Thursday, July 30, 2009

biofuelwatch - World Falling Short On Emergency Food Aid: U.N. Body

Key quote:

While grain prices have since eased on world markets, food prices in most developing countries have continued to climb at a time when fewer people can afford them because of shockwaves from the economic downturn.

"The food crisis is not over in the developing world. In fact, the situation is more alarming in many countries than it was even a year ago," Sheeran said.

World Falling Short On Emergency Food Aid: U.N. Body

Date: 30-Jul-09
Country: US
Author: Roberta Rampton

World Falling Short On Emergency Food Aid: U.N. Body Photo: Finbarr O'Reilly
A Somali mother feeds her malnourished six-month-old son at Dagahaley camp in Dadaab in Kenya's northeastern province, June 3, 2009.
Photo: Finbarr O'Reilly

WASHINGTON - The world is falling far short in feeding its most critically hungry, pledging only $3.7 billion of the $6.7 billion needed to fund the World Food Program for 2009, the head of the United Nations relief agency said on Wednesday.

The agency has so far received only $1.8 billion and has had to cut back rations and programs to the 108 million people it serves, said Josette Sheeran, its executive director.

The cutbacks will have a "destabilizing" impact in parts of the world reeling from dramatically higher food prices and less income due to the global financial crisis, Sheeran said.

"There's nothing more basic than food. If people don't have it, one of three things happen: they revolt, they migrate or they die," Sheeran said.

More than 1 billion people in the world are chronically hungry, up from 860 million two years ago. The WFP helps feed those deemed most desperate -- about 10 percent of the total.

When food prices soared to record levels last year, prompting riots and hoarding in some countries, the WFP raised a record $5 billion in donations -- about $2 billion more than in 2007 -- to help feed 102 million people in 78 countries.

While grain prices have since eased on world markets, food prices in most developing countries have continued to climb at a time when fewer people can afford them because of shockwaves from the economic downturn.

"The food crisis is not over in the developing world. In fact, the situation is more alarming in many countries than it was even a year ago," Sheeran said.

Meanwhile, donor countries have spent trillions trying to stabilize the economy, and have had to tighten budgets.

This year the WFP has already had to cut rations in Kenya, where it helps about a third of the 10 million people identified as chronically hungry, and is now feeding only 70,000 children in a Bangladesh program, down from 300,000.

Sheeran said the United States has "stepped up" to boost its emergency food aid funding this year, but declined to name countries that have not.

She appealed to rich countries at the recent G8 meeting in Italy to help make up what she called an "unprecedented" shortfall, and will ask the G20 group of nations for help when they gather in Pittsburgh in September.

In Italy, leaders agreed to spend $20 billion over three years helping small farmers feed themselves and their neighbors.

The food security initiative could help end chronic hunger in the long term, but donors also must keep up support for emergency food aid in the meantime, Sheeran said.

"The challenge will be going ahead as a plan of action is put forward," she said. "Everyone says, 'This is additional money, this is not taking from existing programs.' But we will remain vigilant to make the case," she said.

The Obama administration will roll out more details in the next several months of its agricultural development aid plan, a senior administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development told a gathering of Capitol Hill staffers, lobbyists and diplomats on Wednesday.

The plan, tentatively called the "Seeking a World Without Hunger" initiative, will invest in boosting farmers' productivity and improving storage, processing and transportation infrastructure in coordination with recipient countries and other donors, said Franklin Moore of USAID's Africa bureau.

The plan will not mean the U.S. government steps back from emergency food aid, Moore said.
"I do not view this as 'either-or,'" he said. "The world will be dependent on the U.S. role as an emergency food supplier for quite some time."

(Editing by Christian Wiessner)
© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

biofuelwatch - NY Times: Biodiesel Plucked From Poultry

Hello all,

The shift to 'waste' animal parts based biodiesel is clearly becoming serious. You've seen my report about the Darling rendering plant in San Francisco. Last week there was the report about arctic shark and other 'by-catch' being used as biodiesel feedstock, and now see below, the recent NY Times report on chicken plucking renderings.

These are not isolated incidents. The biofuel industry, seeing that we as organisers are successfully turning cities like Berkeley and Seattle away from obviously unsustainable plant based biofuels, is desperately grasping for a other feedstock that it can pawn off to the public as 'sustainable' 'waste' 'recycling'. It is clear they've decided that this feedstock is 'waste' animal parts and 'by-catch' from the incredibly environmentally destructive factory animal farming and factory fishing industries.

It is no longer acceptable for us to stand on the sidelines while this massive ramping up of the use of animals to create biodiesel continues. We must start actively and aggressively reporting, and organising, to stop this latest ploy of the agro-fuels industries from gaining any further dangerous traction and marketshare.

I urgently implore those of you who run BioFuel Watch UK to put up a new web page, links and studies on these new animal based frankenfuels so that we can begin countering the industry rhetoric on them immediately.

thank you

Eric Brooks
San Francisco Green Party

Here is the NY Times report:

The New York Times

July 28, 2009

A Recipe for Biodiesel, Plucked From Poultry

Those researchers in the department of chemical and materials engineering at the University of Nevada in Reno are at it again. Last year they showed the world that it was possible to make biodiesel fuel from coffee grounds. This time, it’s chicken feathers.

In a paper in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Mano Misra, Susanta K. Mohapatra and colleagues describe how they extracted fat from chicken feather meal and converted it into good-quality biodiesel.

Feather meal, which is commonly used as fertilizer or animal feed, is a byproduct of large-scale poultry production and often includes blood and offal. It can contain up to 11 percent fat.

The researchers extracted the fat by boiling the meal in water and converting it to biodiesel by a process called transesterification.

They say that there is enough feather meal produced in the United States alone to create about 150 million gallons of biodiesel a year. That’s just a drop in the bucket, really, but the researchers note that most current production of biodiesel uses vegetable oil, and as demand for the fuel grows there is likely to be competition for the oil between food uses and fuel uses.

