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    Tasmania's first specialty biodiesel plant has been approved, to start operating as early as July. The Macquarie Oil Company will spend half a million dollars on a specially designed facility in Cressy, in Tasmania's Northern Midlands. The plant will produce more than five million litres of fuel each year for the transport and marine industries. A unique blend of feed stock, including poppy seed, is expected to make it more viable than most operations. ABC Rural - February 25, 2007.

    The 16th European Biomass Conference & Exhibition - From Research to Industry and Markets - will be held from 2nd to 6th June 2008, at the Convention and Exhibition Centre of FeriaValencia, Spain. Early bird fee registration ends 18th April 2008. European Biomass Conference & Exhibition - February 22, 2007.

    'Obesity Facts' – a new multidisciplinary journal for research and therapy published by Karger – was launched today as the official journal of the European Association for the Study of Obesity. The journal publishes articles covering all aspects of obesity, in particular epidemiology, etiology and pathogenesis, treatment, and the prevention of adiposity. As obesity is related to many disease processes, the journal is also dedicated to all topics pertaining to comorbidity and covers psychological and sociocultural aspects as well as influences of nutrition and exercise on body weight. Obesity is one of the world's most pressing health issues, expected to affect 700 million people by 2015. AlphaGalileo - February 21, 2007.

    A bioethanol plant with a capacity of 150 thousand tons per annum is to be constructed in Kuybishev, in the Novosibirsk region. Construction is to begin in 2009 with investments into the project estimated at €200 million. A 'wet' method of production will be used to make, in addition to bioethanol, gluten, fodder yeast and carbon dioxide for industrial use. The complex was developed by the Solev consulting company. FIS: Siberia - February 19, 2007.

    Sarnia-Lambton lands a $15million federal grant for biofuel innovation at the Western Ontario Research and Development Park. The funds come on top of a $10 million provincial grant. The "Bioindustrial Innovation Centre" project competed successfully against 110 other proposals for new research money. London Free Press - February 18, 2007.

    An organisation that has established a large Pongamia pinnata plantation on barren land owned by small & marginal farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India is looking for a biogas and CHP consultant to help research the use of de-oiled cake for the production of biogas. The organisation plans to set up a biogas plant of 20,000 cubic meter capacity and wants to use it for power generation. Contact us - February 15, 2007.

    The Andersons, Inc. and Marathon Oil Corporation today jointly announced ethanol production has begun at their 110-million gallon ethanol plant located in Greenville, Ohio. Along with the 110 million gallons of ethanol, the plant annually will produce 350,000 tons of distillers dried grains, an animal feed ingredient. Marathon Oil - February 14, 2007.

    Austrian bioenergy group Cycleenergy acquired controlling interest in Greenpower Projektentwicklungs GmbH, expanding its biomass operational portfolio by 16 MW to a total of 22 MW. In the transaction Cycleenergy took over 51% of the company and thereby formed a joint venture with Porr Infrastruktur GmbH, a subsidiary of Austrian construction company Porr AG. Greenpower operates two wood chip CHP facilities in Upper and Lower Austria, each with an electric capacity of 2 MW. The plants have been in operation since the middle of last year and consume more than 30,000 tonnes of wood chips and are expected to generate over €5 million in additional revenue. Cycleenergy - February 6, 2007.

    The 2008 edition of Bioenergy World Europe will take place in Verona, Italy, from 7 to 10 February. Gathering a broad range of international exhibitors covering gaseous, liquid and solid bioenergy, the event aims to offer participants the possibility of developing their business through meetings with professionals, thematic study tours and an international forum focusing on market and regulatory issues, as well as industry expertise. Bioenergy World Europe - February 5, 2007.

    The World GTL Summit will take place between 12 – 14th May 2008 in London. Key topics to be discussed include: the true value of Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) projects, well-to-wheels analyses of the GTL value chain; construction, logistics and procurement challenges; the future for small-scale Fischer-Tropsch (FT) projects; Technology, economics, politics and logistics of Coal-to-Liquids (CTL); latest Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL) commercialisation initiatives. CWC Exhibitions - February 4, 2007.

    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.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Biofuels part of Brazil's major new anti-poverty initiative

The Brazilian government has unveiled a multi-billion dollar anti-poverty program to provide jobs, electricity and infrastructures in the poorest, rural parts of the country. Bioenergy and biofuels are a key part of the plan, because the sector offers major opportunities for rural development and poverty alleviation. Biofuels create jobs for the country's vast rural populations, improve incomes and livelihoods, and help boost local access to energy. Modern energy is key to health and development, which is why rural electrification is seen as a priority.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the biggest cost to the country was not taxes but a century in which poor people had been forgotten. The program will see some R$ 11.3 billion (€4.5/US$6 billion) spent in 2008 alone. The initiative was launched just a week after Brazil announced that for the first time in its history the country's foreign reserves exceeded its foreign debt.

