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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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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Swedish group to build 550,000 ton biomass pellet plant in Florida for exports to Europe

Green Circle BioEnergy, a Panama City-based subsidiary of Swedish corporation JCE Group AB, has announced [*.pdf] it is investing €77/US$100 million in what will be the world's largest biomass pellet complex, in Jackson County, Florida.

The facility will comprise a pelletiser capable of producing 550,000 tons of biofuel pellets per year, a 35,000 ton dry bulk warehouse to store them and additional logistical infrastructures, on a 225-acre parcel located 1 mile south of Interstate 10, along the Bay Line Railroad and U.S. 231. Company President and CEO Olaf Roed said [*cache] groundbreaking at the site would begin at the end of the month. He said the plant's main equipment is already on order, with plans to complete the facility in the fourth quarter of 2007.

A major portion of global CO2 emissions is generated from coal fired power plants. Energy pellets made from wood fiber is a CO2 neutral product, and does not upset the planet’s carbon balance when burned. Co-firing power plants with energy wood pellets (mixed into the coal), thus contributes to improve the imbalanced fossil based carbon situation in the planet’s atmosphere.

Pellets can be made from any type of solid biomass: from forestry residues (wood chips, sawdust), agricultural residues (straw, stalks) or from dedicated crops. Earlier we reported on how researchers have found that the energy balance of grass-based fuel pellets used to generate electricity which is then used to power electric cars, is far better than that of first generation liquid biofuels (earlier post).

Exports to Europe
Pellets produced at the plant will be shipped to Europe for use as fuel in power plants, where they will be co-fired with coal. The European Union's push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has ratcheted up demand for cleaner-burning products like wood pellets. Roed said high demand, plus an anticipated future domestic market for the pellets, means Green Circle would like to build more facilities.

Earlier this week a company in South Africa announced it had started building a 120,000 ton biomass pellet plant in Port Elizabeth, also aimed for exports to Europe. Until now, it held the title of world's largest (earlier post).

Green Circle BioEnergy chose the site in Florida after also considering Houston County, Alabama, as a possible location. Bill Stanton, executive director of the Jackson County Development Council, described the project as the largest wood pellet plant in the world, with an expected production capacity of 550,000 tons annually. Currently, some 250 producers worldwide manufacture around 4 million tons of the carbon neutral fuel.

550,000 tons of biomass is roughly 1.6 million barrels of oil equivalent:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::


Jobs and 'rollover effect'
Stanton said the plant would create 51 new jobs in the area, ranging from engineers to wood procurers, with an average salary of $33,293 plus benefits. He said that dollar figure represents 150 percent versus the average salary in Jackson County.

Indirectly, the plant is expected to create an additional 150 jobs in Jackson and surrounding counties for the gathering and transportation of wood fiber needed for pellet production.

'This will truly have a regionwide impact in terms of employment,' Stanton said.

The pellet plant's arrival will be a huge benefit to the community, confirmed Chipola Workforce Development Board Executive Director Richard Williams, particularly an area with minimal unemployment but also low wages.

Williams said the Green Circle plant will further help Jackson County diversify its economy and provides an incentive for younger people to stay in the community.

He said the plant would also provide a 'rollover' effect, giving an example of jobs created by Green Circle generating dollars from transactions such as truck drivers purchasing fuel for their vehicles. 'The rollover for an industry like this is huge,' he said.

Jackson County Commissioner Willie Spires said all the comments he received about the project had been optimistic, particularly from the Cottondale area.

Spires said water and sewer infrastructure put in at the I-10 interchange near Cottondale had been installed to promote business growth in the county. He described the infrastructure as being a seemingly 'losing proposition' until Green Circle's announcement.

With the pellet plant comes the opportunity to bring more industries and businesses to Jackson County, as well as replace some lost jobs, Spires said. Jackson County has plenty of raw wood products to feed the plant, Spires said, as do surrounding counties. 'Who knows, we may be competing for another plant in the area years from now,' Spires said.

Green Circle secured a $1.02 million Florida Office of Tourism, Trade, and Economic Development Road Fund Grant on Wednesday, something Stanton said had been a key holdup to closing the deal.

County and state incentives
Roed said incentives and grants offered by the county and state played a major part in Green Circle's decision. He said there were advantages to building in both Florida and Alabama, and ruled out the additional distance from Houston County to Port Panama City as a major factor in the final decision.

In October, Green Circle and Port Panama City agreed to a 10-year deal, with the port agreeing to build a bulk warehouse to house the pellets before their shipment to Europe.

Port Executive Director Wayne Stubbs reiterated Monday the port is very committed to the $8.5 million warehouse and said the Port Authority expects to see bids this month.

He said he hopes the construction on the bulk warehouse, with a capacity to store 35,000 tons of wood pellets, will begin in April and be finished by Dec. 1.

Coley said she thought the whole state would be watching the progress of the plant. Stubbs echoed her comments.

'What I really expect, once the plant is under construction, is that the project will get a lot of attention,' Stubbs said.

He added that the bulk warehouse's construction will result in the creation of six or seven additional full-time jobs at Panama City's port for warehouse management, as well as more shiploading jobs.

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