Thus it’s important, the researchers say, to seek alternative sources for biodiesel production — with the goal, as they put it, of “food for hunger, waste for fuel.”

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

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biofuelwatch - UK firm scouts Georgia for wood chips

Further to Andrew Boswell's post earlier today, #3249.

According to research for the UK Environment Agency (, final slide) if such steady sourcing could be achieved from existing forest it would be likely to achieve a severalfold CO2 saving on the equivalent coal-electricity, though CO2 savings severalfold better still would be achievable with the same biomass.

UK firm scouts Georgia for wood chips

Saturday, July 18, 2009, 12:15pm EDT

UK firm MGT Power Limited is scouting the Southeast, including Georgia, for a steady source of wood chips for a massive new biomass electricity plant.

MGT recently got the nod from the British government to proceed with the development of the $815 million Tees Renewable Energy Plant to be located in northeast England. The plant will use some 2.65 million tons of wood chips a year. The plant will be one of the largest of its kind in the world, generating enough electricity to meet the needs of about 600,000 homes, according to a company release.

"The Government's consent is welcome news as we are at an advanced stage with the forestry establishment for fuel sourcing and power plant procurement," said Chris Moore, director of MGT Power. "We can now appoint our banks, conclude the financing and reach agreement with our preferred technology bidders. We are moving toward an early construction start with a high degree of confidence."

The Tees Renewable Energy Plant will begin commercial operation in late 2012.

"Other similarly sized biomass plants are proposed in other parts of the country, but our Teesport project is currently two years ahead of the pack and likely to be one of the first to be operational. It comes at a time when replacement UK energy generation capacity is urgently needed," Moore said.

MGT's plan is to source woodchips from the Southeast, as well as other locations throughout North America and South America and the Baltic States. While no supply agreements have been formalized, the company is having advanced discussions with suppliers and shipping facilities throughout the Southeast US as part of its efforts to formulate specific plans, a company spokesperson said.

MGT has traveled to nearly all areas in the southern US that have both an ample supply of wood chips and easy access to ports that can export chips. Georgia is included in that area, the spokesperson added.

Forest2Market is acting as MGT's North American advisor for supply chain issues.



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biofuelwatch - EU pledges incentives for crude palm oil producers | Palm Oil HQ

The European Union has pledged to offer incentives to Indonesia’s palm oil companies that use ecofriendly ways to produce palm oil, which would slash emissions and help deal with climate change.

EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation to Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam Julian Wilson insisted Friday emissions cut targets would not harm those Indonesia’s exporters not producing palm oil through environmentally friendly methods.

“We won’t harm the [palm oil] industry in Indonesia,” Wilson said. “All palm oil exporters will continue to enjoy exactly the same access at the same tariff rate as before, regardless of how they produce and process the palm oil.”

The EU office invited the Indonesian government, palm oil producers and environmental activists to discuss the newly launched

EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED), which has a mandatory target of the use of 10 percent renewable energy, such as biofuel, in each member state.

Incentives, such as investment aid, tax exemption or refunds, would be an additional benefit to palm oil companies, who could slash emissions by a minimum of 35 percent, calculated from the total emissions, from cultivation, land use, processing and palm oil distribution, to carbon capture.

EU Natural Resources and Environment program manager Thibaut Portevin said the palm oil from
land containing high biodiversity value would not be eligible for the incentives.

“Nor would conversion of land with high carbon stocks,” he said, adding that each producer should be able to demonstrate actual emissions cuts before claiming incentives.

Indonesia produced about 17.4 million tons of palm oil from its 6.8 million hectares of plantations in 2007, making it the world’s largest palm oil producer. The sector, which contributed US$8 billion to the country’s total exports last year, employs up to three million people.

However, Indonesia has received persistent protests from activists and international buyers over its massive plantation expansion, which they say has destroyed many areas of forest habitat, including that of the orangutan, and are also accused of using fire to clear land, which exacerbates climate change.

Forest campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia Bustar Maitar said EU policy had yet to answer
the real problem of deforestation in Indonesia.

“For Greenpeace, such EU policy is not strong enough to stop deforestation, because the unchanged demand for palm oil from member states encourages massive plantation expansion in Indonesia,” he told The Jakarta Post. He said European countries should focus on using the “energy revolution”, such as wind power, to help combat climate change and stop deforestation in forest countries.

Indonesia holds the global carbon emissions record for deforestation and is third behind the US and China for total man-made emissions.

Claudia Theile
Campaigner Biomass/Palmoil

Friends of the Earth
P.O. Box 19199
1000 GD Amsterdam
The Netherlands
T (+31) (0)20 5507 300
F (+31) (0)20 5507 310


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biofuelwatch - biomass at Thetford (40Mw)

Power plant plan for Thetford Forest


Last updated: 16/07/2009 10:46:00

A computed generated image of the proposed Thetford Renewable Energy Plant by Energy Power Resources (EPR), which plans to submit a planning application for the waste wood fuelled power station, near Thetford, in SeptemberA computed generated image of the proposed Thetford Renewable Energy Plant by Energy Power Resources (EPR), which plans to submit a planning application for the waste wood fuelled power station, near Thetford, in September

A computed generated image of the proposed Thetford Renewable Energy Plant by Energy Power Resources (EPR), which plans to submit a planning application for the waste wood fuelled power station, near Thetford, in September

A green energy company is set to submit plans for a new power plant on the edge of Thetford Forest after receiving a “positive” response during a public consultation exercise.

Energy Power Resources (EPR) unveiled proposals last month for a second biomass power plant off the A134.

The company, which has been running a poultry litter powered plant at Two Mile Bottom, near Thetford, since 1999, has now revealed that it aims to submit a planning application for a waste wood station in the autumn.

The news comes after 74pc of local residents supported the scheme at a two day public exhibition in Thetford last month .

Officials from EPR yesterday said that 46 out of the 62 people who completed a consultation questionnaire were “very supportive” or “supportive” of the plans. Eleven were “very opposed.”

