Virent Energy Systems, Inc. announced today that it has closed a US$21 million second round of venture financing. Investor interest in Virent was driven in large part by the Company’s continued development of its innovative BioForming process beyond its traditional hydrogen and fuel gas applications and toward the production of bio-based gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels.
Virent Energy Systems - September 6, 2007.
The U.S. National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) announces that 31 models of motor vehicles will be offered in the U.S. with an E85 capable engine in 2008. Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan and Mercedes Benz will all offer flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) in the coming year. The NEVC expects 750,000 such FFVs will be produced in 2008.
National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition - September 5, 2007.
GreenHunter BioFuels, Inc., has begun commercial operations with the start-up of a 1,500 barrel per day methanol distillation system. Methanol is an alcohol used to transesterify vegetable oils into biodiesel. The methanol production facility is a key element of GreenHunter's 105 million gallon per year biodiesel refinery, the largest in the U.S., slated for initial operations during the first quarter of 2008.
PRNewswire - September 5, 2007.
GreenHunter BioFuels, Inc., has begun commercial operations with the start-up of a 1,500 barrel per day methanol distillation system. Methanol is an alcohol used to transesterify vegetable oils into biodiesel. The methanol production facility is a key element of GreenHunter's 105 million gallon per year biodiesel refinery, the largest in the U.S., slated for initial operations during the first quarter of 2008.
PRNewswire - September 5, 2007.
Spanish renewables group Abengoa released its results for the first half of 2007 financial year in which its consolidated sales were €1,393.6 million, which is a 27.9 percent increase on the previous year. Earnings after tax were €54.9 million, an 18.6 percent increase on the previous year's figure of 46.3 million euro. Abengoa is active in the bioenergy, solar and environmental services sector.
Abengoa - September 4, 2007.
Canadian hydro power developer Run of River Power Inc. has reached an agreement to buy privately owned Western Biomass Power Corp. in a $2.2 million share swap deal that could help finance development of new green sources of electricity in British Columbia.
The Canadian Press - September 4, 2007.
As of Sept. 1, a biodiesel blending mandate has come into force in the Czech Republic, requiring diesel suppliers to mix 2 per cent biodiesel into the fuel. The same rule will be obligatory for gasoline starting next year. In 2009 the biofuel ratio will grow to 3.5 percent in gasoline and 4.5 percent in diesel oil.
CBW - September 3, 2007.
Budapest's first biofuel station opens on Monday near the Pesterzsébet (District XX) Tesco hypermarket. This is the third station selling the E85 fuel containing bioethanol in Hungary, as two other stations are encouraging eco-friendly driving in Bábolna and Győr.
Caboodle - September 3, 2007.
Canadian forest products company Tembec announced that it has completed the acquisition of the assets of Chapleau Cogeneration Limited located in Chapleau, Ontario. The transaction includes a biomass fired boiler and steam turbine with an installed capacity of 7.2 megawatts. Consideration for the assets consists of a series of future annual payments to 2022, with a present value of approximately $1 million.
Tembec - September 1, 2007.
Innovative internet and cable/satellite channel CurrentTV is producing a documentary on Brazil's biofuel revolution. Biopact collegues and friends Marcelo Coelho (EthanolBrasil Blog), Henrique Oliveira (Ethablog) and Marcelo Alioti (E-Machine) provided consulting on the technical, economic, environmental and social aspects of Brazil's energy transformation.
ProCana - August 31, 2007.
Oil major BP Plc and Associated British Foods Plc won competition clearance from the European Commission on to build a plant to make transport fuel from wheat in Hull, northeast England. U.S. chemical company DuPont is also involved.
Reuters UK - August 31, 2007.
The government of the Indian state of Orissa announced its policy for biofuel production which includes a slew of incentives as well as measures to promote the establishment of energy plantations. The state aims to bring 600,000 hectares of barren and fallow land under Jatropha and Karanj. At least 2 million hectares degraded land are available in the State. The new policy's other objectives are to provide a platform for investors and entrepreneurs, market linkages and quality control measures.
Newindpress - August 29, 2007.
Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras said today it expects to reach large scale cellulosic ethanol production in 2015, with the first plant entering operations as early as 2011. Lignocellulosic biomass is the most abundant biological material on the planet, making up the bulk of the structure of wood and plants. In a first phase, Petrobras intends to use bagasse as a feedstock.
Reuters / MacauHub- August 29, 2007.
Seattle based Propel Biofuels, is announcing a $4.75 million first round of capital from @Ventures and Nth Power. The money will be used to help Propel set up and manage biodiesel fueling stations.
BusinessWire - August 29, 2007.
BioEnergy International, a science and technology company committed to developing biorefineries to produce fuels and specialty chemicals from renewable resources, announced today the closing of a major US$61.6 million investment that will provide funding for the Company’s three strategic initiatives: generating secure cash flow from its conventional ethanol platform, product diversification through the introduction of novel biocatalysts for the manufacture of green chemicals and biopolymers and the integration of its cellulose technology.
BusinessWire - August 28, 2007.
German company Verbio Vereinigte BioEnergie, the biggest biofuels producer in Europe, says it is considering plans to invest up to €100/US$136.5 million in a biofuel production facility in Bulgaria. The company wants the new facility to be located close to a port and Bulgaria's city of Varna on the Black Sea is one of the options under consideration. If Verbio goes through with the plan, it would produce both biodiesel and bioethanol, making Bulgaria a major source of biofuels in southeastern Europe. Verbi currently produces around 700,000 tonnes of biofuels per year.
Sofia News Agency - August 27, 2007.
Czech brown-coal-fired power plant Elektrárna Tisová (ETI), a unit of the energy producer ČEZ, could co-fire up to 40,000 tons of biomass this year, the biggest amount in the company’s history, said Martin Sobotka, ČEZ spokesman for West Bohemia. ETI burned more than 19,000 tons of biomass in the first half of 2007. The company’s plan reckoned with biomass consumption of up to 35,000 tons a year.
Czech Business Weekly - August 27, 2007.
PetroSun, Incorporated announced recently that it has formed PetroSun BioFuels Mexico to establish algae-to-biofuel operations in the State of Sonora, Mexico. PetroSun BioFuels Mexico will enter into joint venture agreements to develop algae cultivation farms and extraction plants in Sonora and southern Arizona that will produce algal oil, algae biomass products and excess electricity for the Mexican and U.S. markets.
