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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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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Turning pest into profit: water hyacinth biogas project in India

Earlier we noted that one of the world's most damaging weeds, the water hyacinth, holds a lot of potential as a bioenergy feedstock, especially in the tropics where the invasive species with its incredible biomass productivity (17 tonnes per hectare per day, doubling its biomass each week) untiringly colonizes backwaters, rivers, tributaries, lakes and ponds, where it absorbs a large quantity of nitrogen, phosphorus and nutrients from water. It affects inland navigation and poses serious threats to fishing, irrigation and the drinking water supplies of millions of people.

Now the Kottappuram Integrated Development Society (KIDS) of India which promotes 'bottom-up' environmental and bioenergy services for thousands of poor people, is taking on its most challenging project to date: using the hyacinth as a major resource to enhance access to energy, drinking water and mobility. With the support of the India-Canada Environment Facility (ICEF), KIDS will implement the Water Hyacinth Project through "self-help groups" (an approach often found in India, whereby villagers teach each other how to implement projects).

Organic products instead of plastics
"The project will provide livelihood for poor rural women. It is expected to become a model for eco-restoration of water bodies infested with water hyacinth," KIDS Director Fr Johnson Panketh says [G-cache]. The local bodies and the government spent a major portion of their revenue on de-weeding water hyacinth. But according to KIDS, they failed miserably in their mission as the weed spreads incredibly fast. Under these circumstances, the research wing of KIDS explored the possibility of converting the water hyacinth's fibres as a raw material to make value-added products like bags, purses, baskets and containers.

“The project will be instrumental in ensuring cleaner water bodies. It will also reduce the cost of de-weeding and serve as an alternative for plastic products. It will go a long way in influencing policy makers to formulate effective and profitable management of inland water resources infested with water hyacinth,” said Fr Jobby Kallarackal, Assistant Director, KIDS. Training would be given to 10 self-help groups for skill upgrading and design development of water hyacinth handicraft. Awareness programmes will also be held at various villages, said Sunny George, project director.

Organic fertilizer and biogas
KIDS also found additional advantage in the project by making high-quality vermi compost and vermi water which can be used as fertiliser, Fr Panketh said.
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At a two-day state-level dissemination workshop entitled "Water hyacinth - A menace turned into resource" on the KIDS' campus at Kottappuram, Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran, who was the chief guest at the function, said that the Water Hyacinth Project had a futuristic vision. He inaugurated the biogas plant functioning with water hyacinth as raw material. "It is an innovative natural resource management project which should be replicated in many areas to remove the menace while making effective utilisation of the resource potential for a livelihood", said Satyanarayana, Director of ICEF.

Water hyacinth biogas projects would be very beneficial in Central Africa, where the weed poses great damage to the livelihoods of many people.

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