The Thetford Renewable Energy Plant, which is proposed 1km away from the company's existing station, would generate 40 megawatts of electricity a year - enough to power almost 70,000 homes. EPR claims that the proposed plant would cut CO2 greenhouse gas emissions by more than 120,000 tonnes a year.

The station, which would provide around 36 full time jobs, is planned for farmland off the A134 between the A11 roundabout and Thetford Rugby Club.

Gary Coombs, business development manager for EPR, said the company hoped to submit a formal application to Norfolk County Council at the end of September.

“The exhibition went very well and it was an excellent opportunity for us to discuss our plans for a new biomass renewable energy plant and answer questions.

“We are pleased with the feedback we received and we are encouraged that so many people can see the benefits of developing a secure and sustainable energy source which would help towards the region's renewable energy targets,” he said.

The public is also being consulted on the design of the planned Thetford Renewable Energy Plant. People have until September 15 to complete EPR's questionnaire, which can be found at


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biofuelwatch - Biomass on Teeside is a 'roller-coaster'

Fortunes ebb and flow at northern ports

By Chris Tighe and Andrew Bounds

Published: July 26 2009 23:15 | Last updated: July 26 2009 23:15

A short stretch on the south bank of the river Tees exemplifies the roller-coaster ride the east-coast ports of the north of England are experiencing during the recession.

This land is part of Tees­port, the UK’s third-biggest port by tonnage, and has been chosen by MGT Power as the site for one of the world’s largest biomass plants, a £500m, 295MW colossus given the go-ahead this month.

It is a coup for PD Ports and gives Teesport’s owner stature in the fast-growing renewables sector. It adds 2.4m tonnes in imported woodchip fuel to the group’s annual cargo processing.

Nearby, Tesco will next month open a £100m, 1.2m sq ft import centre serving northern Britain, boosting Teesport’s container traffic and raising the profile of a port that aspires to develop a £300m deep-sea Northern Gateway container terminal. This project has planning permission and PD Ports wants to press ahead when the recession lifts.

But a mile or so along the Tees towards the river mouth, the Teeside Cast Products works, a huge site dominated by the Redcar blast furnace, awaits news from Corus, its owner, on whether it will continue operating beyond August or be mothballed.

TCP accounts for about 2m tonnes of steel slab exports annually through Teesport. Its iron ore terminal handles up to 8m tonnes of imported ore a year and 1m-2m tonnes of coal. Some other Teeside plants are also threatened with impending closure.

Babcock & Brown Infra­structure, which owns PD Ports, this year put the business, whose main focus is Teesport, up for sale, but the uncertainty surrounding TCP has caused delay.

Martyn Pellew, group development director of PD Ports, says TCP’s difficulty is a “big cloud on the horizon”. However, he insists that “long-term prospects remain remarkably good”. Other power station developments are possible and Teesport’s ambitions in offshore wind farming have been enhanced by this month’s opening of a manufacturing plant on Hartlepool port land by JDR Cable Systems.

Falling land prices in the downturn have also spurred investment. AV Dawson, a family-owned logistics business in Middlesbrough which has a wharf on the Tees and a railhead, is buying land near the river for expansion. “We have witnessed a number of once-in-a-working-lifetime property opportunities,” says Gary Dawson, managing director.

And Peter Stephenson, chairman of Able UK, has submitted plans to North Lincolnshire council for one of the UK’s biggest port-related developments. Able anticipates £100m investment over 10 years at a 1,500-acre site north of Immingham on the Humber’s south bank, creating transport depots, warehousing and business facilities.

Immingham and its three sister ports, Grimsby, Goole and Hull, run by Associated British Ports, together handle about 14 per cent of UK seaborne trade. That volume – 93m tonnes in 2008 – has fallen about 20 per cent, says John Fitzgerald, port director for Immingham and Grimsby.

Spread of trade – from coal to wheat and fertilisers – has helped, but he says it is difficult to forecast in the short term. The port has a bright long-term future and investment plans will go ahead, Mr Fitzgerald says, not least because of the low-carbon revolution.

“Ports and energy have always been linked. They developed in Victorian times to take British coal around the world to fuel the industrial revolution.”

There would be a ready trade in importing material to make biofuels and servicing offshore wind farms, he says.

Drax, the UK’s largest coal-fired power station, has announced plans for a biomass-fuelled plant at Immingham.

ABP also wants to build a cruise terminal at Hull. It would need some public funding, it says, but the economic case is strong.

Cruise passengers spend an average of £120 at each destination and Hull is home to top-flight football and rugby league clubs, and a giant aquarium called The Deep, and offers access to York and the Yorkshire Dales.

The port hosts P&O overnight passenger services to Zeebrugge in Belgium and Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and has deep-water quays where cruise liners could berth.

With cruise tourism contributing more than £5m annually to north-east England’s economy, the Port of Tyne, which was named European port of the year in 2007 and 2008, is developing its cruise business.

Like Immingham and Grimsby, the Tyne has had to cope with the downturn in car manufacturing. It handles exports from Nissan’s Sunderland plant and also Volkswagens imported into the UK. But diversification, backed by £100m investment during the past decade, has strengthened the port. And from struggling in the early 1990s as its traditional core business of coal exports dwindled, it has become a big coal importer.

Smaller east-coast ports have also showed adaptability. The port of Blyth in Northumberland recently announced plans for a £200m biomass plant by Renewable Energy Systems and the north dock of Seaham, once a Durham coal port, is being turned into a marina.

Flexibility and an east-coast location are big assets, but in a recession, Mr Pellew observes: “Bad news comes more quickly than good news.”

Planning law also needs to change. “It’s no good having a wish list for renewable energy and not getting on with it,” he says. “If we’re going to take this economy forward out of recession we need a planning system which helps investment.”