MarketWire - August 27, 2007.
China's Yunnan Province hopes to reach an annual output of 2 million tons (approx. 417 million gallons) of fuel ethanol by 2010, according to the province's fuel ethanol industry development plan released recently by the Yunnan Economic and Trade Commission, state media report.
Interfax China - August 23, 2007.
Seven companies have teamed up to create Kazakhstan's first Biofuel Association. Its aim is to integrate interested parties for creating favorable conditions to have the country’s biofuel industry developed. An initiator and coordinator of the Association is the National Holding KazAgro, the Agriculture Ministry’s press service informs.
KazInform - August 23, 2007.
Canadian forest products company Tembec today announced that it has completed the acquisition of the assets of Chapleau Cogeneration Limited located in Chapleau, Ontario. The transaction closed on August 15 and includes a biomass fired boiler and steam turbine with an installed capacity of 7.2 megawatts. Consideration for the assets consists of a series of future annual payments to 2022, with a present value of approximately $1 million.
Newswire Canada - August 22, 2007.
Taiwan's representative to Brazil, Chou Shu-yeh, is urging Taiwan's government and private enterprises to invest in Brazil's biomass energy sector. Chou was speaking at a workshop on global investment and trade opportunities in Taipei.
RTi - August 22, 2007.
An algae-to-biofuels startup by the name of Inventure Chemical has raised about $1.5 million to continue its development of a chemical process that turns algae into biodiesel and ethanol. One of the biggest backers of the company is Imperium Renewables, a biodiesel producer.
Seattle Post Intelligencer - August 22, 2007.
The government of India's Karnataka state has approved the blending of six million litres of ethanol with diesel for use as fuel in State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) vehicles.
Automotive World - August 21, 2007.
VeraSun Energy Corporation, one of America's largest ethanol producers, announced that it closed on its acquisition with ASAlliances Biofuels, LLC for three ethanol plants with a combined annual production capacity of approximately 330 million gallons (1.25 billion liters) per year.
VeraSun - August 21, 2007.
Fujitsu develops a biodegradable laptop chassis from corn-starch bioplastic. The material reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 15% compared to a chassis made from petroleum-based plastics.
CNET Asia - August 20, 2007.
India's Rana Sugars Ltd has decided to set up a new plant for producing ethanol in Uttar Pradesh with an estimated investment of €9 to 10.9 (US$12.2 to 14.7). The facility will have a capacity of 180,000 liters per year and will generate, besides ethanol, 26MW of carbon-neutral power from bagasse.
Economic Times India - August 20, 2007.
Prominent pro-democracy activists staged a rare protest in Myanmar's biggest city Sunday, marching against a massive recent fuel price hike. "We are staging this performance to reflect the hardship our people are facing due to the government's fuel price hike," said Min Ko Naing, a leader of the 88 Generation Students' Group. Myanmar's ruling military junta imposed a surprise 100 percent hike on fuel at state-owned gas stations on Wednesday. The move was followed by increases in bus fares and commodity prices.
The Star - August 19, 2007.
Canada's Cavendish Farms, one of the country's largest food processing companies is to build a biogas plant to recycle spent cooking oils, starch and sludge from its waste-water plant to fuel its potato processing operation. Use of the carbon-neutral biofuel will limit the amount of bunker C fuel oil currently in use by the company. The plant, expected to be ready for operation by next fall, has received a $14-million loan from the Province of Prince Edward Island.
CBC - August 18, 2007.
Sorghums are receiving a lot of interest from the biofuel research community, because the grass species can be grown with relatively low inputs and yields high amounts of biomass and fermentable sugars. Efforts are underway to map sorghum's genome and several crop improvement breakthroughs have been made. One group of scientists recently developed a drought-tolerant sorghum, whereas another found a way to engineer this widely grown crop in such a way that it becomes tolerant to aluminum toxicity, a major achievement (previous post). But high biomass yields are only one part of the complexity of producing competitive biofuels.
Members of the OSU Biofuels Team harvest sweet sorghum to test the feasibility of in-field processing. Credit: Todd Johnson.
Oklahoma State University is investigating other aspects of utilizing the crop as a feedstock for ethanol. Researchers there are taking a decentralised and localized approach, with the aim of making possible the effective production of ethanol in the farmer’s own field. Sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench), one of the many varieties, can be grown throughout temperate climate zones of the United States, including Oklahoma. It provides high biomass yield with low irrigation and fertilizer requirements. Corn ethanol, in contrast, requires significant amounts of water for growing and processing.
Best of all, producing ethanol from sweet sorghum is relatively easy, says Danielle Bellmer, biosystems engineer with the OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources’ Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center. “Just press the juice from the stalk, add yeast, allow fermentation to take place and you have ethanol,” Bellmer said. “Unfortunately, the simple sugars derived from sweet sorghum have to be fermented immediately.” Throw in the expense of constructing and operating a central processing facility that would only operate the four to five months of the year when sorghum would be available in Oklahoma and the challenge multiplies.
The beginnings of a possible solution presented itself when entrepreneur Lee McClune, president of Sorganol Production Co. Inc., approached FAPC scientists seeking their assistance in testing his newly designed field harvester capable of pressing and collecting juice from sweet sorghum. His proposed Sorganol process involved using the harvester, large storage bladders for fermentation and a mobile distillation unit for ethanol purification. OSU’s initial involvement in the project was to look at the feasibility of fermenting the juice in the field: energy :: sustainability ::ethanol :: biomass :: bioenergy :: biofuels :: sorghum :: fermentation :: decentralisation :: “We’re examining such things as juice extraction efficiency, whether or not pH (acidity) or nutrient adjustment of the juice is needed and various environmental factors,” Bellmer said.
The goal is to make production of ethanol from sweet sorghum economically viable by using an in-field processing system that minimizes transportation costs and capital investment.
Equipment such as the harvester and other technology could be owned individually or cooperatively with a number of producers sharing and possibly helping one another process ethanol from sweet sorghum.
In Oklahoma, the potential processing scenario might look like this: Plant sweet sorghum around mid-April, and then stagger plantings for two to three months. This would provide a harvest window of August through November.
“Ethanol yields in Oklahoma could range from 300 gallons to 600 gallons per acre, depending on biomass yield, sugar content and juice expression efficiency,” said Chad Godsey, biofuels team member and OSU Cooperative Extension cropping systems specialist with the department of plant and soil sciences.
