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    The World GTL Summit will take place between 12 – 14th May 2008 in London. Key Topics to be discussed include: the true value of a 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.

    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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Monday, February 04, 2008

CEZ boosts electricity production from biomass, up 52 percent in 2007

CEZ, Central and Eastern Europe's largest power producer, boosted its production of electricity from burning biomass to 249 gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2007, up from 163 GWh a year ago (an increase of 52 per cent). Biomass has become the Czech group's second most important renewable source after hydro-powered plants, and the fastest growing segment. Wind (0.1GWh in 2006) and solar (0.07GWh in 2006) have stagnated over the past years and make up a minimal fraction of CEZ's portfolio, which also includes nuclear power. In the Czech Republic biomass is seen as the renewable with the largest potential to meet the EU's renewables target.

In the first three quarters of 2007, CEZ produced 65.1 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity of which 1.2 TWh came from renewable sources, the bulk from hydropower and bioenergy.

The Czech company is investing heavily in biomass because it is the most competitive renewable with which the EU's renewables targets can be met. The energy group however warned that the EU's recent draft on renewable energy and greenhouse gas reductions could increase power generation costs by an estimated 50 percent by 2013.

It is uncertain how much of that cost CEZ will be able to pass on to consumers, but analysts predict the higher outgoings could stunt investments in new capacity, putting further upward pressure on electricity prices.

The European Commission last month announced a climate action and renewable energy package aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. It also set an EU-wide target for renewables to rise to 20 percent of the energy mix by that time, with an individual figure of 13 percent for the Czech Republic.

The Czech government announced it hopes to meet the criteria by stimulating the development of additional hydroelectric and biomass power plants. When it comes to renewable energy production, the Czech Republic currently sits in the middle of the pack of EU member states, with 9.4% of final energy consumption coming from green sources.

The commission further unveiled its proposals for the 2013-2020 phase of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, under which the power sector will have to pay fully for carbon credits. Analysts said this will have the largest impact on CEZ going ahead. If CO2 credits go to full auctioning, then that CO2 cost will find its way into the power price immediately, said Bram Buring, analyst at Wood & Co.

CEZ, which has a market share of around 70 percent in the Czech Republic, has been allocated 34.3 million credits per year for the current trading period ending in 2012. Many analysts are still working out the likely financial impact of the EU proposals on the Czech power producer. But Josef Nemy, an analyst with Komercni Banka, forecasted generation costs could rise as much as 33.5 bln crowns, or around 500 crowns per megawatt hour of electricity produced, if CEZ has to pay for all its allowances. CEZ currently produces one MWh at a cost of around 1,000 crowns on average.

The increase in electricity prices is expected to be smaller than the increase in costs per MWh because the additional cost will be spread between consumers and producers. The overall impact on utilities, including CEZ, would thus be negative. Generation costs for CEZ could come under further strain as the group builds up capacity for renewable sources. The company, which has set aside 30 bln crowns for investment into renewables, admitted the EU proposals will mean "a significant and very costly increase in production of electricity from renewable sources."

Petr Novak, an analyst in Atlantik FT, said CEZ will likely need to invest more in biomass to meet the targets. But biomass is currently limited by a weak supply chain The total market for biomass producers is not working because it's difficult to process the whole supply chain, but biomass has the most potential among renewables in the Czech Republic, says Novak.

The European Commission estimates the Czech Republic's mid term (2010-2020) bioenergy potential to be around 6.5TWh for electricity from solid biomass, and slightly more than 2 TWh for electricity from biogas. Onshore wind power has a large potential as well (graph, click to enlarge):
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Investment into new costly technology for carbon capture and storage (CCS) is also seen adding to CEZ's cost base. Eva Novakova, CEZ's spokeswoman, says the company has previously estimated that the cost of producing electricity from plants equipped with this technology could rise between 35-81 percent. CEZ does not currently operate any units with carbon capture, but it is working on development projects for the technology and has said it is considering future construction of CO2 separation units.

The combination of more expensive carbon credits, higher renewables output and costlier anti-emissions technology could slow new investments into more capacity in the Czech Republic and the CEE region as a whole, analysts added.

A lack of new capacity and strong demand have been two of the main reasons behind the brisk growth in Czech power prices in recent years.

Graph: Mid term potential for renewables in the Czech Republic. Credit: European Commission, SEC(2004) 547, The share of renewable energy in the EU - Country Profiles
Overview of Renewable Energy Sources in the Enlarged European Union {COM(2004)366 final}.


Forbes: CEZ raises annual production from biomass in 2007 by 52 pct - February 4, 2008.

AFX: CEZ generation costs seen soaring under post-2013 EU emissions reforms - January 30, 2008.

CEZ: Utilization of renewable sources by CEZ Group is constantly growing [*.pdf] - November 2006.

European Commission: Czech Republic Renewables Country Page, at Energy.eu.

European Commission: The share of renewable energy in the EU - Country Profiles: Overview of Renewable Energy Sources in the Enlarged European Union [*.pdf] - SEC(2004) 547 Commission Staff Working Document {COM(2004)366 final}, Brussels, May 26, 2004


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