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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

biofuelwatch - More on Venter and GM

also UK Govt funding of biofuel research that might include GM:

"ExxonMobil and Craig Venter, the pioneer of human genome research, have set up a $600m partnership to research the potential for making biofuels from algae. Mr Venter told the Financial Times that the joint venture was "critical for the whole world" but warned that commercial deployment could be 10 years away. "There has been so much hype and hope about the potential for algae that this announcement should act as a reality check for everyone," said Mr Venter…But while Mr Venter, like other biotech entrepreneurs and big oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron, has been able to produce small amounts of oil from algae, no-one has yet managed to demonstrate the process at a large enough scale or a low enough cost…Mr Venter said he expected that the algae used would have to be genetically modified. Over time, engineered products will be essential to this project, said Mr Venter. "It's the only way we can change the yield far beyond nature, and make the algae resistant to virus attacks and so on."…"

In the United Kingdom, this work is being funded directly by Central Government, as witnessed by the tiny little footnote in the Low Carbon Transition Plan published on 15th July 2009 :-\UK%20Low%20Carbon%20Transition%20Plan%20WP09\1_20090715190000_e_@@_DECCWPUKLCTransitionPlan.pdf&filetype=4

page 143
footnote 10
"This includes £20 million investment to launch the Sustainable Bioenergy Centre; £6 million for the Advanced Bioenergy Directed Research Accelerator investigating the potential of algae for biofuels; and an intention to provide financial support for the creation by industry of a biofuels demonstration plant, which would use organic waste material to produce bioethanol and renewable power."


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biofuelwatch - US 'Dead Zone' smaller but more severe: NOAA

US 'Dead Zone' smaller but more severe: NOAA
Date: 28-Jul-09
Country: US
Author: Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON - The "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico, an area choked by low oxygen levels that threatens marine life, is smaller than expected this year but more deadly, the government said on Monday.

The zone, caused by a runoff of agricultural chemicals from farms along the Mississippi River, measured about 3,000 square miles or about 1.5 times the size of the state of Delaware, compared with estimates that it would measure up to nearly 8,500 square miles, scientists said.

"Clearly the flow of excess nitrogen and phosphorus from agricultural fields in the Mississippi drainage basin continues to wreak havoc with life in the Gulf," said Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told reporters in a teleconference.

Unusually strong winds and currents stirred the waters and brought oxygen back in, making the zone smaller than anticipated.

But Nancy Rabalais, a scientist from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, who helped measure the zone during a week-long expedition, said it was more severe because the low oxygen levels are closer to the surface than in recent years.

The dead zone threatens Gulf fisheries worth nearly $3 billion per year.

Now marine life that normally feed close to the sea bottom, including eels and certain kinds of shrimp and crabs, are being found closer to the surface.

The dead zone is caused by fertilizers and nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus that wash off crop lands into the Mississippi, leading to the overproduction of tiny organisms such as algae in the Gulf of Mexico.

If the organisms are not eaten, they die and fall to the bottom of the ocean where bacteria rots them, sucking oxygen from the water.

The average size of the dead zone during the past five years has been about 6,000 square miles, or nearly the size of the state of Connecticut.

Federal and state agencies have worked together in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River Watershed Nutrient Task Force since 2001 to control growth of the zone. It wants to cut it to about 2,00O square miles by 2015.

But some say progress on controlling runoff has been slow.

"Really relatively little has been done to implement the action plan," said Donald Boesch, a marine scientist at the University of Maryland. He said U.S. mandates for more biofuels made from corn contribute to chemical runoff and the zone's size.

For their part, biofuels companies say they are using fewer chemicals to grow corn every year.
Unlike other efforts in other regions that have dead zones, such as the Chesapeake Bay and the Baltic Sea, numerical goals have not been set for reducing nutrients from areas near the Mississippi basin, Boesch said.

A federal environmental regulator said the task force will meet in Iowa in the autumn to bring new leadership and ideas to tackle the problem.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

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by Duff Badgley
Duff driving his message home

Duff driving his message home

The City of Seattle has decided to "completely discontinue crop-based biofuels", according to a well-placed source in city government. This historic decision comes after King County — Washington's most populous county — quit all biofuels in 2008.

Now, both of the Northwest's largest government biofuel consumers have quit. Seattle's decision also marks the end of a period when Seattle and King County considered crop-based biofuels to be environmentally better than petrol.

Studies have shown crop-based biofuels trigger rainforest destruction greatly worsening climate change. By robbing land from food production, these same biofuels also cause hunger and starvation affecting millions. For this reason, crop-based biofuels have been called a "Crime Against Humanity" by a high-ranking U.N. official.

One Earth Climate Action Group and Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin were instrumental in Seattle's momentous decision to quit biofuels.

Since 2007, One Earth Climate Action Group has been staging street protests against crop-based biofuels use by Seattle and King County. One Earth testified twice before city council that use of crop-based biofuels meant Seattle was "knowingly participating in a Crime Against Humanity". One Earth's protests and testimony lead to direct negotiations with Conlin.

Conlin's Chief Legislative aide, Rob Gala, said, "We presented the argument that it (crop-based biofuel) was both worse in terms of climate changing emissions and more expensive for the City. OSE (Office of Sustainability and Environment) and the Mayor's office … indicated that they agreed and are planning to comply with our request."

This decision by Seattle will make the governments of the Northwest's biggest city and its county with highest population essentially biofuel-free. Washington State still stubbornly requires all gasoline sales be 2% ethanol and all diesel sales to be 2% biodiesel.

All crop-based biofuels, the only biofuels available for mass consumption, do two things:

(1) Cause hunger and starvation affecting hundreds of millions of humans. This why the U.N has called these biofuels a "Crime Against Humanity".

(2) Cause rainforest destruction releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide and greatly worsening our Climate Crisis.

"We're changing Seattle's culture and infra-structure, the hardest and most essential things in climate activism", said One Earth founder, Duff Badgley. "If we are to have a Livable Planet, our success in causing structural change in Seattle and King County need to be widely repeated."