Godsey said the team is working to determine the maximum possible harvest window for sweet sorghum in Oklahoma. “Obviously, the longer the harvest window, the more ethanol state farmers will be able to produce,” he said.
OSU Biofuels Team researchers also are studying environmental parameters that may affect the feasibility of on-farm fermentation. A producer must be able to ferment the juice in the field during Oklahoma’s harvest season for sweet sorghum, which occurs in the fall when temperature extremes are highly possible. “Temperature can speed up, slow down or derail the fermentation process,” Godsey said.
Weather data for Oklahoma indicate an average low temperature of about 44 degrees Fahrenheit and an average high temperature of approximately 98 degrees Fahrenheit during the August-through-October period over the past 10 years.
Six test plot sites are maintained at Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station facilities across the state, allowing OSU scientists to conduct research on sweet sorghum under local conditions.
“We would like to do with sweet sorghum what the Brazilians have done with sugar cane: In Brazil, sugar cane ethanol provides a large percentage of their fuel needs,” Bellmer said.
The idea of using sweet sorghum for commercial ethanol production is not new. The reason sweet sorghum is not as popular as corn in terms of being a source of ethanol in the United States has been the need to ferment its simple sugars immediately and the high costs associated with a central processing plant that is operated only seasonally.
“By determining a process by which agricultural producers can create ethanol in the field from sweet sorghum, that barrier is removed,” Bellmer said. “Producers will then have a much higher value product to sell.”
The Volvo Group today released results of an extensive analysis of seven different biofuels for use in demonstration trucks that run 100% on the renewable fuel without emitting any environmentally harmful carbon dioxide. The carbon-neutral trucks were equipped with diesel engines that have been modified to operate with the following renewable liquid and gaseous fuels: biodiesel, biogas combined with biodiesel, ethanol/methanol, DME, synthetic diesel and hydrogen gas combined with biogas.
The full 'well-to-wheel' efficiency and sustainability of the alternative fuels was assessed using seven criteria and scored on a five point scale (table, click to enlarge) .
1. Impact on the climate: carbon dioxide emissions throughout the entire chain according to the well to wheel principle, which includes growing the raw material including fertilizer; harvesting the raw material; transporting it to the plant where the fuel is produced; production of the fuel; distribution to refuelling stations; the use of the fuel in vehicles. Calculations are based on fully renewable raw materials, but fossil fuels are currently used for cultivation or production. In future, it will be possible to replace fossil energy with renewable energy, however, with a lower level of efficiency as a result. Results: five of the alternatives — synthetic diesel, dimethyl ether, methanol, biogas and hydrogen plus biogas — reduce the impact on the climate by more than 90%. In the case of methanol, gasification of black liquor is required in order to get the highest rating. For biogas and hydrogen gas combined with biogas, gasification of biomass is required in order to receive the highest rating. A lower rating applies if the biogas is produced through anaerobic digestion of household waste. Results for ethanol vary between 0 and 75 percent reduction depending on the production method. Biodiesel had the lowest ranking after ethanol.
2. Energy efficiency: was rated on a falling scale and is expressed in percent. The percentage indicates the amount of energy that reaches the vehicle’s driven wheels. By way of comparison, it can also be mentioned that with the fossil diesel fuel used today, we achieve approximately a 35 percent total level of efficiency. This relatively high level of efficiency is reached because raw oil can be considered to be a “semi-finished product” and the production of diesel is thereby very energy-efficient. The results may vary for the same fuel, depending on the production process used. Results: DME and methanol receive the highest rating, on the condition that they are produced from black liquor from the wood pulp industry. The highest rating for synthetic diesel also requires the gasification of black liquor. The rating for biogas, biogas+biodiesel and hydrogen gas+biogas apply to production with gasification and anaerobic digestion. The production of biogas via gasification of black liquor is not included in the summary. The low rating for ethanol is due to the high energy consumption for cultivation and fuel production.
3. Land use efficiency: the yield per hectare for each crop has been calculated using information about average yields from good quality land. The rating scale indicates how far a heavy truck can travel per year and hectare. Growing conditions apply to Swedish conditions. Cultivation in other places leads to different results but the relationships are more or less the same. The researchers reduced the amount of fuel produced by the amount of fuel/energy required for harvesting, production, transport, etc. The results may vary for the same fuel, depending on the production process used. Results: DME and methanol, combined with black liquor gasification get the highest rating. These fuels have high harvest yields, require little use of fossil fuels, and have high energy efficiency. Synthetic diesel has high harvest yields, requires little use of fossil fuels, but has lower energy efficiency and limited selectivity in production. Ethanol gets a low rating due to limited energy efficiency and in certain cases the need for a great deal of fossil energy. Biodiesel gets the lowest rating due to low average harvest yields and the use of a great deal of fossil energy. Biogas production via gasification of black liquor is not included in the summary. Biogas from anaerobic digestion scored high.
4. Fuel potential: the availability of raw material and the choice ofproduction process determine the amount of fuel that can be produced. Certain processes can use many different feedstocks and complete crops. Others are limited to parts of the contents of individual crops. A general problem with feedstocks from agricultural products is that they compete with food production. According to a study conducted by EUCAR/CONCAWE/JRC, the potential availability of waste wood, farmed wood, and straw in the EU in 2012 is approximately 700 TWh (Terawatt hours) per year while the potential for sunflower oil and rapeseed oil is estimated at approximately 80 TWh per year. The amount of fossil fuel that can be replaced by biomass varies depending on the level of efficiency in the fuel’s production process and in its final use. Biomass potential in the EU in 2012 is not adequate to replace fossil fuels. The import of biomass from better areas from a cultivation perspective may solve this problem: energy :: sustainability ::carbon dioxide :: climate change :: biofuels :: ethanol :: biodiesel :: DME :: methanol :: Fischer-Tropsch :: biogas :: hydrogen :: Results: 350 to 420 TWh are equivalent to approximately 10-12% of the expected demand for petrol and diesel in the EU in 2015. DME, methanol, biogas, biogas+biodiesel and hydrogen gas+biogas get the highest rating. Synthetic diesel, DME, methanol, and biogas can all be produced from entire crops, wood feedstocks, or other biological material. However, synthetic diesel has a lower level of efficiency and provides a lower proportion of fuel that can be used in vehicles. With respect to biogas, waste material and sewage can be used in production. Ethanol can be produced from a number of feedstocks, including waste wood or other biological materials that contain cellulose, although the level of efficiency is relatively low. Biodiesel, which has received the lowest rating, is produced from vegetable oils such as rapeseed oil and sunflower oil. Availability is limited since rapeseed can only be grown on the same land every fourth year or every sixth year. Furthermore, only the oil in the seeds can be utilised for fuel.
