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    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.

    In just four months, the use of biodiesel in the transport sector has substantially improved air quality in Metro Manila, data from the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) showed. A blend of one percent coco-biodiesel is mandated by the Biofuels Act of 2007 which took effect last May. By 2009, it would be increased to two percent. Philippine Star - December 4, 2007.

    Kazakhstan will next year adopt laws to regulate its fledgling biofuel industry and plans to construct at least two more plants in the next 18 months to produce environmentally friendly fuel from crops, industry officials said. According to Akylbek Kurishbayev, vice-minister for agriculture, he Central Asian country has the potential to produce 300,000 tons a year of biodiesel and export half. Kazakhstan could also produce up to 1 billion liters of bioethanol, he said. "The potential is huge. If we use this potential wisely, we can become one of the world's top five producers of biofuels," Beisen Donenov, executive director of the Kazakhstan Biofuels Association, said on the sidelines of a grains forum. Reuters - November 30, 2007.

    SRI Consulting released a report on chemicals from biomass. The analysis highlights six major contributing sources of green and renewable chemicals: increasing production of biofuels will yield increasing amounts of biofuels by-products; partial decomposition of certain biomass fractions can yield organic chemicals or feedstocks for the manufacture of various chemicals; forestry has been and will continue to be a source of pine chemicals; evolving fermentation technology and new substrates will also produce an increasing number of chemicals. Chemical Online - November 27, 2007.

    German industrial conglomerate MAN AG plans to expand into renewable energies such as biofuels and solar power. Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said services unit Ferrostaal would lead the expansion. Reuters - November 24, 2007.

    Analysts think Vancouver-based Ballard Power Systems, which pumped hundreds of millions and decades of research into developing hydrogen fuel cells for cars, is going to sell its automotive division. Experts describe the development as "the death of the hydrogen highway". The problems with H2 fuel cell cars are manifold: hydrogen is a mere energy carrier and its production requires a primary energy input; production is expensive, as would be storage and distribution; finally, scaling fuel cells and storage tanks down to fit in cars remains a huge challenge. Meanwhile, critics have said that the primary energy for hydrogen can better be used for electricity and electric vehicles. On a well-to-wheel basis, the cleanest and most efficient way to produce hydrogen is via biomass, so the news is a set-back for the biohydrogen community. But then again, biomass can be used more efficiently as electricity for battery cars. Canada.com - November 21, 2007.

    South Korea plans to invest 20 billion won (€14.8/$21.8 million) by 2010 on securing technologies to develop synthetic fuels from biomass, coal and natural gas, as well as biobutanol. 29 private companies, research institutes and universities will join this first stage of the "next-generation clean energy development project" led by South Korea's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. Korea Times - November 19, 2007.

    OPEC leaders began a summit today with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez issuing a chilling warning that crude prices could double to US$200 from their already-record level if the United States attacked Iran or Venezuela. He urged assembled leaders from the OPEC, meeting for only the third time in the cartel's 47-year history, to club together for geopolitical reasons. But the cartel is split between an 'anti-US' block including Venezuela, Iran, and soon to return ex-member Ecuador, and a 'neutral' group comprising most Gulf States. France24 - November 17, 2007.

    The article "Biofuels: What a Biopact between North and South could achieve" published in the scientific journal Energy Policy (Volume 35, Issue 7, 1 July 2007, Pages 3550-3570) ranks number 1 in the 'Top 25 hottest articles'. The article was written by professor John A. Mathews, Macquarie University (Sydney, Autralia), and presents a case for a win-win bioenergy relationship between the industrialised and the developing world. Mathews holds the Chair of Strategic Management at the university, and is a leading expert in the analysis of the evolution and emergence of disruptive technologies and their global strategic management. ScienceDirect - November 16, 2007.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

HSE to build biomass CHP plant at Aschaffenburg harbor, waste-heat used for drying wood pellets

Germany's HEAG Südhessische Energie AG (HSE) announced it is investing €12.5 million in a biomass cogeneration plant in the harbor of Aschaffenburg, a large town in northwest Bavaria located on the bank of the Main. The power plant will provide 3000 households with electricity, 600 with heat via a district heating grid, whereas excess heat will be used to dry biomass that will be turned into pellets for the domestic heating market. This makes the combined heat and power plant highly efficient.

The capacity of the facility is 1.3MW electric and 8 MW thermal. It will generate around 10,400 MWh of electricity and 13,800 MWh of heat per year. The plant will exclusively utilize wood from the region's forestry and agriculture sector. Using a climate-friendly and renewable resource, the plant will prevent around 18,000 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

The bulky biomass resources will be transported over the Main river to the Bayernhafen (Aschaffenburg harbor), a trimodal port and the main logistical hub of the Rhine-Main region. This makes the supply chain highly energy efficient as inland shipping is by far the least fuel demanding transport option per ton-kilometer, thus greening the power project further.

Besides producing electricity and heat for the residents of Aschaffenburg, excess heat will be used in a biomass drying facility, where wood chips and sawdust are preprocessed into feedstock for the production of biomass pellets. Heating with pellets has become a thriving sector in Bavaria.

