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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.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Company to build 35MW biomass plant in Liberia: waste rubberwood feedstock

Canada's Buchanan Renewable Energies has pledged to construct a 35MW integrated biomass electricity generation power plant in Paynesville to supply electricity to Monrovia. Power supplies in Liberia's capital are erratic, with the poor country's main electricity facility - a large hydroelectric power plant - still damaged because of the civil war that kept the West African country in its grip for years.

Buchanan Renewable's president Stan Ridley told a news conference that the power plant will use rubberwood chips to produce cheap and affordable electricity for Liberians. The rubberwood comes from plantations that are no longer productive and were up for replanting.

After the useful economic lifespan of rubber tapping, the older practice was to burn the 'useless' trees, because removing and reusing the resource as lumber was a costly process. Burning obviously means the release of a large amount of greenhouse gases. But today, with skyrocketing energy prices, it has become a profitable proposition to use rubber trees as a feedstock for green energy production.

Operations to construct the 35MW biomass power plant are expected to commence in December 2010 with an investment estimated at more than US$100 million.

Meanwhile a smaller, 7 MW power plant will be constructed by Buchanan Renewables and is expected to be in operation by next year December. Ridley confirmed that his company is in talks with the Liberian Government regarding the construction of the power plant. Ridley said that as soon as Buchanan Renewables and the Liberian Government reach an agreement “construction work would immediately begin”.

Liberia's installed power capacity is currently rated at around 188MW. Buchanan Renewable's planned 42MW will thus mean a relatively large and much needed increase in capacity for the country:
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Ridley further added that his company has brought US$17.5 million worth of equipment not only meant for the work of Buchanan Renewables but also for the construction of roads. The foundation which owns Buchanan Renewables has also promised to invest back company profit into health care delivery, education and capacity building.

Interestingly, Buchanan Renewables shows that instead of creating new energy crop plantations or instead of burning biomass to get rid of it, there is a large potential in utilizing existing resources and biomass waste streams for energy.

However, it is not clear whether the rubberwood chips to be used will be obtained from whole trees, or whether the resource is a residue from a sawnwood operation. Rubberwood has alternative uses as timber for the production of a variety of wood products such as furniture and building materials.

Africa News: Liberia: Plans for biomass plant announced - July 16, 2008.

UNData: Electricity, net installed capacity of electric power plants - Liberia.


Anonymous Green Collar Guy said...

green business to support developing countries. peace talks are one thing. actually doing something good for the country is another. providing them with more renewable energy and building roads will help their economy more than us just switching out leaders.
as michael jackson said: liberian girl, you know that you cam and you changed my world.

6:58 PM  

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