5. Vehicle adaptation: a collective assessment was provided, explaining how technically complicated it is to adapt vehicles to the new fuels. This criterion also includes the fuel’s effect on the vehicle’s efficiency in different ways, such as maximal engine performance, weight increase, and range between refuelling. The last parameter mentioned can, for example, affect the vehicle’s load capacity. The technical complexity includes factors that require increased space for the fuel and the need for new and more expensive components. It also encompasses the need for technology to meet future emissions requirements. For example, certain fuels require more advanced emission controls than others. Results : biodiesel and synthetic diesel get the highest rating. Vehicles that are run on these fuels are essentially comparable to conventional diesel vehicles. However, biodiesel requires increased service and has higher nitric oxide emissions. The lower energy content in DME results in a 50-percent reduction in range but it is still possible to use the fuel for long-haul transport. DME requires a unique and advanced fuel system, but also offers savings in terms of costs and weight with regard to exhaust noise damping and treatment of exhaust gases. Ethanol’s lower energy content results in a 30-percent shorter range per tank of fuel. Biogas+biodiesel offers maximal engine performance, but range is reduced by half if the gas is in liquid form. This also requires two separate fuel systems. Biogas and hydrogen gas+biogas require an Otto engine, which limits power output. The compressed gas has a low energy density, which limits range to approximately 20 percent. A complex tank system results in higher costs and increased weight.
6. Fuel costs: the assessment includes the costs of raw materials, fixed and variable costs in the production plants, and costs for transport, infrastructure, and energy consumption in the chain of distribution. Generally speaking, it is difficult to calculate future costs due to fluctuations in the price of raw materials and rapid technological development. Production costs for the fuel often comprise only a small part of the price to the end-user due to taxes, etc. The researchers compared costs here with conventional diesel fuel, exclusive of taxes, at a raw oil price of USD 70 a barrel. The comparison was made per litre of diesel equivalent. In other words, more than a litre of certain fuels is needed to get the same energy content as a litre of diesel. The results may vary for the same fuel, depending on the feedstock used. Results: DME and methanol get the highest rating. When produced from black liquor, they are already competitive today in terms of costs. Production via gasification of forest products or farmed wood is more expensive. The cost of biodiesel is some 60 percent higher than for conventional diesel. With respect to biogas and hydrogen gas+biogas, the biogas based on waste materials leads to the most favourable results, primarily due to low feedstock costs. For biogas+biodiesel, biogas in liquid form is approximately 25 percent more expensive than compressed biogas. Biogas production through gasification of black liquor is not included in the summary. Synthetic diesel is the most expensive fuel because of high investment costs and the relatively low energy efficiency in production. Ethanol is generally expensive to produce. Production from forest products is the most expensive process.
7. Fuel infrastructure: the infrastructure is often considered to be the greatest challenge for an alternative fuel. It is an important criterion in terms of how quickly and easily a new fuel can be introduced and integrated into the existing infrastructure. However, it should be kept in mind that the infrastructure for conventional fuels also requires major investments. In the long term, the infrastructure is a secondary issue. This criterion also takes into account the safety and environmental aspects of handling the fuel in the infrastructure. Ratings: synthetic diesel gets the highest rating. Synthetic diesel can easily be mixed with traditional diesel without jeopardising established standards and specifications. Biodiesel requires certain measures due to its lower storage stability. Methanol and ethanol require corrosion-resistant material, increased fire protection measures, and a separate infrastructure if they are used as pure fuel. Methanol should be handled in completely closed systems due to a high health risk. DME is a gas at room temperature and atmospheric pressure. In a vehicle, it is a liquid fuel at a pressure of 5 bar. The infrastructure for DME is similar to the one that has been established for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). DME is heavier than air and can accumulate in the event of leakage, resulting in a fire hazard. Biogas is handled at high pressure (200 bar) and requires the same infrastructure as the current system for natural gas. The infrastructure for hydrogen gas is the most expensive and complicated one since hydrogen gas requires even higher pressure than biogas.
The seven Volvo FM trucks were equipped with Volvo’s own 9-liter engines that have been specially modified by the group’s engineers to illustrate the possibilities of carbon-dioxide-free transport:
The diesel engine is an extremely efficient energy converter that is perfectly suited to many different renewable fuels, liquid or gaseous. With our know-how in engine technology and our large volumes, we can manufacture engines for several different renewable fuels, and also create possibilities for carbon-dioxide-free transports in such other product areas as buses, construction equipment and boats. - Jan-Eric Sundgren, member of Volvo Group Management and Senior Vice President, Public and Environmental Affairs
Climate change, transport and responsibility According to the widely publicized Stern report, approximately 14 percent of total global carbon-dioxide emissions will come from the transport sector, with road transport accounting for a total of 10 percent. However, there is no information on the percentage of these emission levels that in turn originate from cargo transport. A calculation based on European conditions and statistics, whereby passenger cars represent 60% of carbon-dioxide emissions and cargo transport for the remaining 40%, indicates that cargo transport will account for about 4-5% of total global carbon-dioxide emissions.
As one of the world’s largest manufacturers of heavy trucks, diesel engines and buses, the Volvo Group is part of the climate problem, says Leif Johansson, CEO of Volvo. But environmental issues are one of the areas which we have assigned the very highest priority, and based on our resources and knowledge, we both can and will be part of the solution.The seven trucks exhibited in Stockholm can be operated on the same number of different renewable fuels and/or combinations of fuels. Since all of these fuels are produced from renewable raw materials, they provide no carbon-dioxide contributions to the ecosystem when combusted and, accordingly, do not impact the environment.
