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    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, 2007.

    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, 2007.

    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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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The bioeconomy at work: researchers develop remarkable self-healing biopolymer

French scientists have invented a renewable, bio-based polymer that is able to self-repair even when it is sliced in two. The rubber-like material, made from plant oil and urea, was developed on the basis of a new chemistry field called supra-molecular engineering. The material shows exceptional performance such as self-repair through mere contact at room temperature. The researchers report the properties of the new material in the top journal Nature (videos here). The new chemistry field is set to lead to a wide range of new materials applications, with a key role for bio-based feedstocks.

The self-healing material is the fruit of research work conducted in the "Matière Molle et Chimie" Laboratory, a mixed research unit between the CNRS and ESPCI (Ecole Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles) run by Professor Ludwik Leibler, a former colleague of Pierre Gilles de Gennes, 1991 Physics Nobel Prize.

The French researchers show that mass production of the rubber is near: they are already making kilogramme quantities in their Paris laboratories. Better still, the process is almost completely green, and could be entirely so with a few adjustments: an abundant renewable feedstock is used in a 'green chemistry' approach. The self-healing artificial rubber could have applications in anything from adhesives to self-repairing toys, shoes, gloves and bicycle tyres.

How it works
Conventional rubber is made of a single, continuous, stretchy molecule, held together with strong chemical links called covalent bonds. Once these bonds are cut by a break in the material the rubber can not be reassembled.

Leibler's approach was to use small molecular groups instead: the fatty acids from vegetable oil. Reacting these molecules with urea in a two-step process stuck nitrogen-containing chemical groups (amides and imidazolidones) onto the ends of the fatty acids. The fatty acids link to each other using hydrogen bonds — a strong attractive force between hydrogen and another atom, and the bond responsible for holding water molecules to each other.

The resulting molecular system is very non-uniform: some acids have three protruding groups and some have two. This means that the compound can't crystallize into a hard, shatterable material. Instead it can be stretched to five times its original size and then return to normal, albeit slower than an elastic band would — it takes around a minute.

If rubber is cut, the end groups on the acids become exposed, and the hydrogen bonds to neighbouring groups are broken. It is in the amide group's nature to seek out a partner to link up to, and this happens when the cut surfaces are brought back in contact — the hydrogen bonds can form again. The longer the cut ends are held together, the more of these partnerships are made, and the more completely healed the rubber is.

A freshly cut sample can heal enough that the re-stuck rubber can be stretched to twice its size again after just 15 minutes. The system isn't perfect yet — healed rubber that hasn't been left long enough will break again at the original 'wound' site. The broken rubbers will stick only to the other broken piece, and the rubber doesn’t have to be mended immediately — it can still efficiently reform up to 18 hours after being severed.

Other self-healing materials exist, but their bonds knit back together only when heated or a strong force is applied. Leibler’s material works at room temperature, and just requires the two broken bits to be held together gently.

New materials like this one are based on the concept of supramolecular chemistry, a promising branch of chemistry that offers a major improvement potential for everyday applications. From this technique, we can expect materials like ultra-tough bio-based bitumen laid at 140°C instead of 180°C, easily-molded bioplastics with superior mechanical strength and chemical stability, hotmelt glues from vegetable origin, or indeed, biobased self-healing rubber.

Supramolecular chemistry
For over two centuries traditional molecular chemistry has focused on transforming matter by creating permanent bonds linking up atoms within molecules. Polymer chemistry, derived from this traditional chemistry, has developed considerably in the last century, the objective being to produce large molecular chains that combine sturdiness with light weight.

