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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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Friday, July 25, 2008

Green Planet Energy to invest $228 million in 14 biomass projects in Punjab

Green Planet Energy Private Limited announced today it will invest a sum of 9.6 billion rupees (US$228/€145 million) on setting up 14 biomass power projects in the Indian state of Punjab. The plan would add 147MW of renewable energy to the state's portfolio. The investment is part of the Punjabi government's ambitious plans to shift towards green energy sources. According to the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA), bioenergy is the leading form of renewable energy for the 'green state', with a potential of more than 1.4 GW. Wind, solar and micro-hydro are also in the portfolio and are attracting (smaller) investments, all aimed at meeting a goal of generating 1500MW of 'non-conventional' power by 2012.

Green Planet Energy is a 'Special Purpose Vehicle' formed by a consortium of three companies - Kamala Mills Ltd, Darashaw & Co and MPPL Renewable Energy Pvt Ltd - to promote biomass based power projects. The company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Punjab Agro Industries Corporation, the state-owned agricultural promotion agency, to initiate the investment process. Proposed under the so-called 'Agri-Mega Project Scheme' of the Punjab government, the company has planned to generate 147 MW of biomass-based power in the state with the project providing direct employment for 3,000 persons and indirect employment for more than 7,500 people.

MPPL Renewable Energy, one of the project partners, has already successfully commissioned a 4.5 MW biomass-fed steam cycle power plant near Mysore in Karnataka. This power plant obtained the world's first Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) under the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Supported by Germany's development agency GTZ, MPPL is now registering more than 600 MWe worth of modular biomass power plants across India, under the CDM.

The pioneering plant in Karnataka uses low density crop residues, such as coconut fronds and sugarcane trash. The biomass supply chain for this plant has created 450 jobs and contributes around 45 million rupees ($1.1 million/€680,000) per year of additional rural income to farmers. The company was able to overcome slagging/corrosion problems typical of working with low density biomass feedstocks. Boiler availability is now 87.71% and efficiency reaches a level of 76.54%.

The smooth operation of the power plant, the success of the biomass supply chain, and the good prospects for validating the projects as part of the CDM, formed the basis for the new investment by Green Planet Energy.

The large new project is part of a range of recent investments in biomass, wind and solar in Punjab, one of India's most thriving states. The success of the bioenergy sector can be explained by the fact that Punjab is the leading agricultural region of India, home to the original 'Green Revolution'. The state alone produces almost a fifth of all of India's food. Large streams of waste biomass are available for the production of efficient electricity.

Ambitious goals
PEDA recently announced it plans to invest a total of 51 billion rupees (US$1.2 billion/€772 million) in renewable energy by 2012 to meet a goal of generating 10% (or 1500MW) of the state's total energy from renewables by that year.

To achieve the goal, the biomass sector has attracted investments for 338MW of power projects, so far. Amongst these is German company EnviTec's recently approved 30MW biogas project. Added to this is a loan by the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation, worth 8 billion rupees (€148/US$196 million) which the state government will use for adding an extra 200MW of bioenergy. Today's announcement by Green Planet Energy adds yet another 147MW:
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Amongst the non-biomass based renewables are 21 projects for 250MW of micro hydro-power (most recently with TOSS Hydro for a 20MW project).

PEDA has also invited proposals for 100MW of grid-connected solar power. Private companies have already come on board with solar energy projects worth 17MW (amongst those are Moser Baer, PQES Inc, India Bulls Electricity and Azure Power). According to Bikram Singh Majithia, Punjab’s Minister for Science, Technology and Information, the agency will soon seek proposals for large-scale solar thermal plants.

In December last year (2007) PEDA signed a memorandum with Suzlon for 100MW of wind energy projects in the state.

Added up, Punjab now has approximately 780 MW to 930 MW (based on whether some of these agreements are couched within other announcements or not) of renewables in its portfolio. Based on Punjab’s announced goals of 1500MW from “non-conventional” energy, there are 700-600MW projects yet to be granted.

Image: MPPL's biomass power plant, running on low density agricultural residues. It was the world's first project to receive CERs from the CDM. Credit: MPPL Renewable Energy.

The Economic Times: Green Planet to invest Rs 960 cr in biomass power projects - July 24, 2008.

Biopact: Punjab invests heavily in biomass to feed growing energy needs - June 08, 2007

Bioapact: EnviTec Biogas awarded €30 million 30MW biogas contract in India to bring electricity to rural populations - February 28, 2008

Biopact: Punjab's bioenergy potential from agricultural waste estimated at 1000MW; major investments being made - December 11, 2006


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