With these vehicles, we have shown that Volvo is ready, that we possess the technology and the resources for carbon-dioxide-free transport, but we cannot do this alone. We also require large-scale production of renewable fuels and putting such production in operation requires extensive investments in research and development, and also well-defined, common guidelines from authorities in as many countries as possible. - Leif Johansson, CEO of the Volvo Group
Promising results from gasification Despite the current shortage of both biomass for the production of renewable fuels, and finished fuels, the Volvo Group does not view carbon-dioxide-free transport as a utopian idea. One of the reasons for this is the second generation of renewable fuels that are produced through gasification and that generate both large volumes and a greater number of fuels to choose between.
“Gasification is a promising line that may lead to a significantly larger substitution than today’s technology,” says Leif Johansson. “Our own history has taught us that much of what we once thought impossible we have since been able to solve a few years later. This can be applied to such important areas as energy efficiency and exhaust emission control. I am an optimist and believe in a similar trend in carbon-dioxide-free transport.” References: Volvo renewable fuels.
Collective overview of the ratings for seven biofuels.
The UK's Renewable Energy Centre today released its assessment of responses to the King Review of Low Carbon Cars’ call for evidence. It supports the findings of the Biomethane for Transport organisation which found that biogas is the cleanest and most efficient of all transport fuels. Biomethane is carbon-negative, can be readily used in CNG cars and makes use of a wide variety of biomass feedstocks.
In the continuing fight against climate change there have been an increasing number of targets set in the UK and internationally for varying types of energy use and generation. One of the most important areas in which the UK needs to reduce carbon emissions is the transport sector, but it has also proven to be one of the most expensive areas in which to make any significant technological development and improvements.
The King Review of Low Carbon Cars, announced in June as part of the country's 2007 Budget, was intended to build on the progress made in recent reports including the 2007 Energy White paper and examine the vehicle and fuel technologies which over the next 25 years could help to decarbonise road transport, particularly cars. Following the publication of the report issued by HM Treasury and led by professor Julia King of Aston University, Gordon Brown issued a call for evidence from all interested parties on how best to reduce emissions from road transport.
The Renewable Energy Centre commented that the report was long overdue, as whilst emissions from other sectors, such as the use of domestic energy, has fallen or become more stable, the transport sector's emissions continue to increase and currently accounts for over 20% of the UK’s total CO2 output. The Cambridge report produced this year, estimates that the UK will be unable to meet the reduction targets set following the Kyoto agreement in 1997.
The Biomethane for Transport organisation responded to the King Review and stated that the one of the most economically viable directions to take would be vehicle and fuel improvements that can be adapted to existing internal combustion engines.
The Renewable Energy Centre supported the organisation’s findings that the use of biogas for transport had many advantages over many of the other technologies proposed. Biomethane has the lowest gas emissions of any biofuel and the capture, upgrading and burning of the gas actually produces fewer emissions than if the organic waste used was left to decompose naturally. The organisation confirms findings from previous research as well as results from longstanding trials in continental Europe.
Negative Carbon Balance – Biomethane produced from the decomposition of organic waste (e.g. anaerobic digestion) actually has a negative ‘well to wheel’ carbon balance. This is due to the fact that capturing, upgrading and burning the gas prevents methane from being released into the atmosphere when waste naturally decomposes, and also because methane is an inherently low carbon fuel. The ‘Biogas as a Road Transport Fuel’ report estimated that using biomethane as a fuel in the HGV and LGV fleets could provide a saving of up to 9.1 million tonnes of CO2 per year.
Low Emissions of Local Pollutants – Methane fuelled vehicles have extremely low emissions of local pollutants, including NOx and particulates when compared to modern petrol and diesel vehicles. Substitution of diesel and petrol vehicles with biomethane (and also fossil methane) would have a beneficial effect on air quality.
Low Noise – Methane fuelled engines run more quietly than petrol and diesel, vehicles, particularly so when compared with the latter. This can have a beneficial effect on urban environmental quality, and also have economic benefits where vehicle movements are restricted because of noise limitations.
Link With Waste Management – Many local authorities are either developing, or planning to develop, anaerobic digestion facilities as an alternative pathway to landfill for organic waste. Vehicles are one of the best ways of using the biomethane produced from these plants. By tying the two areas together local authorities are provided with a disposal pathway for organic waste, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill, and vehicles are provided with fuel. Costs are reduced for all parties through a joint approach.
Compatibility With Existing ICE Technology – Methane fuel is used in modified internal combustion engines, therefore the fuel is able to take advantage of improvements in this technology. Using biomethane alongside other technologies can therefore provide significant co-benefits, e.g. a hybrid running on biomethane would benefit from the inherent carbon reductions produced by both technologies
When biomethane is produced from dedicated energy crops, it can yield more energy than any other current type of biofuel. The green gas can be made from a very wide range of biomass crops as well as from abundant crop residues. Scientists have found [*.pdf] that for temperate grass species, one hectare can yield between 2,900–5,400 cubic meters of methane per year, enough to fuel a passenger car for 40,000 to 60,000 kilometers (one acre of crops can power a car for 10,000 to 15,000 miles).
Moreover, biogas can be made even cleaner by coupling its production to dedicated carbon storage technologies and sites, independently from power stations. By capturing CO2 from biogas before it is combusted - the least costly carbon capture strategy for any fuel source - and sequestring the greenhouse gas under ground, the fuel becomes thoroughly carbon-negative. The use of this cleaned biogas, upgraded to biomethane, takes CO2 emissions from the past out of the atmosphere (more here and here). Only biofuels allow the creation of such carbon-negative energy systems - all other energy concepts are either carbon-neutral or carbon-positive: climate change :: greenhouse gas emissons :: CNG :: energy :: sustainability :: biomass :: bioenergy :: biofuels :: carbon-negative :: carbon capture and storage :: waste :: energy crops :: biogas :: biomethane :: The Biomethane for Transport organisation also suggests a way in which organic waste can be used more productively, whereby a waste management plant is linked with anaerobic digestion facilities to make use of the methane gas produced. This would provide a useful solution for organic waste, in turn reducing the amount of waste sent to a landfill and provides vehicles with a source of renewable fuel.
However, some argue that the results of this review will have little impact on the cars driven in the UK in the short term, particularly due to the fact that none of the major car manufacturing operations in the UK are British-owned anymore, and the review will only have limited influence on foreign-owned companies.
Richard Simmons, Founder of The Renewable Energy Centre commented “Biomethane should prove to be a very realistic part of the future alternative to fossil fuels but will only truly reduce the impact we are having on the environment if we realise that it cannot be used in isolation. It is important that we work towards more fuel efficient cars and reduce our often excessive use of vehicles. This is a particularly vital step for all car owners to play their part in reducing fuel emissions”.