Supramolecular chemistry – a scientific field that has come to the fore in recent years in particular thanks to the Chemistry Nobel Prize presented to Jean-Marie Lehn, Donald Cram and Charles Pedersen in 1987 – consists in building complex assemblies of molecules joined by non-permanent or "reversible" bonds; these assemblies of molecules with a "reversible" structure are called "supramolecular":
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The same assembly principles can by and large be observed in biological systems (e.g. DNA). It is precisely the application of these concepts with the ultimate aim of developing materials with innovative properties that the "Matière Molle et Chimie" Laboratory has been focusing on since 2000. Over the last few years, the Laboratory has developed various supramolecular materials from molecules of different nature (small molecules derived from vegetable oils, large molecular chains in existing polymers) by creating hydrogen bonds between these molecules whose particularity, unlike conventional chemical bonds, is to be "reversible" under the effect of temperature.
This work into supramolecular chemistry shows how collaboration between fundamental research and application-oriented industrial research can lead to major innovations in the field of materials. Supramolecular chemistry is a concept now poised to become an everyday reality. Eventually, this new aproach will yield significant benefits for everyday applications: one can imagine all kinds of articles that could be reused after breaking or cracking thanks to the "auto-healing" process, or polymers, or even varnish or adhesive formulations of vegetable origin which will be processed or applied at relatively low melting temperatures and will afford major energy savings. - Christian Collette, Arkema R&D Vice President
From concept to everyday applications
This new approach to the chemistry of materials is opening up the way to wide-ranging innovations and developments. Materials can indeed be developed from small molecules derived from vegetable oils, and be processed or applied at low temperature, with a behavior in the solid state that is typical of a polymer with large molecular chains, e.g. sturdiness and strength.

Another typical application is the example of an existing conventional polymer which is modified by integrating these temporary bonds, and so will be able to combine excellent fluidity at processing temperature with outstanding properties in the solid state, which are identical to, if not better than, those of an existing non-modified polymer.

Yet another highly promising application can already be envisaged for bitumens laid on high-traffic carriageways: these specialty bitumens are modified with polymers which make them more hard-wearing, albeit to the detriment of their viscosity; they then have to be heated at high temperature (180°C) for a long period of time for their preparation and application, which are highly energy-intensive operations. By adding to the bitumen an additive of vegetable origin derived from supramolecular chemistry, it is possible to lower to 140°C the temperature needed to heat up these bitumens prior to application while keeping their mechanical strength, and facilitate their recycling.

For the self-healing rubber, Leibler has a deal with French chemical company Arkema to develop and commercialize the material. Arkema was a key industrial partner in this research, in particular through its expertise in nanostructured materials, and is entering the phase of commercial development for several materials derived from this research. Leibler would like to see the new rubber used in toys: "children like to break things, if you could heal them it would be very nice."

Arkema is one of the first chemicals producers to develop products based on the supramolecular chemistry technology earmarked for industrial production. The company is also a global leader in the development of biopolymers with superior qualities (such as vegetable oil based bioplastic pipelines for use in the oil exploration and extraction industry, superior to petroleum based riser pipes - more here; or bioplastic fuel lines for aggresive biodiesel - see here).

Cordier, P. , Tournilhac, F. , Soulié-Ziakovic, C. & Leibler, L. Self-healing and thermoreversible rubber from supramolecular assembly, Nature 451, 977–980 (2008), doi:10.1038/news.2008.611.

Nature: Self-healing rubber bounces back - February 20, 2008.

Nature: videos of the self-healing rubber.

Arkema: Supra-molecular chemistry yields new materials with outstanding properties - February 21, 2008.

Biopact: The bioeconomy at work: robust bioplastic used for off-shore oil riser pipes - April 18, 2007

Biopact: The bioeconomy at work: bioplastic fuel lines to handle aggressive biodiesel - December 13, 2006

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CeBIT 2008: agro.Connect rlp creates an IT network for the agricultural domain

At this year’s CeBIT - the world's largest trade fair showcasing digital IT and telecom solutions -, Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Experimentelles Software Engineering (IESE) and the University of Applied Sciences Bingen will jointly present state-of-the-art developments for simplifying business workflows in agriculture. The solution presented enables a farmer to create contract documents and transmit them to service providers and contract partners using the Internet. The agro.Connect rlp could cut administrative costs and time spent on bureaucratic tasks in agriculture.

Using agro.Connect rlp, it will be possible to include geographical data (aerial photographs, location and boundaries of cultivated areas) into agricultural documentation, administration, and business workflows, and exchange them. The crucial issue is the flexible usage of data that has been recorded once, and the avoidance of unnecessary multiple entries. To achieve this goal, the new technology dynamically combines geodata from the state government with user data from farm administration programs (schematic, click to enlarge).

