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    Spanish company Ferry Group is to invest €42/US$55.2 million in a project for the production of biomass fuel pellets in Bulgaria. The 3-year project consists of establishing plantations of paulownia trees near the city of Tran. Paulownia is a fast-growing tree used for the commercial production of fuel pellets. Dnevnik - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Hungary's BHD Hõerõmû Zrt. is to build a 35 billion Forint (€138/US$182 million) commercial biomass-fired power plant with a maximum output of 49.9 MW in Szerencs (northeast Hungary). Portfolio.hu - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Tonight at 9pm, BBC Two will be showing a program on geo-engineering techniques to 'save' the planet from global warming. Five of the world's top scientists propose five radical scientific inventions which could stop climate change dead in its tracks. The ideas include: a giant sunshade in space to filter out the sun's rays and help cool us down; forests of artificial trees that would breath in carbon dioxide and stop the green house effect and a fleet futuristic yachts that will shoot salt water into the clouds thickening them and cooling the planet. BBC News - Feb. 19, 2007.

    Archer Daniels Midland, the largest U.S. ethanol producer, is planning to open a biodiesel plant in Indonesia with Wilmar International Ltd. this year and a wholly owned biodiesel plant in Brazil before July, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The Brazil plant is expected to be the nation's largest, the paper said. Worldwide, the company projects a fourfold rise in biodiesel production over the next five years. ADM was not immediately available to comment. Reuters - Feb. 16, 2007.

    Finnish engineering firm Pöyry Oyj has been awarded contracts by San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. to provide services for the first bioethanol plant in the Philippines. The aggregate contract value is EUR 10 million. The plant is to be build in the Province of San Carlos on the north-eastern tip of Negros Island. The plant is expected to deliver 120,000 liters/day of bioethanol and 4 MW of excess power to the grid. Kauppalehti Online - Feb. 15, 2007.

    In order to reduce fuel costs, a Mukono-based flower farm which exports to Europe, is building its own biodiesel plant, based on using Jatropha curcas seeds. It estimates the fuel will cut production costs by up to 20%. New Vision (Kampala, Uganda) - Feb. 12, 2007.

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has decided to use 10% biodiesel in its fleet of public buses. The world's largest city is served by the Toei Bus System, which is used by some 570,000 people daily. Digital World Tokyo - Feb. 12, 2007.

    Fearing lack of electricity supply in South Africa and a price tag on CO2, WSP Group SA is investing in a biomass power plant that will replace coal in the Letaba Citrus juicing plant which is located in Tzaneen. Mining Weekly - Feb. 8, 2007.

    In what it calls an important addition to its global R&D capabilities, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) is to build a new bioenergy research center in Hamburg, Germany. World Grain - Feb. 5, 2007.

    EthaBlog's Henrique Oliveira interviews leading Brazilian biofuels consultant Marcelo Coelho who offers insights into the (foreign) investment dynamics in the sector, the history of Brazilian ethanol and the relationship between oil price trends and biofuels. EthaBlog - Feb. 2, 2007.

    The government of Taiwan has announced its renewable energy target: 12% of all energy should come from renewables by 2020. The plan is expected to revitalise Taiwan's agricultural sector and to boost its nascent biomass industry. China Post - Feb. 2, 2007.

    Production at Cantarell, the world's second biggest oil field, declined by 500,000 barrels or 25% last year. This virtual collapse is unfolding much faster than projections from Mexico's state-run oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos. Wall Street Journal - Jan. 30, 2007.

    Dubai-based and AIM listed Teejori Ltd. has entered into an agreement to invest €6 million to acquire a 16.7% interest in Bekon, which developed two proprietary technologies enabling dry-fermentation of biomass. Both technologies allow it to design, establish and operate biogas plants in a highly efficient way. Dry-Fermentation offers significant advantages to the existing widely used wet fermentation process of converting biomass to biogas. Ame Info - Jan. 22, 2007.

    Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited is to build a biofuel production plant in the tribal belt of Banswara, Rajasthan, India. The petroleum company has acquired 20,000 hectares of low value land in the district, which it plans to commit to growing jatropha and other biofuel crops. The company's chairman said HPCL was also looking for similar wasteland in the state of Chhattisgarh. Zee News - Jan. 15, 2007.

    The Zimbabwean national police begins planting jatropha for a pilot project that must result in a daily production of 1000 liters of biodiesel. The Herald (Harare), Via AllAfrica - Jan. 12, 2007.