Seattle currently has been burning 700,000 gallons per year of American soy biodiesel. It previously burned palm and canola biodiesel.

Prior to June, 2008, King County Metro buses had been burning two million gallons per year of biodiesel made from Canadian canola or Malaysian palm oil. King County Metro operates the country's 9th largest public transport system.

In the past decade, diesel-powered government vehicles from Seattle and King County have burned crop-based biodiesel made by either Imperium Renewables or Cargill. In 2007, Imperium built a 100-million-gallon-per-year biodiesel refinery in rural Grays Harbor, WA. It stopped production in early 2009. Cargill is the world's largest private corporation with vast holdings in the rainforests of Brazil and Southeast Asia.

A public announcement from Seattle about its decision to quit crop-based biofuels is expected before the end of this month. Seattle will likely continue to research the feasibility of using waste-based biodiesel in its fleet vehicles.

Duff Badgley is the founder of the One Earth Climate Action Group and was the 2008 gubernatorial candidate for the Green Party of Washington State.


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Saturday, July 25, 2009

biofuelwatch - global biofuels market to reach 247 bil by 2020

Global biofuels market to hit $247 billion by 2020
Alex Salkever

Jul 24th 2009 at 3:30PM
Text SizeAAA

Filed under: Energy, Company News, Economy


The switch from traditional fossil fuels to greener biofuels is well underway and gathering steam, according to green and clean tech consultancy Pike Research. What's more, Pike anticipates that the global biofuels market will triple from $76 billion today to nearly a quarter trillion dollars in 2020.

That's an astonishing growth rate in a short time frame but Pike lays out in a report that a convergence of technology maturation and market demand that will take biofuels into the mainstream.

In particular, a troika of biofuel technologies are set to storm the market. Biofuels derived from waste grease collected at restaurants and boiled down from animal wastes, among other places, are set to start hitting the market in 2010. Biofuels extracted from jatropha, a prolific weed that has far better production economics than sugar cane or corn (the two prevalent fuel stocks for ethanol at present), will enter the market in 2014. But the biggest part of the tsunami could come from the entry of algae-based biofuels, which can closely mimic traditional petroleum products.

A number of heavy hitters are betting on these technologies, including genetics genius Craig Venter and oil giants Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A). All three technologies have key political and economic advantages. None of them competes for resources with humans seeking food, as is the case with corn-based ethanol. Use of corn to make biofuels has become highly controversial. During the 2008 oil spike, corn was at or near historic high prices in part due to U.S. government subsidies for ethanol production. This lead food activists to blame ethanol for food shortages.

In contrast, humans don't eat jatropha or waste oil or algae. The lack of human consumption also removes some concerns about using genetic manipulation to augment yields from algae and jatropha. Lastly, ethanol is a notably corrosive substance. Many engineers and mechanics have worried that long-term use of ethanol could have seriously deleterious effects on pipelines, car engines and other metal products. Lastly, because all three of these new sources could produce oil-based biofuels rather than starch-based ethanol, these fuels could more easily be integrated into existing petroleum production and refining infrastructure.

Not that you'll be able to harvest your own biofuels from your backyard fish pond or recycle your bacon grease, but on a larger scale, that does seem to be the way biofuels are going. Politically, every government that is not a major oil-producing country is desperate to create alternative fuel sources to diminish its reliance on foreign nations for critical products. The folks at Pike believe this will be enough impetus to encourage continued government support from some of these alternative biofuels programs.

Rachel Smolker
Hinesburg, Vermont, U.S.A.
office: (802) 482 2848
mobile: (802) 735-7794
skype: rachel smolker



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biofuelwatch - jatropha + Conttinental biofuel test flight

Article by Olaseinde Arigbede , a doctor, neuroscientist and smallholder in Nigeria listing objections to use of jatropha for biofuels.

Continental Airlines biofuel test flight, only a small percentage of algea used, 2.5 % in one engine

Continental Airlines biofuel test flight reported 1 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency


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Thursday, July 23, 2009

biofuelwatch - Monbiot on ethanol use in USA

The usual, expected, degree of clarity from Monbiot - thing that jumps out is the need to continue to promote broader understanding and acceptance of the concept of agrofuels as opposed to biofuels.
Glenn Ashton
Ekogaia Consulting

US Car Manufacturers Plough a Lonely Furrow on Biofuels

Wednesday 22 July 2009

by: George Monbiot | Visit article original @ *The Guardian UK*

*/The US Environmental Protection Agency wants to boost the ethanol blend in fuels in a misguided bid to cut emissions./*

When the motor manufacturers are in dispute with the US Environmental Protection Agency, you wouldn't win much for guessing which side I'm likely to be on. But this time you'd be wrong.

The EPA has to decide whether or not to allow more ethanol to be blended with gasoline. At the moment the limit for ordinary motor gas (petrol) is 10%. The agency is inclined to raise this to 15%. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is trying to prevent or postpone it. I'm with the car makers, though not for the reasons they cite; ethanol's effect on a vehicle's performance is not what keeps me awake at night. Since 2004 I've been banging on about the impact of biofuels on the environment and global food supplies, and I've been horribly vindicated. In 2008 the expansion of biofuel production was directly responsible for the decline in global food stocks, which caused grain prices to rise, catalysing famines in many parts of the world. Cereal stockpiles declined by 53m tonnes; the production of biofuels, mostly by the US, consumed almost 100m tonnes, according to a piece in the Economist on 6th December 2007. As the UN's special rapporteur, Jean Ziegler says, turning food for people into food for cars is, "a crime against humanity."

It's also a crime against the environment. In almost all cases, biofuels made from grain or oil crops create more greenhouse emissions than petroleum. This is partly because they lead to an expansion in total crop production, which means that forests must be cut down, unploughed pastures must be tilled and wetlands must be drained to accommodate it. The carbon stored in both the vegetation and the soil is released and oxidised. Two papers in Science (here and here) show that when land clearance is taken into account, biofuels made from grain or oil crops cause a big increase in emissions.