The architecture is based on the principle of data sovereignty: Farm data worth protecting remain under the farmer’s control – a crucial prerequisite for the acceptance of this technology throughout the domain. agro.Connect rlp is being built on the basis of open standards (including XForms, ebXML, UBL, OGC, agroXML) and a service-oriented architecture (SOA); a prototype is being developed and a pilot project is taking place. First practical experiences have already been made; several software developing companies have already expressed their interest in agro.Connect rlp:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The project agro.Connect rlp is being carried out by Fraunhofer IESE and the Competence Center for Innovative Information Systems of the University of Applied Sciences Bingen together with the Service Center Rural Region Rheinhessen-Nahe-Hunsrück. It is funded by the Ministry for Economic Affairs, Transportation, Agriculture and Viniculture of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Other states will also be able to benefit from the developments initiated by the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

Fraunhofer IESE is one of the worldwide leading research institutes in the area of software and systems development. A major portion of the products offered by its collaboration partners is defined by software. These products range from automotive and transportation systems to telecommunication and telematics equipment, from information systems and medical devices to software systems for the public sector.

Under the leadership of Prof. Dieter Rombach and Prof. Peter Liggesmeyer, the past decade has seen Fraunhofer IESE making major contributions to strengthening the emerging IT location Kaiserslautern. In the Fraunhofer Information and Communication Technology Group, it is cooperating with other Fraunhofer institutes on developing trend-setting key technologies for the future.

Fraunhofer IESE is one of 56 institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Europe's leading fundamental science and research organisation.

AlphaGalileo: CeBIT 2008:agro.Connect rlp Creates a Network for the Agricultural Domain - February 20, 2008.

agro.Connect rlp website.

CeBIT 2008.

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Study: Global Biopact on biofuels can bring benefits to both rich and poor nations

A global "Biofuels Biopact" between rich and poor countries can help alleviate poverty in the developing world while helping to solve the problems of global warming and energy security in the developed world, says a new study in the Society of Chemical Industry's journal Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining, accessible at Wiley InterScience.

According to the report's author, John Mathews, professor of Strategic Management at Macquarie University, Australia, a "Biopact" - a trade agreement to guarantee market factors between the North (developed countries) and the South (developing countries) - will enable the expansion of global trade in biofuels under controlled and sustainable conditions, countering recent opinion that biofuels are necessarily unsustainable and will have a negative impact.
Biofuels are important because they span three of the greatest issues of our time -world industrial development; energy security and the transition to a bioeconomy; and global warming. Biofuels have something important to contribute as a solution in each of these three areas -without being a magic bullet or the whole of the solution in any of them.

Indeed, biofuels may be a transitory solution that will phase out after two or three decades as new electric-powered transport systems take over. But in the meantime, biofuels have the potential to bring together North and South in a new Biopact of transcendent significance, promising to allow countries of the South to lift themselves out of poverty through biofuel cultivation, processing and export; and countries of the North to solve their transport and global warming problems by opening up to biofuels produced sustainably and responsibly from the tropical South.
- Professor John Mathews
According to prof Mathews, branding all biofuels from developing countries as unsustainable and blocking exports of these fuels to developed nations is disguised protectionism.

Agriculture in developing countries in the tropics can be more sustainable if it features good practice, because of lower energy inputs, lower water inputs and lower carbon footprints, adds the chair of Strategic Management, who has been tracking industrial transformations in the developing world for decades. Good practice can be assured precisely by such a trade pact.
A global Biopact could include measures to prevent clearing rainforest for biofuels production, for example. If markets in the North for responsibly produced biofuels are opened, then fuels grown irresponsibly can effectively be banned. - Professor Mathews
Opening up the markets could also allow EU countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by importing carbon-neutral biofuels grown in the tropical South. Professor Mathews lent support to the idea that carbon credits could be earned by maintaining rainforests intact.