The extensive program, known as "Territórios da Cidadania" ("Territories of Citizenship"), is meant to help around 24 million people, mainly poor rural workers and indigenous communities in Brazil's vast country-side. Regional and socio-economic integration are the overarching aims of the program.

The money, which is part of the existing budget, will be used to supplement 135 policies, involving 15 government departments, that are focused on 958 towns in states across the country. The areas selected for funding are the 60 regions of Brazil with the lowest rankings on the UN Human Development Index (click to see interactive map).

Speaking in the capital Brasilia, President Lula called the proposals the "second step to ending poverty". Brazil already has a major anti-poverty programme, known as Bolsa Familia, that pays a monthly allowance to more than 11 million families, on the condition they send their children to school.

The new social inclusion and anti-poverty measures include actions such as strengthening family run agriculture, food security programs, the documentation of rural workers, land reform, integral social assistance to poor families, improving access to water and improved sanitation, the creation of energy and agricultural infrastructures, judicial assistance, improved access to labor markets, and various types socio-educational outreach. Social housing, funds to help poor families build homes, and urbanisation programs to improve housing conditions in the favelas are also part of the program.

Rural development and poverty alleviation
Rural development transects all the measures as it is Brazil's small farmers who make up the majority of people in poverty. Amongst the initiatives aimed at strengthening their livelihoods are improved rural credit facilities, strategies to strengthen market access, land reform, the training of land management cadres, more technical and agronomic assistance and extension services, agricultural education for women, the creation of infrastructures - roads, irrigation and energy -, environmental education, assistance with the creation of cooperatives, and the production of biofuels and electricity from biomass:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Under the set of measures aimed at making production of goods and agriculture socially sustainable (see "Organisação Sustentável da Produção"), the promotion of the production of biodiesel by small farmers is given a budget of R$ 10 million. The program is expected to reach tens of thousands of poor rural families. Biodiesel in Brazil is made from crops such as castor and jatropha - which both grow in the semi-arid regions of the country -, and palm oil and coconut oil. Next-generation biodiesel will be obtained from biomass crops such as grass and wood.

The measure is part of Brazil's larger Pro-Biodiesel program, which works with a "Social Fuel Stamp" - a certificate that can be obtained when producers source their feedstock from registered small farmers. Producers receive incentives to do so, whereas the rural households who grow the feedstock are guaranteed a minimum price. The program is benefiting around 65,000 of Brazil's poorest farmers in the country's semi-arid Nordeste region.

Another program boosts subsidies to improve access to (bio)diesel amongst fishing communities. Fishing is a key livelihood for a large number of indigenous communities as well as settlers in the Amazon. Fuel costs are they key cost for this economic activity. And with rising oil prices, these communities see their incomes decline drastically. Local biofuel production could alter this situation, and fuel subsidies are seen as an efficient step to turn the tide.

'Light for everyone'
The very ambitious project to provide electricity to those without modern energy services is given a boost under the Territories of Citizenship program. The R$862 million (€343/US$510 million) "Luz para Todos" project aims to bring modern energy services to 10 million people or 2.5 million rural households in a first phase. Given that 80% of all rural citizens in Brazil have no access to electricity, the goal is to reach them all by 2015.

Rural electrification is a key step towards development and poverty alleviation. The program is technology neutral but will rely on local renewables where possible. Small hydropower and especially bio-electricity are seen as the key renewables because rural communities and biomass plants can rely on locally available resources.

A recent initiative aimed at backing up the country's energy supplies with decentralised power from biomass is part of the 'Light for All' strategy. Almost 8GW of this new 'green reserve' - a capacity larger than Brazil's two largest new hydropower plants combined - will help improve rural electrification.

Luz Para Todos is coordinated by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, with the operational participation of the Centrais Elétricas Brasileiras S.A. (Eletrobrás). The program works with executive concessionaries who distribute the electricity via rural electrification cooperatives, authorized, assisted and controlled by the Agência Nacional de Energia Elétrica (Aneel).

The program is expected to bring 300,000 direct and indirect jobs to (rural) workers.

Picture: a family of mamona (castor) growers, part of the anti-poverty biodiesel program. Credit: ANBA.


Territórios da Cidadania - dedicated website outlining all the initiatives, funds and benefiting regions.

President of the Republic: Presidente Lula lança programa para reduzir as desigualdades no meio rural - Desenvolvimento Agrário - February 26, 2008.

Ministry for Rural Development: Presidente Lula lança programa para reduzir as desigualdades no meio rural - February 25, 2008.

Jornal do Brasil: Luz será produzida a partir de biomassa - February 25, 2008.

Biopact: Brazil's biomass electricity auction attracts 118 factories with 7.8GW capacity - February 22, 2008

Biopact: An in-depth look at Brazil's "Social Fuel Seal" - March 23, 2007


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