It's also because grain crops require nitrogen fertilizers, which produce emissions of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas roughly 300 times as powerful as carbon dioxide. All told - apart from used chip fat (which can supply only a tiny fraction of motor fuel demand) - we're better off using petroleum.

But while other countries are starting to re-assess their biofuel programmes, the US is still ploughing ahead. Fuel suppliers are legally bound to blend 9bn gallons of biofuels into gasoline every year. This will rise to 36bn gallons a year in 2022. The Waxman-Markey Bill, passed recently by the House of Representatives, leans heavily on biofuels to meet US greenhouse gas targets. This is only because their total greenhouse impact has been deliberately ignored by legislators.

The US is committed to ethanol not because of concerns about the environment but because of the power of the agricultural lobby. Big Farmer grows all the policies it wants in Washington, as cornbelt representatives rely on grain barons and crop chemical manufacturers for political donations. Ethanol is the best thing that has happened to US agro-industry in decades: it greatly raises demand for grain while disproportionately rewarding the biggest growers (there are no niche markets here). So stand back and watch the battle of the lobbyists: Big Motor versus Big Farmer.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

biofuelwatch - Mexico: Oil palm business at the expense of the poor

From World Rainforest Movement Bulletin, July 2009,

Since 2004 the Mexican government has been promoting the expansion of oil palm plantations. Presently there are 9 oil extraction plants in four states, 6 of which are located in Chiapas, the main palm oil producing state in Mexico. During 2009, the government of the state of Chiapas will reach a total of 44 thousand hectares planted with oil palm trees and its governor has announced that by 2012 the intention is to reach a total of 100 thousand hectares, with a future projection reaching over 900 thousand hectares.

What is clear is that palm oil production has been possible thanks to strong government support, making it a profitable business. Direct support to farm operators for productive reconversion has been given in addition to trade promotion programmes and fostering of exports, advice and training etc. The European Union, also interested in oil palm plantations for agrofuel has been promoting the plantations in Chiapas since 2005, and more specifically, in the Lacandona Forest buffer zone and the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve buffer zone on the frontier with Guatemala.

Both the Federal and Chiapas governments affirm that the palm trees are being planted in areas that had previously been deforested by cattle raising and other activities that are no longer profitable. However, many activities are no longer "profitable" for the entrepreneurial market because the government's strategy to gain land for oil palm has been to decrease support to other sectors in order to give them over to these plantations. The government has abandoned rural areas and small farmers and, within the rationale of the Free Trade Agreements, it has focussed on the agribusiness market and not on food sovereignty. Small farmers, peasants and indigenous people are forgotten and very often obliged to enter these new dynamics and provide both cheap labour and their lands, thus subsidizing agribusiness profits. The oil palm business would not be profitable without the major subsidies granted by the government, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), with their funding of programmes such as Procampo, intended for investment in oil palm plantations.

As denounced by the International Declaration against the `Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil' (RSPO) ( monoculture oil palm plantations "replace tropical forests and other ecosystems, leading to serious deforestation together with loss of biodiversity, flooding, the worsening of droughts, soil erosion, pollution of water courses and the apparition of pests due to a breakdown in the ecological balance and to changes in food chains". Additionally, monoculture oil palm plantations "also endanger the conservation of water, soil, flora and fauna. Forest degradation diminishes their climatic functions and their disappearance affects humanity as a whole."

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Forests identified as causes of deforestation and forest degradation governmental policies to replace forests with industrial tree plantations – such as oil palm – in addition to the advance of the agricultural frontier, pushed forward by monoculture tree plantations. Nevertheless, in the Montes Azules region, where deforestation has reached 80 percent of the 220 thousand hectares of forest, the government is talking of creating "protection belts through high impact production projects, such as oil palm," among others.

Oil palm plantations have not improved the living conditions of the population but worsened them. One of the serious problems that they cause is related to water. Faced with no supply of drinking water, the over 11 thousand people who live in the municipality of Marques de Comillas in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve mainly consume water from wells from groundwater sources. Oil palm plantations, great consumers of water, jeopardize the availability of water in the region. They also use large quantities of agrochemicals: insecticides such as endosulphan and other chemicals, including rodenticides that end up in the water courses. Hurricanes make the problem more serious when they cause the rivers to overflow, as is the case in the Lacandona forest with the Lacantun River, which contaminates the local farmers' subsistence crops and scatters agrochemicals in an area of rich biodiversity.

According to studies by the Chiapas Produce Foundation, the income of "an average ejido farmer with seven hectares and an average production of 19 tons per hectare" is the equivalent of 274 pesos (21 dollars) per day, that is to say, less than the Mexican minimum wage per hectare. Within the annual investment to establish one hectare of palm trees, the technological package costs the farmer roughly 6,500 pesos (that is 17 pesos or 1.3 dollars per day): it includes sowing (preparation of the land, purchase of the seedlings, weed control, clearing of paths, application of weed-killers, manual plantation), fertilization, pest control, pruning, equipment and services. One third of the cost is allocated to weed-killers, fertilizers and rodenticides. Furthermore, for the first three years there is no production or harvest and only as from the eighth year can 100 percent be harvested.

The farmers working for an oil palm processing company are usually trapped in this situation. The Extraction Plant of the Palma Tica de Mexico company offered seedlings to the farmers, on credit, under the condition that they sold all their harvest to the company. In many cases the farmers have neither the training nor the appropriate tools to harvest; in other cases they do not have the training or the technical advice for overall cultivation, control and management of the plantations. Very often the indigenous or peasant farmers selling to oil processing companies are not protected by purchase contracts or agreements, or insurance. This implies that if the company does not want to buy their production, they are not obliged to do so. There are no price differences in relation to the quality of the product being delivered.

In 2008, a group of workers from the AGROIMSA oil plant in the municipality of Mapastepec were repressed by public forces and an advisor and several leaders were arrested, some of them remaining in prison. They were also laid off which led to a labour dispute.