Biogas is increasingly being used in Europe, both for electricity generation as for transport. A recent 'Biogas Barometer' report, published by a consortium of renewable energy groups led by France's Observ'ER, cites a 13.6% increase growth in biogas use for primary energy production between 2005 and 2006 in the EU (earlier post).
The total energy potential for biogas in the EU has been the subject of several projections and scenarios, with the most optimistic showing that it can replace all European natural gas imports from Russia by 2020 (more here). Germany recently started looking at opening its main natural gas pipelines to feed in the renewable green gas. And an EU project is assessing the technical feasibility of doing the same on a Europe-wide scale (previous post).
Biogas as a transport fuel offers particularly interesting prospects for the developing world, where oil infrastructures are not yet developed extensively. By relying on locally produced biomethane used in CNG cars, these countries could leapfrog into a clean, secure and green post-oil future. A country like Pakistan showed that converting the automobile fleet to CNG is feasible: in less than two years time, it converted 1 million cars to run on compressed gas (earlier post).
For comprehensive overviews of the latest developments in biogas research, development and applications, please search the Biopact website.
Graph: energy obtained per hectare of energy crops for selected bioconversion processes. Source: L-B- Systemtechnik GmbH Ottobrunn.
Open, convenient access to thorough information will drive new biomass science and technology out of the computer network and into our garages and homes. Scientists with the U.S. Sun Grant Initiative believe this, and today they announced the availability of a new collection of materials designed to speed the effort.
Called BioWeb, the project is an Internet library of peer-reviewed papers and information related to bioenergy and bioproducts. Available to the public, the BioWeb is a continually expanding collection of basic and applied scientific knowledge, with some information about production economics and policy thrown in for perspective.
Scientists, students, and anyone interested in accurate information about biomass conversion and utilization can access the BioWeb. We expect it to be an invaluable resource to investors and researchers interested in the expanding markets related to biomass production and conversion. - Terry Nipp, executive director of the Sun Grant Association
The $400,000 project, which is supported through grants from DOE, DOT and USDA, is a collaborative effort of five regional Sun Grant Centers. Dr. Kelly Tiller, an agricultural economist with the University of Tennessee, coordinates the project.
"We've been testing the Web site throughout the spring and summer, and we're pleased with the positive feedback we've gotten. Site users should find valuable information collected in a format that is easy to use and interactive," Tiller said.
She emphasized that the information on the BioWeb meets the high standards of academic peer review. "All of the information on the site has been reviewed by a body of scientists well versed in their respective disciplines," Tiller said. "A lot of highly regarded researchers have contributed to the BioWeb - 75 strong and growing - from universities and national laboratories. They are working at a feverish pace to add tremendous volumes of credible information to the site. It's expanding daily: energy :: sustainability :: ethanol :: biodiesel :: biobutanol :: biomass :: bioenergy :: biofuels :: bioeconomy :: Project co-director, James Doolittle, a soil scientist at South Dakota State University and Director of the North Central Sun Grant Center, thinks the new resource will have wide appeal among a variety of audiences all interested in this rapidly changing and expanding field. "We look forward to the BioWeb becoming a valuable resource that becomes bookmarked and visited frequently by individuals looking for reliable information on biofuels, bioenergy and bioproducts."
The Sun Grant Initiative involves a network of land grant universities collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy to reduce America �s dependence on petroleum through development of a biobased economy. The idea is to strengthen American agriculture while simultaneously improving rural economies and developing environmentally friendly manufacturing products and technologies.
Authorized by Congress in 2004, the regional Sun Grant Centers include South Dakota State University, Cornell University, Oregon State University, Oklahoma State University and the University of Tennessee. These regional centers emphasize research, higher education, and Extension programs on renewable energy and biobased industries. The national Sun Grant Association coordinates their efforts.
Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras, a global and historic leader in biofuel development, announces [*Portuguese] that it is preparing for the introduction of a new type of biofuel for use in the aviation market.
The company is developing jet fuel called 'Bio QAV' ('Biocombustível misturado ao Querosene de Aviação'), a mixture of biodiesel and kerosene (Jet A-1). Opening a seminar titled "Biodiesel Brazil: Consolidated on Land, Initiated in Marine Transport and Towards Aviation" the president of Petrobras Distribuidora, Graça Foster, said the company's aviation arm (BR Aviation) is working on procedures to adjust its 13 fuel bases which deliver kerosene to Brazil's airports.
The fixed installations (fuel tanks) and supply trucks supplying the 120 airports serviced by the distribution arm of Petrobras will be adapted to accomodate Bio QAV. (Map shows main airports of Brazil, click to enlarge).
Work is now underway to extend and adapt the Quality Assurance System to the new fuel, with technicians, suppliers and staff being trained to understand the new norms and handling procedures for Bio QAV.
Foster said that by the end of 2008 test flights with the bio-jet fuel will be carried out. The president noted that biodiesel is now present in all transport sectors - automotive, rail, maritime, and aviation - as well as in the industrial and power sectors: energy :: sustainability :: biodiesel :: biomass :: bioenergy :: biofuels :: jet fuel :: kerosene :: Brazil :: Biofuels for aviation were originally developed in Brazil, with successful trials going back to the 1980s. In recent years, all major aircraft manufacturers, as well as goverment agencies, research organisations and airlines in different countries, have begun intensifying research into bio-based jet fuels.
Several bioconversion methods are being investigated, ranging from synthetic biofuels based on the Fischer-Tropsch process, to hydrogenated biodiesel (also called 'green diesel' or 'H-Bio').
In Brazil, Tecbio recently started collaborating with Boeing and Nasa to develop bio-kerosene (earlier post). Tecbio is the company founded by Expedito Parente, the father of bio-jet fuel, who in May of this year announced a large scale program to produce aviation biofuels from local resources (babassu palms). The project is explicitly intended to alleviate poverty and will be based on collaboration with farmers' cooperatives who harvest and treat the oil rich nuts of the palm (earlier post).
Petrobras has played a crucial role in making Brazil's ethanol programme a success. The more recently initiated biodiesel program promises to open a second successful front for the country. The state-run oil company developed an innovative process for the production of biodiesel, called H-Bio, which consists of hydrogenating vegetable oils by relying on existing petroleum refinery infratructures.
