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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

EU HyWays report concludes biomass least costly and preferred renewable for hydrogen production; hydrogen can replace 40% oil by 2050

Ahead of a €940 million (US$1.4 billion) funding round for hydrogen development, the scientific project HyWays funded by the EU's 6th Framework Program has found that introducing hydrogen into the Union's energy system would reduce total oil consumption by the road transport sector by 40% between now and 2050. The study looked at 10 member states and found bio-hydrogen is preferred as the main renewable production pathway, having the largest potential even after taking into account alternative uses for biomass, such as biofuels and bioproducts; hydrogen based on biomass is also by far the most cost-effective of the non-fossil based production methods.

The new analysis presents a "European Hydrogen Energy Roadmap" [*.pdf] and Action Plan (summary table, click to enlarge), which shows that by taking a leading position in the worldwide market for hydrogen technologies, Europe can open new economic opportunities and strengthen its competitiveness. The report was published as European Ministers responsible for research agreed to invest €940 million into a public/private research partnership for the development of hydrogen and fuel cells: the Joint Technological Initiative for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen technology.

However, the report states that transition to hydrogen won't happen automatically. The introduction of hydrogen into the energy system faces two major barriers:
  • Cost reduction. The cost of hydrogen end-use applications, especially for road transport, need to be reduced considerably to become competitive. A substantial increase in R&D investments is needed together with well balanced distribution of deployment to ensure that the economic break-even point is reached as soon as possible at minimum cumulative costs.
  • Policy support. Hydrogen is generally not on the agenda of the ministries responsible for the reduction of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants, nor in ministries dealing with security of supply. As a result, the required deployment support schemes for hydrogen end-use technologies and infrastructure build-up are lacking.
Key conclusions from the HyWays project are:

Emission reductions. If hydrogen is introduced into the energy system, the cost to reduce one unit of CO2 decreases by 4% in 2030 and 15% in 2050, implying that hydrogen is a cost-effective option for the reduction of CO2. A cash flow analysis shows however that a substantial period of time is required to pay back the initial investments (start-up costs). Total well-to-wheel reduction of CO2 emissions will amount to 190 – 410 Mton per year in 2050 (2). About 85% of the reduction in emissions is related to road transport, reducing CO2 emission from road transport by about 50% in 2050. Furthermore, the introduction of hydrogen in road transport contributes to a noticeable improvement of air quality in the short to medium term. This holds specifically for the most polluted areas such a city centres where the sense of urgency is greatest.

Security of supply. Like electricity, hydrogen decouples energy demand from resources. The resulting diversification of the energy system leads to a substantial improvement in security of supply. The total oil consumption of road transport could be decreased by around 40% by the year 2050 as compared to today if 80% of the conventional vehicles were replaced by hydrogen vehicles. Based on the long-term visions as developed by the member states that participated in the HyWays project, about 100 Mtoe of oil is substituted due to the introduction of hydrogen in transport.

Production pathways and costs. For the direct production of hydrogen, excluding hydrogen produced by means of electrolysis, about 33 Mtoe of coal and natural gas and 13 Mtoe of biomass will be needed in 2050. Biomass is seen as the preferred renewable as biohydrogen can be produced efficiently from the gasification of lignocellulosic material. The assessment takes into account the fact that biomass can be used for other forms of energy. Hydrogen from electrolysis based on electricity from wind is seen as holding less potential, whereas electrolysis from solar power will play a marginal role. The main primary energy source for electrolysis will come from nuclear energy (graph, click to enlarge).

Equally important is the fact that several pathways exist that can produce hydrogen at comparable price levels and in sufficient amounts. Of the non-fossil fuel based pathways hydrogen from biomass is seen as the most-cost effective pathway by far. This cost-effective range of production options ensures a relatively stable hydrogen production price. Hydrogen from biomass and fossil fuels becomes cost competitive as a fuel at oil prices over $50 – $60 per barrel equivalent. Hydrogen from electrolysis based on nuclear energy is seen as a costly alternative, as is electrolysis based on solar and wind (graph, click to enlarge).
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Sustainable use of fossil fuels. Use of hydrogen for electricity production from fossil fuels in large centralized plants will contribute to achieving a significant reduction of CO2 emissions if combined with CO2 capture and storage processes.

Note, the report did not take into account the realistic option of coupling carbon capture and storage (CCS) to biomass; bio-hydrogen is a decarbonised energy carrier and when made from biomass the CO2 of which is sequestered, it would become a carbon-negative biofuel that takes CO2 out of the atmosphere (previous post).