Moreover, oil palm plantations exclude other types of production. In the municipality of Villa Comaltitlan, one of the main cattle raising areas together with other coastal municipalities, it has been confirmed that the drop in cattle raising "was not due to negligence on the part of the farmers, but rather to the arrival of other crops that cannot be combined with cattle-raising. For example banana and oil palm plantations have taken up space, implying a drop in cattle-raising." In Chiapas monoculture palm plantations have had disastrous impacts on honey production, on which thousands of bee-keepers depend. The crisis has become more serious as the plantations increase. hey also cause other damage: in the municipality of Acapetahua, Mr. Manuel Jimenez stated that "the main culprits causing the destruction of roads and highways are the heavy goods transporters, as they cause damage with their trucks loaded with stones, cane and oil palm fruit." At the Mapastepec municipal seat, "along the ditch made to introduce drainage the land subsided (...) in the 15 September neighbourhood and now traffic is obstructed and great clouds of dust arise, affecting the health of the neighbours." Gabriel Colon and Elio Ventura, who live in this neighbourhood, have demanded that the mayor's office mend the road that has a lot of traffic, mainly trucks loaded with oil palm fruit going to the oil processing plant.

There is no doubt that great business deals are made at the expense of the poor, on their lands and territories and at the cost of humanity's common assets. Enough of monoculture plantations!

Summarized and adapted from: "La palma africana en México. Los monocultivos desastrosos", Gustavo Castro Soto, Otros Mundos, AC/Amigos de la Tierra México,
12 June 2009. The complete article may be accessed at:


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biofuelwatch - Press Release: NGOs Denounce Corporate Greenwashing

Press Release and Media Advisory

NGOs Denounce Corporate Greenwashing:

`No to Dubious Biotech-fixes for Climate Change'

Montreal, 16 July 2009. Several groups including Greenpeace, ETC Group and Biofuelwatch are warning that the biotech lobby will mount a major green-washing public relations exercise during the Sixth Annual Conference on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing that will be held at the Montreal Convention Center (19-22 July 2009).

During the Conference, the biotech industry will present various untested biotechnology innovations as solutions to climate change. "The biotech industry is seeking massive public and private investment for their untested technologies, whose health and environmental impacts have not been fully examined. Rather than be duped by yet another green mirage, governments should invest in real solutions to climate change and get serious about reducing CO2 emissions and commit to solutions that we know work -- like energy saving," says Eric Darier, Director of Greenpeace in Quebec.

The new face of the biotech industry is being made over using nanotechnology and synthetic biology to produce cosmetically "clean energy" that will replace fossil fuels. "Technologies which transform plant cellulose into fuel are part of a massive industrial grab on `biomass' – basically all living matter now found in forests, agricultural land and even our oceans," claims Jim Thomas from the international new-technology watchdog, ETC Group. "The consequences on biodiversity, sustainable agriculture, farmers and forests world-wide are devastating."

"Proponents of these technologies assume there is enough biomass to feed and fuel an expanding population. But the demand for plant biomass will be so vast it threatens to defoliate the surface of the planet just as we are recognizing the critical role of ecosystems in regulating climate," explains Rachel Smolker, PhD, of Biofuelwatch. "The problems with corn ethanol, which NGOs warned about three years ago, were only the tip of the iceberg!"

Breakfast Media Briefing

Monday 20th July 2009 - 7:30 am to 8:45 am

Éric Darier (Greenpeace) Strategic Technological Assessment before it is too late

Jim Thomas (ETC Group) The Techno-hype of the New Sugar-based Economy

Rachel Smolker (Biofuelwatch) The Ecological Consequences of Industry's Assault on Biomass

Location: very near the Convention center

(exact location will be given after registration that is mandatory)

Reply to:


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biofuelwatch - 11 leading national experts reach consensus on beneficial biofuels

Public release date: 16-Jul-2009

Contact: Patty Mattern
University of Minnesota

11 leading national experts reach consensus on beneficial biofuels

"Done right," biofuels can be produced in large quantities and have multiple benefits, but only if they come from feedstocks produced with low life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions, as well as minimal competition with food production. This consensus emerges in a new journal article by researchers from the University of Minnesota, Princeton, MIT and the University of California, Berkeley.

"The world needs to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, but recent findings have thrown the emerging biofuels industry into a quandary. We met to seek solutions," said the U of M's David Tilman, a noted ecologist and lead author of the paper. "We found that the next generation of biofuels can be highly beneficial if produced properly."

The article, "Beneficial Biofuels—The Food, Energy and Environment Trilemma," will appear in the July 17 issue of Science. Tilman, a resident fellow of the U of M's Institute on the Environment, said the paper resulted from a year of conversations and debate among some of the nation's leading biofuel experts.

In addition to Tilman, the article contributors include the U of M's Jonathan Foley and Jason Hill; Princeton's Robert Socolow, Eric Larson, Stephen Pacala, Tim Searchinger and Robert Williams; Dartmouth's Lee Lynd; MIT's John Reilly; and the University of California, Berkeley's Chris Somerville.

The paper coincides with climate change policy debates in Congress, and tackles land use issues that have generated much controversy in recent years: Specifically, the greenhouse gases released when land is cleared to grow biofuel crops (or when other lands are cleared to compensate for food crops displaced by biofuel crops) can—for decades to centuries—exceed those from petroleum use.

"It's essential that legislation take the best science into account, even when that requires acknowledging and undoing earlier mistakes," said Princeton's Socolow, co-director of the Carbon Mitigation Initiative.

"Careful scientific reasoning revealed accounting rules that separate promising from self-defeating strategies," added Socolow. "Future carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere will tell us when we're kidding ourselves about what actually works. For carbon management, the atmosphere is the ultimate accountant."