According to Foster, in only 13 months time, Petrobras Distribuidora has succeeded in setting up biodiesel supply points in the entire territory of Brazil, allowing it to take care of supplying the national biodiesel market from January 2008 onwards, when the B2 obligation (mixture of 2% of biodiesel with diesel) comes into force.
Most biofuel projects based on the cultivation of algae are failing because of high capital costs, fundamental flaws inherent in production systems, and lack of progress in the science behind algae-culture. For this reason, Biopact and scientists remain sceptical of the current potential of the hyped concept (earlier post, and our interview with Dr Krassen Dimitrov who studied algae systems in depth).
One of the most promising companies, GreenFuel, recently experienced 'successful failure' with its project, resulting in the lay-off of half of its staff. An algae company in South Africa went bust because it couldn't deliver a fraction of what it had promised to investors (previous post). Another one in the US saw its expensive and fragile photobioreactors destroyed in a storm. Some companies have given up on the concept alltogether and simply switched to more robust terrestrial energy cropping instead.
Algae only yield large amounts of biomass when they are grown in a closed environment that allows nutrient flows to be controlled carefully. Such systems based on photobioreactors are extremely expensive and have been dismissed early on by scientists in the 1970s. Instead, open ponds could be used, but here algae cultures rapidly become unstable and yield low amounts of biomass. Large-scale trials conducted in the 1970s and 1980s showed yields are consistently lower than ordinary terrestrial crops. Infrastructure costs, the risk of failed cultures and low yields do not warrant the upfront investments in such ponds.
Still, some are trying to develop low-cost closed environments for algae production, and if the technology works out, then all the better for all of us. The latest attempt comes from Diversified Energy Corporation which has formed a partnership and licensing arrangement for a patent pending system invented by XL Renewables, Inc. The approach, called Simgae (for 'simple algae'), utilizes common agriculture and irrigation components to produce algae at a fraction of the cost of competing systems.
Instead of creating elaborate architectures designed to push yield to its utmost maximum, the proposed system makes cost and simplicity the driving variables. It uses unique thin walled polyethylene tubing, called 'Algae Biotape', similar to conventional drip irrigation tubes (schematic, click to enlarge). The patent pending biotape is laid out in parallel across a field. Under pressure, water containing the necessary nutrients and a small fraction of algae are slowly introduced into the biotape. Carbon dioxide is injected periodically and after roughly 24 hours the flow leaves the Algae Biotape with a markedly greater concentration of algae than was started.
All the supporting hardware components and processes involved in Simgae are direct applications from the agriculture industry. Re-use of these practices avoids the need for expensive and complex hardware and costly installation and maintenance. The Simgae design is expected to provide an annual algae yield of 100 – 200 dry tons per acre (250-500tons/ha): energy :: sustainability :: ethanol :: biodiesel :: biomass :: bioenergy :: biofuels :: algae :: Capital costs are expected to be approximately $45,000 – $60,000 (a 2 – 16 times improvement over competing systems) and profitable oil production costs are estimated at only $0.08 – $0.12/pound. These oil costs compare to recent market prices of feedstock oils anywhere from $0.25 – $0.44/pound.
We’ve kept the veil on Simgae until we were absolutely confident in its performance and economics. This is the right technology at the right time to deliver algae biomass for use as a feedstock for biofuel oils, super-antioxidant animal feeds, starches to the ethanol industry, and many other uses. All of this is packaged in a cost effective, easy to install and maintain system that also cleans dirty water and converts carbon dioxide to oxygen through photosynthesis. We are thrilled to be partnered with Diversified Energy to introduce Simgae on a global basis. - Ben Cloud, President and COO of XL Renewables
The companies think that at 1/2 – 1/16th the capital cost, profitable oil production will cost between $0.08 – $0.12/pound, partly due to low operations and maintenance requirements.
Under an exclusive worldwide license, Diversified Energy will provide systems engineering and project management to commercialize the technology.
The team is currently conducting a demonstration of the technology in Casa Grande, Arizona. Continued testing and system optimization is expected to occur through 2008.
Diversified Energy Corporation, headquartered in Gilbert, Arizona is a privately held alternative and renewable energy company focused on maturing innovative technologies, developing commercial energy projects, and providing engineering services support to project developers. Principal areas of expertise include biofuels, gasification, and algae production.
XL Renewables, Inc, Based in Phoenix, Arizona, is developing an integrated biorefinery located in Vicksburg, Arizona, 100 miles west of Phoenix in La Paz County. The $260 million project integrates a modern dairy operation with a biofuels plant to produce ethanol, biodiesel, milk, animal feed and compost fertilizer. The integrated biorefinery utilizes the dairy manure, along with other waste streams to provide 100% of the power, heat and steam needs of the project and significantly lower production costs.
For the first time throughout Ireland, drivers of standard petrol powered vehicles will be able to use a biofuel without risk to the car manufacturer's warranty. The fuel is being introduced at all 150 Maxol service stations nationwide in September.
The Maxol Group is replacing its regular unleaded petrol with its new E5 fuel - a blend of 95% petrol and 5% locally produced bio-ethanol which will retail at the same price as standard unleaded petrol. Maxol's E5 fuel has been successfully piloted at over 24 service stations throughout the North East of Ireland since September 2006.
The bio-ethanol fuel in E5 is 100% organic and is currently made from whey, a milk derivative and a by-product of the Carbery Milk Products Cheese plant in Ballineen, Co. Cork.
The rollout of the E5 green fuel is another first for Maxol in the Irish fuels market, following on from the launch of their E85 fuel (85% bio-ethanol) in September 2005. It is also further evidence of Maxol's commitment to renewable fuels and to helping the Irish Government meet bio fuel consumption targets set out in EU Directives. These targets require bio fuels to account for 5.75% by 2010 and 20% by 2020.