Contribution to targets for renewable energy and energy savings. The introduction of hydrogen into the energy system offers the opportunity to increase the share of renewable energy. Hydrogen could also act as a temporary energy storage option and might thus facilitate the large-scale introduction of intermittent resources such as wind energy. Further research is needed to quantify the relevance of this function taking into account national and regional aspects. Hydrogen produced from biomass allows for substantial efficiency gains compared to biofuels (and conventional fuels) when used in fuel cell and hybrid vehicles, thus contributing to energy conservation goals. The efficiency gain over biofuels is specifically important since the potential for biomass is limited and strong competition for potentially more attractive uses exists (e.g. power sector, feedstocks/synthetic materials). However, even after taking these constraints into account, biohydrogen is still seen as providing the largest contribution of all renewables.

Impact on economic growth and employment. The transition to hydrogen offers an economic opportunity if Europe is able to strengthen its position as a car manufacturer and energy equipment manufacturer. Substantial shifts in employment are observed between sectors, highlighting the need for education and training programmes. The shift to the production of dedicated propulsion systems will contribute to maintaining high skilled labour in Europe rather than outsourcing these to countries where labour costs are low. Assuming that the import/export shares of vehicles in Europe remain the same, the overall impact on economic growth will be slightly positive (around +0.01% per year). This situation changes considerably if Europe is not able to maintain its position as major car manufacturer in which case there will be a substantial negative impact on welfare in Europe. The major benefit for economic growth is a strong decrease in vulnerability of the economy to shocks and structural high oil prices. Studies from the IEA and European Central Bank, for example, indicate that the (temporary) impact on GDP growth of prices shocks or structural high oil prices amounts to -0.2% to -0.4% of GDP growth.

End-use applications. In the time frame until 2050, the main markets for hydrogen end-use applications are passenger transport, light duty vehicles and city busses. About half of the transport sector is expected to make a fuel shift towards hydrogen. Heavy duty transport (trucks) and long distance coaches are expected to switch to alternative fuels (e.g. biofuels). The penetration of hydrogen in the residential and tertiary sector is expected to be limited to remote areas and specific niches where a hydrogen infrastructure is already present.

Cost of end-use applications and infrastructure build-up. The costs per kilometre driven for mass-produced cars are comparable to conventional vehicles, provided that the necessary cost reductions are obtained. A substantial period of time is needed before the initial investments are paid back. Total cumulative investments for infrastructure build-up amount to about € 60 billion for the period up to 2030. This is only about 1% of the societal costs for meeting the 450 ppm CO2 target in Europe.

The HyWays project brings together industry, research institutes and government agencies from ten European countries. Following a series of more than 50 workshops the project has produced a Roadmap to analyse the potential impacts on the EU economy, society and environment of the large-scale introduction of hydrogen in the short- and long- term, as well as an action plan detailing what needs to be done for this to take place. The HyWays project's roadmap is based on country-specific analysis of the situation in Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom, together with an action plan detailing the steps necessary to move towards greater use of hydrogen.

Hydrogen is one of the most realistic options for environmental and economic sustainability in the transport sector, in particular passenger transport, light duty vehicles and city buses. However, its introduction requires gradual changes throughout the entire energy system and thus careful planning at this early stage. The transitional period offers Europe the opportunity to take the lead in developing hydrogen and fuel cell technology and its applications in transport and energy supply. The challenges are high and the right steps have to be taken quickly if Europe is not to count the cost of late market entry.

Competitiveness ministers of the 27 Member States are expected to discuss and give the green light to a European Commission proposal for a public/private research partnership ("Joint Technology Initiative") to develop Fuel Cell and Hydrogen technology. This industry-led integrated programme of research, technology development and demonstration activities will receive € 470 million of funding from the EU's research programme over the next six years, an amount to be matched by the private sector. At the same meeting, ministers will discuss the Strategic Energy Technology Plan, which mentions this initiative as an example for future European actions to develop new energy technologies.

European Commission: HyWays: European Hydrogen Energy Roadmap [*.pdf]- February 2008.

The Action Plan, the Member States’ Vision Report, an executive summary, the Roadmap and various background reports are available for download at the HyWays dedicated website.

European Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Platform: Joint Technological Initiative for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen.

EU: European research shows that hydrogen energy could reduce oil consumption in road transport by 40% by 2050 - February 25, 2008.


Blogger al fin said...

Electricity from biomass is far more efficient than converting biomass to hydrogen. It will take 20 years of breakthroughs to make hydrogen a safe fuel for automobiles. In the meantime, why not generate electricity from biomass and run EVs with that power?

All of this energy wasted on Hydrogen, when other approaches are far more feasible and efficient. Almost makes one lose faith in government mega-bureaucracies, what?

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Jonas said...

We strictly agree with you. We have written an earlier piece in which we say biomass electricity coupled to carbon capture and storage, can end our climate worries.

The more you drive an EV on this carbon-negative bio-electricity, the more you save the planet.

Check it out here:

The strange world of carbon-negative bioenergy: the more you drive your car, the more you tackle climate change - October 29, 2007.


10:45 PM  

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