The study suggests that 2,000 biorefineries in the South could be built over a decade with investment costing approx US$240 billion over 10 years - in contrast with US$470 billion predicted by the International Energy Agency to be invested in the conventional fossil fuel industry by 2010:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Greater investment in biofuels could improve agricultural efficiency and increase yield of non-food crops, generating income and enabling a greater ability to purchase food and improve technology to increase agricultural production of food crops. - Professor Mathews
However, according to the author, such a win-win investment can only be undertaken if markets in the North are guaranteed. The best means of achieving such an investment-grade guarantee is through a comprehensive global trade agreement.

Picture: ethanol factory in Brazil's Sao Paulo region, where sugarcane is processed into highly efficient biofuel and green electricity.

John A. Mathews, "Biofuels, climate change and industrial development: can the tropical South build 2000 biorefineries in the next decade?", Biofuels, Bioproducts & Biorefining, published online 20 Feb 2008, DOI: 10.1002/bbb.63

Eurekalert: Global Biopact on biofuels can bring benefits to both rich and poor nations - February 20, 2008.

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Biofuels could transform Cuba into a prosperous nation

Cuba once was the world's largest sugar exporter, but since the collapse of the Soviet Union its output declined dramatically. Today, the island state is a shadow of its former self. Even though the emerging ethanol market holds major potential for the revival of Cuba's economy, Fidel Castro has spoken out against the fuel, claiming it endangers food security. This was mainly a rhetorical exercise, aimed at slamming the United States, because despite the criticism, Cuba has been quietly investing in its own ethanol infrastructure, striking deals with Venezuela and Nigeria.

With Castro gone and his brother Raul taking over, Cuba could become a major player on the world biofuels scene and reap major social, economic and environmental benefits in the process. Raul Castro is said to be a pragmatist, and a fan of biofuels. The sector could offer an excellent opportunity for the country to transform its economy gradually into a more open, market-oriented system.

Sugar has always played a key role in Cuba's ideological history. Fidel Castro grew up on his father's plantation, where he witnessed inequality at work. This experience was part of his transformation into a revolutionary. Once he came to power, the U.S. touched the island's pride by reducing its raw sugar import quota by 7 million tons. This led Cuba to retaliate: it nationalised some $850 million worth of US property and businesses.

With the U.S. sugar market off limits, Castro looked at the Soviets, and immediately struck a 'sugar for oil' deal with them - his first large trade agreement. In 1970 he kickstarted a megalomaniacal project - typical of revolutionary leaders - calling for a doubling in sugar output. The infamous 'Ten Million Tonne Harvest' plan forced every able man to become a cane planter and cutter. The scheme met with relative success, and the island produced a record 80 million tons of cane (graph, click to enlarge).

Cuba now became increasingly dependent on the USSR for most of its manufactured goods and for oil, which it could partially pay for with sugar. At the height of the industry's capacity, over 150 sugar factories processed between 70 and 80 million tons of cane, exporting 10 million tons per year. This propelled Cuba into its status of the world's largest exporter.

But then the Soviet empire collapsed, and with it Cuba's sugar based economy. Output declined catastrophically from more than 80 million tons in 1990, to less than 10 million tons of cane today. Since 2003 Cuba has dismantled 71 out of its 156 sugar factories. Of the 70 working plants, half are lying idle or are producing under capacity. A nation that once exported 10 million tons of sugar per year produced a mere 1.5 million tons in 2006, of which a meager 1 million tons to be exported.

The new ethanol industry is the most obvious low hanging fruit for Cuba's leaders to revive the island's economy. Analyses show the country has the capacity to produce between 2 and 3.2. billion gallons of exportable ethanol from existing plantations. This figure puts Cuba into the big league, placing it right behind the U.S. and Brazil as the third largest producer.

Given that sugarcane yields highly competitive biofuels that needn't be subsidised, tapping this potential would bring in major economic returns. What is more, the sector would also bring a reliable and renewable supply of electricity to the country's population. As is done in Brazil, ethanol factories utilize bagasse - the residue from cane pressing - to cogenerate heat and power, excess electricity being fed into the grid. Biofuels could thus bring a huge number of jobs, foreign currency, and energy to Cuba:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

But this scenario will entirely depend on the economic policies of the island's new leaders, and on America's willingness to engage with them. Analysts are speculating that Fidel's exit opens the door to economic reform like that seen in China.

