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    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.

    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 11, 2008

FAO unveils important bioenergy assessment tool to ensure food security, shows global biofuels potential

An international team of scientists under the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has unveiled a much needed planning tool that allows countries to tap their bioenergy production potential while ensuring food security. The decision-support tool is based on mathematical models often referred to by Biopact. Peru, Thailand and Tanzania will try it out first, before it is released to the international community. The tool makes the discussion about the biofuels potential and the food versus fuel debate far more rigorous.

Scientists know that the technical potential for the sustainable production of bioenergy and biofuels is very large. Under the QUICKSCAN model, developed by the University of Utrecht's Copernicus Institute, used by the International Energy Agency and now also by the FAO, this potential is estimated to be maximum 1545 Exajoules per year by 2050, the bulk of it found in Africa and Latin America. 1545 EJ is more than 6 times the current amount of petroleum used by the entire world (total global energy demand today is 420EJ/yr, of which around 220EJ comes in the form of oil products).

The QUICKSCAN model, widely recognised as being the most robust and complete analytical framework, takes a bottom-up approach (schematic, click to enlarge) to estimate the sustainable bioenergy production potential. It first calculates and projects all food, fiber, fodder and forest product needs of growing populations, under different population growth scenarios. It then looks at the amount of land left for biofuels and bioenergy. This land base is explicitly taken to be non-forest land (no deforestation allowed) and sets aside land that is protected. It then allocates different crops to different types of land after which a scenario component is introduced reflecting potential yield and land availability increases resulting from agronomical changes.

The end result of the projections is an amount of bioenergy that a given region can produce sustainably over time, while meeting all needs of growing local populations and without damaging the environment. Maximum potential for sub-Saharan Africa is 347 EJ per year by 2050; for South America and the Caribbean 279 EJ, for the C.I.S. and Baltic States 269 EJ (map, click to enlarge). Biopact has consistently based its discussion of the regional and global biofuels opportunity on these assessments and the research papers developed from it (see references).

The tool now developed by a team of economists from FAO, Utrecht University’s Copernicus Institute and Darmstadt’s Oeko-Institut, is based on coupling QUICKSCAN to COSIMO, which models the agricultural sector in a large number of developing countries. The result is the new analytical framework, unveiled at a two-day experts’ meeting of FAO’s Bioenergy and Food Security (BEFS) project, which must make it possible for countries to develop strategies to tap the technical potential and turn it into real potential in a socially sustainable way.

The three-year project, funded by Germany, is aimed at making sure that bioenergy does not impair global food security. The analytical framework allows governments interested in entering the bioenergy sector to calculate the effect of their policy decisions on the food security of their populations.

Bioenergy can affect food prices and rural incomes and thus has important implications – both positive and negative — for food security. Potential negative effects are increased food prices for poor urban populations. Positive effects are the new market opportunities for vast poor rural populations and the increased income derived from these new markets; the capacity to strengthen rural development; and the opportunity to make developing countries less dependent on imported food and petroleum products, which both affect local food production:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Applying the analytical framework will enable national policy-makers to minimise negative consequences while maximising positive outcomes. A prerequisite for running the framework is the establishment of a bioenergy development scenario, a process in which FAO helps government clearly define their bioenergy policy options and the various possible strategies to achieve those options.

The analytical framework then makes it possible, through five steps, to assess: technical biomass potential; biomass production costs; the economic bioenergy potential; macro-economic consequences; national and household-level impact and consequences on food security:

Analysis of the results will make it possible to determine actual bioenergy potential and which households are most vulnerable and thus at risk of food insecurity.

The model draws on existing mathematical modelling tools such as QUICKSCAN, which calculates global bioenergy potential to 2050, and FAO’s COSIMO, which models the agricultural sector in a large number of developing countries.

The framework will be field-tested in three countries – Peru, Thailand and Tanzania – before the analytical framework methodology is made available to the international community at large.

Alexander Müller, FAO assistant director-general for natural resources and the environment, said FAO would make every effort to ensure that food security issues are on the table when a successor to the present Kyoto Protocol is negotiated.

Müller said climate change could reduce yields from the main crops in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa by up to 40 percent in the next 25 years, notably in Southern Africa. In other parts such as Eastern Africa and the Sahel yields could increase by up to 20 percent. But food security is not part of the negotiations road map adopted at last December’s UN Conference in Bali, and this hiatus must be taken into account.

The challenge will be huge for sub-Saharan Africa, Mr Muller said, adding that according to experts the development of the bioenergy sector in Africa could help mitigate the effects of climate change there.

FAO is organizing a High Level Conference on World Food Security and the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy in Rome from 3 to 5 June.

FAO: FAO unveils new bioenergy assessment tool - February 11, 2008.

FAO Natural Resources Management and Environment Department: FAO Climate Change and Bioenergy Unit.