This move towards ethanol use helps Ireland to meet EU targets. It is a win for consumers who benefit from lower emission fuel at no extra cost, a win for agriculture which can now develop interests in ethanol production and a win for the economy in that it could potentially reduce our imports. - Tom Noonan, Chief Executive of the Maxol Group
Although 5% may seem at first to be a small percentage, when applied to every litre of petrol that Maxol sells through its 150 service stations in the Republic of Ireland, this adds up to a very significant amount of locally produced, renewable and carbon neutral fuel: energy :: sustainability :: biomass :: bioenergy :: biofuels :: whey :: dairy :: ethanol :: Ireland :: Renewable fuels are an essential part of our future and our children's future, says Maxol, which is keen to develop initiatives in this area to help our environment. "While this is simply another relatively modest step along the path towards fossil fuel substitution, I can envisage a time in the not-too-distant future when the only fuels from Maxol service stations will be bio-fuels", concludes Noonan.
Ethanol made from whey is not new. Recently, a fuel retailer in New Zealand introduced the biofuel in its service stations, collaborating with a large dairy cooperative which turns the milk by-product into alcohol (previous post).
Earlier, one of Germany's largest dairy products groups also announced a major investment in producing ethanol from whey, with a plant integrated into the dairy factory, that will produce 10 million liters (2.64 million gallons) of the biofuel per year.
Amelot Holdings, Inc. and Pan-Am Biofuels, Inc., a Utah-based company with biofuel feedstock plantations located in Costa Rica, have announced a joint venture partnership to develop a 2,000-acre (809 hectare) Jatropha plantation in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
The planned plantation, when fully operational in 2008, will produce up to 3 million gallons (11.3 million liters) of Crude Jatropha Oil (CJO), the feedstock used to produce biodiesel.
Based on our proprietary knowledge and extensive experience gained, we have developed and enhanced systems for creating a failsafe Jatropha fuel farm. This project represents many months of intense work and planning to build what will become, when it is fully operational, the largest combination feedstock and bio-diesel production facilities of its kind in Central America. - Joseph J. Black, President of Pan-Am Biofuels
The plantation will be located in the Guanacaste province, in North-Western Costa Rica, which has an optimal climate for growing the Jatropha Curcas shurbs. This perennial tropical crop requires relatively low inputs, can be grown on poor soils and yields oil from seeds that have to be harvested manually.
The proposed project's low-risk and unique funding methodology will initially be facilitated within a blended public/private funding arrangement. Amelot holdings will have exclusive rights to all of the CJO produced by the plantation: energy :: sustainability :: plantation :: jatropha :: biodiesel :: biomass :: bioenergy :: biofuels :: Costa Rica :: Aziz Hirji, Chairman of Amelot holdings, stated, "To be in the biodiesel refining business today requires the control of a bio-feedstock source necessary to produce biodiesel. We are confident that our current and future needs for feedstock will be secured and enhanced in this joint venture. In addition, this venture will greatly enhance the efficiency and profitability of Amelot's operations."
Pan-Am Biofuels, Inc. is a business entity poised to meet the explosive demand for alternative fuels through sustainable business solutions and green technologies that safeguard the future of our planet. Pan-Am uses Jatropha saplings made from selected and tested Jatropha seeds. They offer turnkey projects to corporations and individuals for the development of Jatropha plantations.
Amelot Holdings, Inc., a publicly traded company, is a diversified holding company that has identified a projected $20 billion opportunity to manufacture renewable fuels to supply the growing demand and to reduce the dependency and environmental impact of fossil fuels.
Cassava has one of the highest rates of CO2 fixation and sucrose synthesis for any C3 plant. With this in mind, researchers from Ohio State University develop transgenic cassava with starch yields up 2.6 times higher than normal plants by increasing the sink strength for carbohydrate in the crop. This means cassava makes for a 'super crop' when it comes to both CO2 fixation and carbohydrate production, i.e. sugars, the feedstock for ethanol - Plant Biotechnology Journal - Volume 4/Issue 4 - July 2006
Vietnam's Institute of Tropical Biology to invest in Jatropha research - Le courrier du Vietnam - Sept. 6, 2006
Genetic study proves humans have pushed orangutans to the brink of extinction; genetic decline coincides with establishment of oil palm plantations in Malaysia/Indonesia since the 1950/60s- Public Library of Science / Biology, Volume 4/Issue 2 - February, 2006
Synthetic Genomics and the Asiatic Centre for Genome Technology Sdn Bhd (ACGT) have created a multi-year research and development joint venture to sequence and analyze the oil palm genome. In-depth genomic analyses will be followed by subsequent studies that will analyze the oil palm’s root and leaf microbial communities, to identify biomarkers and metabolic pathways that affect the plant's growth and viability. Biopact - July, 2007
Researchers at the International Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics have developed a sweet sorghum for the production of ethanol. The new variety has a very high sugar content in its root. Average yields in trial fields in the Philippines were between 95 to 125 tons, considerably higher than those of sugarcane - ICRISAT - Feb. 28, 2007
Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania, develops sorghum and millet processing technologies suitable for local conditions in effort to empower small farmers - IPP Media - Sept. 6, 2006
South Africa blocks GM Sorghum project for fears over contamination of local wild sorghums - Kruger Park - Aug. 26, 2006
Brazilian authorities have given their fiat for field trials with genetically modified sugar cane plants. The Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira (Cane Technology Center - CTC) will test three genetically modified varieties that are expected to yield 15% more sugar - GMO Compass
The International Eucalyptus Genome Consortium's sequencing effort has been taken up as a project under the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Joint Genome Project for the year 2008. - Biopact June 12, 2007
Brazilian state of Acre intends to make cattle ranchers reforest land which they have cleared for grazing. The sustainable forestry policy is based on replanting economic tree crops such as mahogany, acai, Brazil nut and palms - BBCNews Sept. 27, 2006
Illegal deforestation of acacia for charcoal is becoming a serious problem in Kenya's Naivasha area. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai's Green Belt Movement re-afforests with acacia but needs more support to win fight against illegal loggers - Kenya Times Sept. 5, 2006
Australian scientists are conducting a 'time-machine' experiment to see how eucalyptus trees cope with increased levels of CO2 and global warming. - University of Western Sydney Aug. 28, 2006
Bamboo planting can slow deforestation, scientists from the International Center for Research in Agroforestry in Nairobi, Kenya, say. Bamboo rapidly becoming economically beneficial crop with large potential for energy, bioremediation, and afforestation - Chosun (S.Korea) Aug. 30, 2006
"The beauty of miscanthus is that you only have to sow it once...Because of the way it grows, there is no need for fertilisers or chemicals", an English entrepreneur talks about his experience with Miscanthus as an energy crop - Grantham Today Aug. 8, 2006