    In order to meet its Kyoto obligations and to cut dependence on oil, Japan has started importing biofuels from Brazil and elsewhere. And even though the country has limited local bioenergy potential, its Agriculture Ministry will begin a search for natural resources, including farm products and their residues, that can be used to make biofuels in Japan. To this end, studies will be conducted at 900 locations nationwide over a three-year period. The Japan Times - Jan. 12, 2007.

    Chrysler's chief economist Van Jolissaint has launched an arrogant attack on "quasi-hysterical Europeans" and their attitudes to global warming, calling the Stern Review 'dubious'. The remarks illustrate the yawning gap between opinions on climate change among Europeans and Americans, but they also strengthen the view that announcements by US car makers and legislators about the development of green vehicles are nothing more than window dressing. Today, the EU announced its comprehensive energy policy for the 21st century, with climate change at the center of it. BBC News - Jan. 10, 2007.

    The new Canadian government is investing $840,000 into BioMatera Inc. a biotech company that develops industrial biopolymers (such as PHA) that have wide-scale applications in the plastics, farmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Plant-based biopolymers such as PHA are biodegradable and renewable. Government of Canada - Jan. 9, 2007.


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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Namibia's energy-intensive economy aiming to cut oil imports through biofuels

Experts and interested parties in bioenergy meet tomorrow in Windhoek to agree on a framework that will see Namibia growing and processing biofuels. The workshop, open to farmers, entrepreneurs, experts in renewable fuels and others, will deliberate on a final draft consultancy report on the National Bio-Energy Road Map and agree on the way forward. (For an overview of where Namibia's National Bio-Energy Road Map currently stands, see Namibia: Bio-energy and Carbon Credits Focus Meeting [*.pfd])

The production of bioenergy in the country would not only yield energy products such as biodiesel, ethanol and biomass but also adds potential for so-called 'environmental goods and services' such as carbon gains and bio-diversity conservation.


Namibia's Interim Bio-Energy Committee considers Jatropha curcas to be the most suitable crop for its biofuels program, because it can be grown on arid and marginal land.
The roadmap on which the workshop will deliberate identifies and analyses the relevant system of elements of bioenergy production and use in Namibia within the context of policy and strategy and also identifies the appropriate strategy that the country should follow to achieve a sustainable bioenergy industry. Over 50 people have so far registered for the daylong workshop, according to Christof Brock, the Namibia Agronomic Board's Chief Executive Officer and also the chairman of the Interim Bio-Energy Committee.

The government funded the study to draw up a roadmap for all decisions, institutional arrangements, international agreements, legislation to create a conducive environment in Namibia to grow and process biofuels. The draft report says Namibia has a highly energy-intensive economy while its energy requirements are still modest compared to other countries in the southern African region, due to its small population. It solely relies on imports for fuel and most of its electricity needs.

"There are good prospects if the country works in unity," said Brock, adding that institutional arrangements on where government ministries of the private sector will spearhead the process. He said it was possible for Namibia to plant over 60000 hectares of Jatropha curcas, a perennial crop, which apart from producing bio diesel from, would also enable small-scale and commercial farmers to diversify their production. Biodiesel, added Brock, is a better model compared to ethanol, which is produced from maize because Namibia does not even produce enough maize for consumption. Meanwhile, a seed company, according to the CEO has already imported seeds from India in anticipation that there will be demand when the project gets off the ground.

"Lots of farmers want to start," he added:

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Biofuels are becoming popular alternatives due to increasing prices of crude oil-based liquid fuels. Some EU countries and others like China and India are rapidly developing bioenergy strategies. Brock said of all the other bioenergy crops, consultants who have been preparing the roadmap have found Jatropha curcas, a plant growing locally as well as in other parts of Africa, South America and India, to be the most viable for Namibia.

Assuming that the targeted area of 63 000 hectares is grown by 2013, this would translate into an industry that contributes 0.5 percent of GDP. Namibia could also earn around N$4.5 million (€517,000) through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which could be raised by commissioning 12 biodiesel generators of 1MW capacity, each requiring about 2 million litres of fuel per year. "In total, 24 million litres of Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME) produced from 24 000 hectares of Jatropha plantings replace the equivalent of 61 000 tonnes of fossil fuel-based carbon emissions," says the draft report. Jatropha takes three years to start yielding cash flows.

New Era (Windhoek), via AllAfrica: Namibia: Replacing Imported Fuels - August 16, 2006

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