Meanwhile, despite Castro's criticism of biofuels - mainly a rhetorical exercise aimed at slamming the United States - Cuba is quietly modernizing its ethanol infrastructure. It has struck deals for ethanol plants with Venezuela, and has been cooperating with African countries, most notably Nigeria.

Fidel Castro was most outspoken against ethanol, and especially against America's corn based industry. He divided the international left, with him getting backing from Hugo Chavez (who prefers to play oil games), while more moderate social democrats - Brazil's Lula, Italy's Prodi, and Chile's Bachelet - seeing social and economic opportunities in the sector (previous post).

Contrary to his brother, Raul Castro is seen as a pragmatist who is more concerned with improving Cubans' daily lives than spreading the revolution. He has spoken out in favor of biofuels, especially in the context of providing local energy security. But to kickstart an export oriented biofuels revolution in Cuba, foreign investments are needed. New and efficient sugar processing plants, ethanol conversion facilities, and cogeneration plants need to be build.

It remains to be seen whether analysts are right in thinking Raul is to favor loosening state control on Cuba's economy and thus allow these crucial investments to come in. The country has said it would allow foreign investment in its tourism industry, and several European businesses have indeed entered the sector. However, the sugar and ethanol industry is different, because it touches a key sensitivity of Cuba's economy - nationalised sugar production in Cuba remains a matter of pride.

In any case, if foreign investments are allowed, Cuba could become a major exporter, because its own fuel needs are very small. In 2006, Cuba consumed around 150,000 barrels of oil per day, of which 50,000 barrels were met by local production. Its small oil imports make analysts optimistic about Cuba's ethanol export potential: assessments show that if it were to export 3 billion gallons per year - a feasible option - it would generate around US$ 7 billion per year.

The ethanol would not likely enter the U.S. market, because America's State Department has said the country won't end its trade embargo anywhere soon. However, there are enough other markets interested in highly competitive sugarcane based ethanol. The EU, which is far more pragmatic towards Cuba, would be the most obvious choice as the Union has recognised it will have to rely on imports in order to meet its renewable fuel targets.

What is more, the biofuel would come from former and existing plantations, and thus have a very strong environmental profile. No new land would need to be cleared, making the fuels largely sustainable and green.


Juan Tomas Sanchez, Cuba y el etanol: proyeciones para una economía privada [*.pdf], Cuba in Transition: Volume 17, Papers and Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy, August 2–4, 2007.

Biopact: Cuba quietly upgrading its ethanol plants to produce biofuels - May 25, 2007

Biopact: Cuba and Venezuela agree to build 11 ethanol plants, co-operate on biofuels - March 02, 2007

Biopact: Cuba set to become major ethanol producer - November 18, 2006

Biopact: Nigerian NGO calls for ethanol cooperation with Cuba - July 24, 2007

Biopact: Biofuels and the left - who's right: Lula, Prodi, Castro or Chavez? - April 05, 2007

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Laidlaw Energy converts old paper mill into 65MW biomass plant, revives local economy

Renewable energy is often said to be costly compared with fossil fuels. But with record energy prices, this is changing rapidly. What is more, now that an almost level playing field is emerging, the many potential social benefits of renewable energy projects become apparent. Renewables are job generating machines (see the IEA's renewable energy job calculator). Given their decentralisable nature, green energy projects can often revive the economies of regions that are facing economic hardship. An interesting example comes from Northern New Hampshire. There, Laidlaw Berlin, LLC, an affiliate of Laidlaw Energy group, Inc., has agreed to acquire the former Fraser Paper Mill located in Berlin, with the objective of converting and upgrading the facility infrastructure in order to construct a 65 megawatt biomass-energy power plant.

The Northern region of New Hampshire where the facility is situated has experienced significant economic hardship over the last few years, due to the closure of several pulp and paper mills resulting in the loss of approximately 1,000 jobs. The pulp and paper mill closures have resulted not only in the loss of direct jobs but also in a substantial reduction of biomass consumption, thus having a significant adverse effect on the regional economy. The Berlin Project will help to reverse this trend by investing over US$20 million per annum into the regional economy for biomass fuel purchases.

