and the environment by publishing research relating to energy conversion and storage, alternative fuel technologies, and environmental science. AlphaGalileo - December 10, 2007.

    Dutch researcher Bas Bougie has developed a laser system to investigate soot development in diesel engines. Small soot particles are not retained by a soot filter but are, however, more harmful than larger soot particles. Therefore, soot development needs to be tackled at the source. Laser Induced Incandescence is a technique that reveals exactly where soot is generated and can be used by project partners to develop cleaner diesel engines. Terry Meyer, an Iowa State University assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is using similar laser technology to develop advanced sensors capable of screening the combustion behavior and soot characteristics specifically of biofuels. Eurekalert - December 7, 2007.

    Lithuania's first dedicated biofuel terminal has started operating in Klaipeda port. At the end of November 2007, the stevedoring company Vakaru krova (VK) started activities to manage transshipments. The infrastructure of the biodiesel complex allows for storage of up to 4000 cubic meters of products. During the first year, the terminal plans to transship about 70.000 tonnes of methyl ether, after that the capacities of the terminal would be increased. Investments to the project totaled €2.3 million. Agrimarket - December 5, 2007.

    New Holland supports the use of B100 biodiesel in all equipment with New Holland-manufactured diesel engines, including electronic injection engines with common rail technology. Overall, nearly 80 percent of the tractor and equipment manufacturer's New Holland-branded products with diesel engines are now available to operate on B100 biodiesel. Tractor and equipment maker John Deere meanwhile clarified its position for customers that want to use biodiesel blends up to B20. Grainnet - December 5, 2007.

    According to Wetlands International, an NGO, the Kyoto Protocol as it currently stands does not take into account possible emissions from palm oil grown on a particular type of land found in Indonesia and Malaysia, namely peatlands. Mongabay - December 5, 2007.

    Malaysia's oil & gas giant Petronas considers entering the biofuels sector. Zamri Jusoh, senior manager of Petronas' petroleum development management unit told reporters "of course our focus is on oil and gas, but I think as we move into the future we cannot ignore the importance of biofuels." AFP - December 5, 2007.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

NFC to invest up to $80 million in reforestation-for-energy project in Uganda

Commercial tree planting is not a conventional type of business in Uganda but the New Forest Company (NFC), a UK-based firm, is signalling the growing attractiveness of the sector by announcing an investment that could reach $80 million over the coming years. The reforestation projects will supply woody biomass for power generation as well as timber for the construction industry. The concept shows that, contrary to the opinion of some bioenergy adversaries, biomass production is most often not based on deforestation, but rather on the opposite: reforestation and afforestation.

Deforestation is a growing problem in Uganda, with poor households relying on highly inefficient energy technologies for heating and cooking - burning wood fuels on open fires, leading to a loss of 90% of the energy contained in the fuel. A transition to modern energy would greatly reduce deforestation rates. A Ugandan government forest policy says because of this reliance on woodfuel and inefficient technologies, the country needs to recover 20 per cent of its lost forest cover, which equates to about 250,000 hectares of new trees to be planted by 2015. This opportunity, combined with rising commercial energy costs, the efficiency of modern biomass power production, and the growing related market for timber, prompted NFC to launch a massive investment campaign since 2005, expecting to raise 4.3 million trees, mainly Pine and Eucalyptus species.

During a tour of a plantation in Mubende by officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Uganda Investment Authority, NFC's CEO Julian Ozanne said that in a first step, the company is to invest $30 million in plantations in Mubende, Bugiri and Kiboga. The target there is to plant 65,000 acres of land, mainly for the timber market. So far 7,250 acres have received trees. This year, an additional $11 million should bring the total to 15,000 acres in the three districts.

In the meantime, NFC is working with British energy company Aldwych International which has already received a licence from the energy ministry to put in place a 50MW biomass power plant. NFC's plantations would supply the green electricity plant, pushing up its total investment to between $70 - $80 million over the next 10 years. For this project to succeed, the company needs to obtain a power purchase agreement from the government, so that the plant will be connected to the national grid.

Ozanne urged the government to support the project in order to diversify energy sources and to stop relying on hydro power only, which has become an unreliable source of energy. According to NFC, renewable biomass power offers reliable baseload energy and creates considerably more jobs than hydropower.

According to Meredith Bates, the company's corporate responsibility manager, NFC has so far created 1,600 jobs and forecasts another 2,500 in the next five years, operates in three districts of Mubende, Bugiri and Kiboga. According to Bates, the workforce is highly motivated and productive, for many of the rural workers and contractors this is their first real job so there is considerable training required to help make the transition to full time employment.

Bates added that the NFC's reforestation projects are underwritten by carbon credits, which require sound environmental land use management in compliance with the Clean Development Mechanism:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::
Our business mixes commercial plantation forestry with protection and regeneration of indigenous tree species and the promotion of bio-diversity and environmentally sustainable land use management. - Meredith Bates, NFC corporate responsibility manager
Besides carbon credits, timber plantations offer attractive rates of return in the order of 15-18 percent (more with well grown Eucalypts), says Bates. Besides the bioenergy market, Uganda's rapidly growing construction industry is pushing up demand for timber and other timber products providing a huge market for tree dealers and timber vendors. The regional market in Southern Sudan and Rwanda will also come in hardy to provide wider and new markets.

Planting is the first step being undertaken to create volume. In the next phase, NFC will build a processing plant that will include a modern saw mill and a pole-treatment factory. The development of supply chains for biomass as a fuel will be developed later when the government approves the power project.

During the tour in Mubende, IMF's senior resident representative, Abebe Aemro Selassie, said the company had mobilised private equity for a sustainable forestry project. "This is a positive development that has created jobs", he said.

Picture: reforestation and afforestation through eucalyptus plantations; the trees grow fast and yield high amounts of biomass that could become crucial for developing countries making a transition to more efficient energy systems.


New Vision (Kampala - via AllAfrica): Forest Company to Invest $30m - January 28, 2008.

The Monitor (Kampala - via AllAfrica): Tree Planting Promises Hefty Fruits for UK Firm - January 28, 2008.


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