IEA Bioenergy Executive Committee: Potential Contribution of Bioenergy to the World's Future Energy Demand - September 2007.

The Quickscan model has resulted in a large number of important research reports and papers about the global and regional bioenergy potential. The model is widely applied by researchers who work for the International Energy Agency Bioenergy Task 40, which analyses global biomass potential and trade.

Some of the most widely quoted (only from the Copernicus Institute's researchers) are:

Edward M.W. Smeets, André P.C. Faaij, Iris M. Lewandowski, Wim C. Turkenburg, A quickscan of global bio-energy potentials to 2050. Progress in Energy and Combustion Science, Volume 33, Issue 1, February 2007, Pages 56-106

Andre Faaij (2007), Global Outlook on Development of Sustainable Biomass Resource Potentials [*.pdf], First Conference of the European Biomass Co-Firing Network, Budapest, Hungary, July 2007.

M. Hoogwijk, A. Faaij, R. van den Broek, G. Berndes, D. Gielen, W. Turkenburg, Exploration of the ranges of the global potential of biomass for energy. Biomass and Bioenergy, Vol. 25 No.2, 2003, pp. 119-133.

Hoogwijk, M., Faaij, A., Eickhout, B., de Vries, B. and Turkenburg, W. 2005a. Potential of biomass energy out to 2100, for four IPCC SRES land-use scenarios, Biomass & Bioenergy, Vol. 29, Issue 4, October, Pp. 225-257.

C. Hamelinck, A. Faaij, H. den Uil, H. Boerrigter, Production of FT transportation fuels from biomass; technical options, process analysis and optimisation and development potential. Energy, the International Journal, Vol. 29, No. 11, September 2004, Pp. 1743-1771

Carlo N. Hamelinck, Geertje van Hooijdonk, André P.C. Faaij, Future prospects for the production of ethanol from ligno-cellulosic biomass. Biomass & Bioenergy, Vol. 28, Issue 4, April 2005, Pages 384-410

Carlo N. Hamelinck, Roald A.A. Suurs, André P.C. Faaij, Techno-economic analysis of International Bio-energy Trade Chains. Biomass & Bioenergy, Vol. 29, Issue 2, August 2005, Pages 114-134

Monique Hoogwijk, André Faaij, Bas Eickhout, Bert de Vries, Wim Turkenburg, Potential of biomass energy out to 2100, for four IPCC SRES land-use scenarios, Biomass & Bioenergy, Vol. 29, Issue 4, October 2005, Pages 225-257.

André P.C. Faaij, Bio-energy in Europe: Changing technology choices. Energy Policy (Special Issue on Renewable Energy in Europe), Vol 34/3, February 2006, Pp. 322-342

I. Lewandowski, A. Faaij, Steps towards the development of a certification system for sustainable bio-energy trade, Biomass & Bio-energy, Volume 30, Issue 2, February 2006, Pages 83-104

Bothwell Batidzirai, André Faaij, Edward Smeets, Biomass and bioenergy supply from Mozambique, Energy for Sustainable Development, Vol X. No.1, March 2006. Pp. 54-81

Andre P.C. Faaij, Julije Domac, Emerging international bio-energy markets and opportunities for socio-economic development, Energy for Sustainable Development, Vol X. No.1, March 2006. Pp. 7-19

K. Damen, A. Faaij, A Greenhouse gas balance of two existing international biomass import chains; the case of residue co-firing in a pulverised coal-fired power plant in the Netherlands Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change (Special Issue), Volume 11, Number 5-6, September 2006, Pp. 1023-1050.

Junginger, M., Faaij, A., Rosillo-Calle, F., Wood, J., The growing role of biofuels - Opportunities, challenges and pitfalls, International Sugar Journal, Volume 108, Issue 1295, November 2006, Pages 618-629

C. Hamelinck, A.Faaij, Outlook for advanced biofuels. Energy Policy, Vol. 34, Issue 17, November 2006, Pages 3268-3283

M. Junginger, E. de Visser, K. Hjort-Gregersen, J. Koornneef, R. Raven, A. Faaij, W.C. Turkenburg Technological learning in bio-energy systems. Energy Policy, Volume 34, Issue 18, December 2006, Pages 4024-4041

V. Dornburg, J. van Dam, A. Faaij, Estimating GHG emission mitigation supply curves of large scale biomass use on a country level (In Press: Biomass & Bioenergy, 2006)

E. Smeets, A. Faaij, Bioenergy potentials from forestry to 2050 (In press: Climatic Change, 2006).

J. van Dam, A. Faaij, I. Lewandowski, G. Fischer, Biomass production potentials in Central and Eastern Europe under different scenario’s. (In Press: Biomass & Bioenergy)

Martijn Verdonk, Carel Dieperink, André Faaij, Governance of the emerging bio-energy markets (In Press: Energy Policy)


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