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    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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Friday, February 15, 2008

New study shows stabilizing climate requires near-zero carbon emissions now - boosts case for carbon-negative bioenergy

Now that scientists have reached a consensus that carbon dioxide emissions from human activities are the major cause of global warming, the next question is: How can we stop it? Can we just cut back on carbon, or do we need to go much further? According to a new study by scientists at the Carnegie Institution, halfway measures won't do the job. To stabilize our planet's climate, we need to find ways to reduce emissions to near-zero, immediately.

This means carbon-negative bioenergy becomes the key technology, as it is the only energy system that allows societies to function normally while actively removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Carbon-negative bioenergy with its negative emissions is obtained by coupling carbon capture and storage (CCS) to bioenergy production - by either storing biogenic CO2 in geological formations or as biochar in soils.

Ordinary renewables like wind, solar, or hydropower - which all add new CO2 to the atmosphere over their lifecycle - can play a role, but do not go far enough, especially given the enormity of the task of countering emissions from fossil fuels. Take photovoltaics: per kilowatthour of electricity produced, around 100 grams of CO2 equivalent is released over the entire lifecycle of the solar energy system. Wind power comes in at +30grams, as does biomass, while hydropower and nuclear add between 10 and 20 grams. Carbon-negative bioenergy on the contrary can yield up to -1000 grams (that is: minus a thousand grams per kWh). In short, the emissions generated by classic renewables and fossil fuels, must be counter-acted by carbon-negative bioenergy if we want to reach a level of near zero new emissions.
What if we were to discover tomorrow that a climate catastrophe was imminent if our planet warmed any further? To reduce emissions enough to avoid this catastrophe, we would have to cut them close to zero - and right away. - Ken Caldeira, Stanford University, Carnegie Institution, Department of Global Ecology
In the study, to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, climate scientists Ken Caldeira and Damon Matthews used an Earth system model at the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology to simulate the response of the Earth's climate to different levels of carbon dioxide emission over the next 500 years. The model, a sophisticated computer program developed at the University of Victoria, Canada, takes into account the flow of heat between the atmosphere and oceans, as well as other factors such as the uptake of carbon dioxide by land vegetation, in its calculations.

This is the first peer-reviewed study to investigate what level of carbon dioxide emission would be needed to prevent further warming of our planet.

Most scientific and policy discussions about avoiding climate change have centered on what emissions would be needed to stabilize greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But stabilizing greenhouse gases does not equate to a stable climate. The scientists studied what emissions would be needed to stabilize climate in the foreseeable future.

They investigated how much climate changes as a result of each individual emission of carbon dioxide, and found that each increment of emission leads to another increment of warming. So, if we want to avoid additional warming, we need to avoid additional emissions. With emissions set to zero in the simulations, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere slowly fell as carbon sinks such as the oceans and land vegetation absorbed the gas. Surprisingly, however, the model predicted that global temperatures would remain high for at least 500 years after carbon dioxide emissions ceased.

Just as an iron skillet will stay hot and keep cooking after the stove burner's turned off, heat held in the oceans will keep the climate warm even as the heating effect of greenhouse gases diminishes. Adding more greenhouse gases, even at a rate lower than today, would worsen the situation and the effects would persist for centuries.

Global carbon dioxide emissions and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are both growing at record rates. Even if we could freeze emissions at today's levels, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations would continue to increase. If we could stabilize atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, which would require deep cuts in emissions, the Earth would continue heating up. Matthews and Caldeira found that to prevent the Earth from heating further, carbon dioxide emissions would, effectively, need to be eliminated:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

While eliminating carbon dioxide emissions may seem like a radical idea, Caldeira sees it as a feasible goal. It is just not that hard to solve the technological challenges, he says.

Ken Caldeira is a climate scientist in the Carnegie Institution Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University. Damon Matthews is a climate scientist in the Concordia University Department of Geography, Planning, and Environment in Montreal, Canada.

Going negative
In 2005, a group of scientists obtained a mandate from the G8 to study ways to drastically reduce and even eliminate carbon emissions on a global scale. This group, called the Abrupt Climate Change Strategy group (ACCS), found that carbon-negative bioenergy can be implemented on a global scale and would allow societies to function as normal. If implemented widely - replacing all fossil fueled power stations with biomass+CCS - we can even bring back atmospheric CO2 levels to pre-industrial levels by mid-century (2060), they found.

