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    Mongabay, a leading resource for news and perspectives on environmental and conservation issues related to the tropics, has launched Tropical Conservation Science - a new, open access academic e-journal. It will cover a wide variety of scientific and social studies on tropical ecosystems, their biodiversity and the threats posed to them. Tropical Conservation Science - March 8, 2008.

    At the 148th Meeting of the OPEC Conference, the oil exporting cartel decided to leave its production level unchanged, sending crude prices spiralling to new records (above $104). OPEC "observed that the market is well-supplied, with current commercial oil stocks standing above their five-year average. The Conference further noted, with concern, that the current price environment does not reflect market fundamentals, as crude oil prices are being strongly influenced by the weakness in the US dollar, rising inflation and significant flow of funds into the commodities market." OPEC - March 5, 2008.

    Kyushu University (Japan) is establishing what it says will be the world’s first graduate program in hydrogen energy technologies. The new master’s program for hydrogen engineering is to be offered at the university’s new Ito campus in Fukuoka Prefecture. Lectures will cover such topics as hydrogen energy and developing the fuel cells needed to convert hydrogen into heat or electricity. Of all the renewable pathways to produce hydrogen, bio-hydrogen based on the gasification of biomass is by far both the most efficient, cost-effective and cleanest. Fuel Cell Works - March 3, 2008.

    An entrepreneur in Ivory Coast has developed a project to establish a network of Miscanthus giganteus farms aimed at producing biomass for use in power generation. In a first phase, the goal is to grow the crop on 200 hectares, after which expansion will start. The project is in an advanced stage, but the entrepreneur still seeks partners and investors. The plantation is to be located in an agro-ecological zone qualified as highly suitable for the grass species. Contact us - March 3, 2008.

    A 7.1MW biomass power plant to be built on the Haiwaiian island of Kaua‘i has received approval from the local Planning Commission. The plant, owned and operated by Green Energy Hawaii, will use albizia trees, a hardy species that grows in poor soil on rainfall alone. The renewable power plant will meet 10 percent of the island's energy needs. Kauai World - February 27, 2008.

    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, 2008.

    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, 2008.

    '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, 2008.

    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, 2008.

    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, 2008.

    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, 2008.

    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, 2008.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Brazil: sugarcane bioenergy bypasses hydroelectric power as primary energy source

According to preliminary data from Brazil’s annual National Energy Balance report produced by EPE (Empresa de Pesquisa Energética), sugarcane ethanol and bagasse used for bioenergy became Brazil’s second largest primary source of energy in 2007, bypassing the contribution of hydroelectric power.

Bioenergy has become Brazil's fastest growing renewable energy source and is already generating more power than all non-oil fossil fuel sources combined. As a whole, the country now generates 46.4% of its energy from renewables. This compares very favorably with the primary energy mix of OECD countries, where renewables account for a mere 5.2%.

Brazil is known for its large hydropower infrastructures, with more than 600 dams built on the country's many rivers. The largest dam, the Itaipu, has an installed capacity of 14GW and provides some 20% of Brazil's electricity needs. However, erratic rainfall patterns over the past few years, combined with the fact that almost all large rivers have been dammed, have limited the prospects for new large hydroelectric power projects.

In contrast, growing demand for efficient and competitive biofuels has resulted in an ambitious vision to focus the future of electricity generation in Brazil more on biomass. Sugarcane ethanol production yields a very large mass of waste, called bagasse, which is used to (co-)generate electricity. An initial step in the EPE's bio-electricity vision was the recent auction of 7.8GW of biopower: more than 118 sugarcane factories capable of generating excess green electricity ready to be fed into the national grid, registered to participate in the auction (previous post).

According to the National Energy Evaluation, the current situation looks as follows (table, click to enlarge): ethanol and pulp accounted for 16% of Brazil’s total energy output in 2007, up from 14.5% the previous year. Hydroelectric power remained essentially stable at 14.7%, down 0.1 percentage points from 2006. Oil and derivatives retained the top spot with 36.7% of output, down from the 2006 level of 37.8%. Bioenergy has thus become Brazil's second largest primary energy source:
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Overall, the Brazilian demand for all forms of energy grew 5.9% in 2007, totaling 239.4 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe). The rate of growth for energy demand was greater than the growth in the Brazilian economy (5.4%).

Brazil's sustainable energy mix might hold the future for many African countries. Not less than 25 countries there have a very large land and agroecological resource base that allows for the production of highly efficient energy crops, like sugarcane or sorghum.

With oil and coal prices at record highs, and other, less-cost effective renewables like wind or solar not being capable of providing reliable baseloads, biomass may become the most important form of primary energy on the African continent.

EPE: Cana-de-açúcar já é a segunda fonte primária de energia no Brasil [*.Pdf] - May 8, 2008

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


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