By reclaiming the old infrastructure and turning it into a renewable energy power plant, direct jobs are created at the biomass plant, and approximately 500 indirect jobs emerge in the feedstock supply sector. Since the plant will utilize both forestry residues and recycled wood, employment is generated in these segments of the local economy. Further opportunities arise in the transport and infrastructure sector needed to make the plant work.

The Berlin biomass-energy project will be one of the largest and most environmentally sound biomass-energy facilities in the United States. It is expected to utilize in excess of 700,000 tons of clean whole tree wood chips per year in order to generate approximately 65 megawatts of green electricity:
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The fuel source for the Berlin Project will be whole tree wood chips and other low-grade wood, which are the byproducts of the local forest products industry and land management practices. Generally, whole tree chips are produced from trees unsuitable for use in lumber or paper mills, or from the tops and branches of trees harvested for lumber. Other clean wood products, such as wood residue from sawmills, is also suitable for fuel. Biomass fuel will be trucked to the facility in 20 ton live bottom trailers. The Facility also has rail access which may offer opportunities for cheap fuel from other regions (e.g., storm debris from the Southern U.S.).

Among the key assets to be acquired by Laidlaw is the facility's Babcock & Wilcox boiler, which was installed in 1993 at a cost of nearly $100 million. The B&W boiler, with a steam capacity of about 600,000 lbs per hour after biomass conversion, will be converted for Laidlaw by B&W pursuant to a fixed price contact with standard and customary completion and performance guarantees.

B&W intends to install a bubbling fluidized bed in the boiler, which represents the current state-of-the-art in low admission, advanced biomass combustion. B&W has completed a feasibility study confirming this approach. B&W is also expected to provide and guarantee the back-end emissions controls for the boiler to ensure compliance with New Hampshire Renewable Portfolio Standards, thus ensuring the Berlin Project's ability to sell its renewable attributes, known as "RECs".

The existing infrastructure at the old mill provides a significant advantage in terms of the work involved in the construction of the the Berlin project as compared with a "Greenfield" project - a new power plant built from scratch. The key elements of the upgrades required to be made to the facility are (1) the installation of the bubbling fluidized bed in the existing B&W boiler, (2) the installation of the back-end emissions equipment for RPS compliance, (3) the construction of a turbine building and installation of the steam turbine generator, and (4) the construction of the fuel yard and installation of wood handling equipment (some of which already exists at the facility).

In 2007, New Hampshire signed into law a state Renewable Portfolio Standard ("RPS"), which requires that utilities obtain 25% of their energy supply from renewable resources by 2025, with an annually increasing minimum requirements starting in 2008 until the 25% requirement is met in 2025. Utilities meet their legislative mandate by purchasing RECs from renewable generators or by paying into the state-established Renewable Energy Fund at a default rate per megawatt hour known as the "Alternative Compliance Payment". Laidlaw is currently at an advanced stage of negotiations with a local utility concerning a 15 - 20 year power purchase agreement for 100% of the Berlin project's power output, RECs and capacity.

Laidlaw announced today that it has filed an application with the operator of the New England power grid, ISO New England, for the interconnection the bienergy project. This is a significant milestone in the development process of the project.

Separately, Laidlaw announced that the 30 day appeal period in connection with the January 10, 2008, unanimous approval for the subdivision of the former Fraser pulp mill site in Berlin to be acquired by Laidlaw has expired without any appeals. This paves the way for the imminent closing of acquisition and related financing. Laidlaw is currently in the process of finalizing these arrangements.

Laidlaw has a vision to take things further: ultimately, the old industrial site should become a 'Bioenergy Commerce' park, where bioproducts manufacturers and researchers can come together and integrate their activities in a 'cascading' resource model. In such a model, waste from one renewable products process becomes feedstock for another process.

Business Wire: Laidlaw Berlin, N.H. Biomass Energy Project Files for Interconnection to New England Power Grid - February 20, 2008.

Laidlaw Energy: Berlin Biomass Power Project overview.

Laidlaw Energy: Berlin Biomass Project Questions and Answers [*.pdf].

Laidlaw Energy: The Laidlaw Berlin Bio-Commerce Park [*.pdf].

Biopact: Renewable energy jobs calculator - August 07, 2007.

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