Carbon-negative bioenergy production is the only feasible geo-engineering type of intervention. Not only is it a very low risk strategy to eliminate emissions, it is commercially and economically manageable.

Negative emissions from bioenergy can be obtained both in electricity production as in biofuel production: in both cases, the biomass is decarbonised and the CO2 sequestered safely. Leaks from CO2 storage sites would not be problematic since the CO2 is biogenic in nature.

In power production, the biofuel is turned into hydrogen (a decarbonised fuel) in integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power stations, after which the CO2 can be captured and stored. Other options exist, such as capturing emissions from existing power plants that have switched from coal to solid biomass or from natural gas to biogas. In biofuels for transport, the biomass is turned into hydrogen via gasification or biological fermentation, with the carbon dioxide again captured and sequestered.

Finally, negative emissions energy systems can be created by coupling bioenergy to biochar production. Part of the biomass is turned into an inert form of carbon (biochar or agrichar), which is then sequestered into soils (which boosts crop production). The rest of the energy is used for the production of power and heat. This way, energy can be generated while establishing a manageable carbon sink.

Only biomass-based systems can result in negative emissions energy that removes CO2 from the past and cleans up the atmosphere. In the event of "abrupt climate change" or when a radical transition to "zero emissions" is needed, which is the case according to Caldeira and Matthews, they are the key technology to achieve the goal.


Matthews, H. D., and K. Caldeira (2008), "Stabilizing climate requires near-zero emissions", Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2007GL032388, in press.

Eurekalerts: Stabilizing climate requires near-zero carbon emissions - February 14, 2008.

Scientific literature on negative emissions from biomass:
H. Audus and P. Freund, "Climate Change Mitigation by Biomass Gasificiation Combined with CO2 Capture and Storage", IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme.

James S. Rhodesa and David W. Keithb, "Engineering economic analysis of biomass IGCC with carbon capture and storage", Biomass and Bioenergy, Volume 29, Issue 6, December 2005, Pages 440-450.

Noim Uddin and Leonardo Barreto, "Biomass-fired cogeneration systems with CO2 capture and storage", Renewable Energy, Volume 32, Issue 6, May 2007, Pages 1006-1019, doi:10.1016/j.renene.2006.04.009

Christian Azar, Kristian Lindgren, Eric Larson and Kenneth Möllersten, "Carbon Capture and Storage From Fossil Fuels and Biomass – Costs and Potential Role in Stabilizing the Atmosphere", Climatic Change, Volume 74, Numbers 1-3 / January, 2006, DOI 10.1007/s10584-005-3484-7

Further reading on negative emissions bioenergy and biofuels, and carbon capture techniques:
Peter Read and Jonathan Lermit, "Bio-Energy with Carbon Storage (BECS): a Sequential Decision Approach to the threat of Abrupt Climate Change", Energy, Volume 30, Issue 14, November 2005, Pages 2654-2671.

Stefan Grönkvist, Kenneth Möllersten, Kim Pingoud, "Equal Opportunity for Biomass in Greenhouse Gas Accounting of CO2 Capture and Storage: A Step Towards More Cost-Effective Climate Change Mitigation Regimes", Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Volume 11, Numbers 5-6 / September, 2006, DOI 10.1007/s11027-006-9034-9

Biopact: Commission supports carbon capture & storage - negative emissions from bioenergy on the horizon - January 23, 2008

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

Biopact: "A closer look at the revolutionary coal+biomass-to-liquids with carbon storage project" - September 13, 2007

Biopact: New plastic-based, nano-engineered CO2 capturing membrane developed - September 19, 2007

Biopact: Plastic membrane to bring down cost of carbon capture - August 15, 2007

Biopact: Pre-combustion CO2 capture from biogas - the way forward? - March 31, 2007

Biopact: Towards carbon-negative biofuels: US DOE awards $66.7 million for large-scale CO2 capture and storage from ethanol plant - December 19, 2007

Biopact: Biochar and carbon-negative bioenergy: boosts crop yields, fights climate change and reduces deforestation - January 28, 2008


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