The biomass power plant is to be build on a 17,000 square meter site with construction to begin shortly. From next year's winter season onwards, the facility should be in operation:
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The €12.5 million plant will be managed by a new company called 'Bioenergie Aschaffenburg GmbH', with shares held by the Aschaffenburger Versorgungsgesellschaft (64.9%), HSE itself (25.1 %) and a HEAG AG subsidiary dealing with energy distribution, the Entsorgungs-AG (10%).
Because of climate change, the utilization of clean and efficient energy carriers like wood for the generation of power and heat will grow strongly in Germany in the next few years. - Albert Filbert, CEO of HSE
Bioenergie Aschaffenburg will feed the electricity into the grid under Germany's Renewable Energy Law (Erneuerbare Energiengesetz) which provides incentives. AVG will manage the supply of heat through its own district heating network as well as for the biomass drying installation.

HSE is an energy concern servicing 1 million people, as well as industry and business. Via its subsidiaries and joint-ventures it is active in the generation of power, in distribution, in energy trade, in energy data management and in the design and construction of power plants. It is also active as a water utility.

Picture: the Bayernhafen in Aschaffenburg, site of the new biomass cogeneration plant. Biomass will be supplied via ship, a highly efficient transport option. Credit: Bayernhafen Gruppe.

HSE AG: HSE investiert in Biomasse-Kraftwerk in Aschaffenburg - Anlage vermeidet 18.000 Tonnen CO2 pro Jahr - December 27, 2007.

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Narbonne launches biomass district heating and solar for 1000 social homes

The French historic city of Narbonne has launched a sustainable housing project that integrates renewables into 1000 social homes and public buildings. The socalled 'HLM' buildings (Habitation à Loyer Modéré - Home with a low rent) will be heated by a district heating system based on biomass used in a cogeneration plant, as an alternative to polluting and ever more costly heating oil. The project is a public-private venture, led by the city council, European renewable energy major Dalkia, HLM construction companies, national electricity company EDF and ADEME, France's environment and energy agency. It is part of the ambition to build a zero-emissions 'eco-quartier'.

The biomass district heating system will be build in the quarter of St-Jean St-Pierre in Narbonne, Southern France, to sevice 1000 homes thus meeting the requirements of several thousand people. Schools, colleges, day care centers (picture, click to enlarge) and other public buildings will be connected as well. The biomass cogeneration plant (two times 1.5MW) will utilize biomass harvested sustainably in the region, and deliver green electricity while pumping excess heat as hot water through a network of pipelines and 16 substations. This will provide around 60% of the new quarter's heating needs, the rest coming from natural gas and 1600 square meters of solar water heating panels.

The project, which saw an investment of €3 million, is the initial step towards structuring the emerging biomass sector in the Languedoc-Roussillion region. It will develop a distribution and logistical infrastructure for the biofuel and demonstrate the workings of the entire supply chain. To lessen both the audiovisual pollution of trucks continuously carrying biomass to the site and to guarantee supply security, a biomass stocking facility will be built that limits trucking activity to only four days a week (not in weekends) and that builds up enough fuel to meet supply at all times.

The city council of Narbonne chose a mix of renewables not only as an eco-friendly solution, but out of sheer economic reasons: biomass for heating has become more attractive than heating with either heating oil, natural gas or electricity. Solar water heating integrates well with the hot water pipelines of the district heating system.

One of Europe's largest energy engineering firms, Dalkia, is responsible for implementing the technical aspects of the project. But it too stresses the crucial role of local communities and 'politics on the ground' to realise renewable energy projects: local government can create a policy framework, but communities can initiate calls for sustainability, build enthusiasm, vision and disseminate projects' pros and cons:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Because of this interest 'from below' Narbonne's local politicians have been very active in trying to create a greener city.

Another integrated project tries to make a historic quarter (Quartier du Théâtre) entirely green, with zero pollution and emissions. Seven objectives drive this green urbanism project:

1. no CO2 emissions
2. a quartier without cars, and instead with a clean public transport system and an efficient, controlled mobility
3. passive solar buildings that cut energy consumption by half
4. meeting the remaining energy needs by integrated renewables (biomass, solar, wind, geothermal)
5. intelligent water use, rainwater harvesting, utilizing efficient sanitary installations - all with the aim of cutting drinking water consumption by half
6. selective waste management and silent collection of waste
7. public services and incentives aimed at encouraging citizens to propose green initiatives and to provide incentives to allow them to implement their own eco-gestures (whether it is building with natural materials or heating with renewables)

As part of this project, it build the first zero-fossil-energy day care center, a demonstration to show passive energy buildings can be heated and cooled by natural building materials (wood, earth), by the way in which they're sited and by renewables (in this case by the biomass district heating system). The center is spacious, light and contains clean, eco-friendly, child-centered materials such as natural rubber floors.

The city also operates a 1MW biogas power plant that utilizes both household waste as well as dedicated energy crops, on a site landscaped as a carbon sink, with thousands of trees. The plant services around 2500 households.

Another initiative consists of a public bicycle system which offers city bikes for rent to transit towards healthy, efficient and sustainable urban mobility.

Incentives are in place for citizens who want to build in a green way or who want to utilize renewables in their homes - solar panels, small wind turbines, or biomass heating systems.

All this is part of the Narbonne21 agenda, an ambitious program aimed at turning this cozy Mediterranean city into a clean, pleasant and green living space.

City of Narbonne: Tour 21, sustainable development [*.pdf] (leaflet).

City of Narbonne: Quartier du Théâtre [*.pdf] (presentation of the green urbanism project).

City of Narbonne: zero-energy day care center.

La Dépêche: Un millier de logements chauffés par la biomasse - January 10, 2007.

Dalkia: Energie solaire pour préserver l'environnement en milieu résidentiel.

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