To balance biofuel production, food security and emissions reduction, the authors conclude that the global biofuels industry must focus on five major sources of renewable biomass:
  • Perennial plants grown on degraded lands abandoned from agricultural use
  • Crop residues
  • Sustainably harvested wood and forest residues
  • Double crops and mixed cropping systems
  • Municipal and industrial wastes

These sources can provide considerable amounts of biomass, at least 500 million tons per year in the United States alone, without incurring any significant land use carbon dioxide releases.

"We need to transition away from using food for biofuels toward more sustainable feedstocks that can be produced with much less impact on the environment," said the U of M's Hill, a resident fellow of the Institute on the Environment.

The U of M's Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment, said the consensus reached in this article is remarkable. "Technology experts, energy systems analysts, climatologists, ecologists and policy experts all agreed: Biofuels 'done right' have a bright future in solving our energy and environmental challenges. Both new and existing biofuel strategies have the potential for being among the green energy solutions we need today."


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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

biofuelwatch - Planes 'should fly on biofuels'

[Re previous Policy Exchange report see posts ##2557, 2558]

Page last updated at 02:24 GMT, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 03:24 UK

Planes 'should fly on biofuels'

Biofuel-powered Virgin Atlantic flight takes off
Virgin Atlantic are among airlines to trial flight powered by biofuel

Biofuel research should focus on planes and not cars, the think tank Policy Exchange has said.

A crop area the size of the USA would be needed to biofuel all the world's cars and alternatives, such as electricity, exist for them, it added.

Instead, it said the EU should fund research into using plant-based fuel for aviation to help cut emissions.

Sceptics say some biofuels create more carbon than they save and push up the price of food for the poor.

Most biofuels are derived from crops such as corn, sugarcane and rapeseed.
Bioethanol is usually mixed with petrol, while biodiesel is either used on its own or in a mixture.

The UK government, which is funding a £27m research centre to find economically viable alternatives to fossil fuels, says 25% of greenhouse gas emissions come from transport.

In April 2008, it introduced a "Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation", requiring 2.5% of all fuel sold at petrol stations to be biofuels, having revised its target from 5%.

Escalating emissions
The EU also changed its stipulation that 10% of transport fuel had to be from crop-based fuel, instead saying the targets could be met by any renewable source, including fuel cells, hydrogen or solar power.

Policy Exchange has previously said the government should spend its £550m annual biofuel subsidies on halting the destruction of rainforests and peatland, which remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Now the centre-right think tank says the EU should switch policy to subsidising development of biofuels for aviation because planes cannot run on other sources of energy.

Airlines including Virgin Atlantic have trialled flights using up to 20% biofuel to power the engines, although climate change campaigners say use of the fuel is not sustainable.

Policy Exchange claims using biofuels is the only way in the foreseeable future to meet people's desire to travel without escalating emissions of greenhouse gases.

Airlines should be mandated to blend biofuel with kerosene in increasing quantities from 2020, it believes.

By this time new generation crop-based fuels should have been developed which do not compete with food crops.

Green groups have been critical of the destruction of rainforest to create the fuels and the resultant loss of habitat for rare species.

They also say that with more farmland being turned over to grow profitable biofuels, food production has fallen and pushed up global prices, affecting supplies for the poorest people.


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biofuelwatch - Better Article On Shark 'Biofuel'

Hi all,

Here is a different article that you can share with others that contains the same alarming subject matter on 'biofuel' from sharks, without the inane quotes from WWF that sharks are 'mammals'...

Researchers at the Arctic Technology Center in Sisimiut in Western Greenland are on their way to producing biofuel from sharks’ oily flesh. A lot of research and experiments are being undertaken for this purpose. The pilot project funded by the EU in Uummannaq will use shark’s meat blended with wastewater and macro-algae to form a fish mince to be further used to produce biofuel. Thousands of Greenland sharks already lose their lives being trapped into the deadly nets of the anglers. Hence, it’s a sensible way to utilize the decaying bodies.

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biofuelwatch - Energy crops for biogas - developments in UK

Amaziing maize from Norfolk could set records


Last updated: 18/07/2009 11:01:00

New varieties of purpose-bred energy maize are on trial across eastern England, including at a site near Norwich.

The trials involve plant breeders KWS and Masstock and will examine varieties' potential for biogas production.

Maize specialist John Burgess said the German plant breeder has had a specialist energy maize breeding programme for nearly a decade. Initially, it involved gigantic, South American material with delayed flowering, capable of producing high yields and 10,000 cub m of methane per hectare.

Farmers in Germany, who have more than 4,000 on-farm biogas plants feeding their national grid, have drilled the crop with enthusiasm. Every hectare of maize provides the electricity to power five houses per year.

Mr Burgess said: "Our aim in the UK is to provide growers with the right types for their specific region, in line with renewable energy obligations, once they start to kick in."

The company claims that new types - now on trial at Taverham - can produce fresh weight yields of up to 70t/ha, or nearly a third higher than the best forage maize varieties. Most successful types are late maturing and have a large, but robust, plant structure. "We specifically select for hybrids displaying good stability, with buttress roots that are longer and stronger than others, preventing collapse," said Mr Burgess.

Fermentation studies show that highest biogas production comes from those varieties where the proportion of cob is at least 45pc of the total maize plant yield, as opposed to purely green stover.

KWS will be holding farmer open days later this summer. Details from John at

Giant Maize Types in UK Bio-gas Trials

16th July 2009

KWS-UK is trialling a range of purpose-bred energy maize varieties at a number of sites across the UK.

The work - in partnership with Masstock and a number of farmers in the East of England – aims to examine their potential for bio-gas production.

John Burgess with bio-gas variety Ronaldinio (right) and standard maize (left)

John Burgess with bio-gas variety Ronaldinio (right) and standard maize (left)

According to the company’s UK maize specialist, John Burgess, the German plant breeder has had a specialist energy maize breeding programme for nearly ten years.

The work initially featured gigantic, South American material with delayed flowering that produced very high yields and 10,000 cubic metres of methane/ha.

German growers have been quick to realise this potential and there are now over 4000 on-farm biogas plants feeding their national grid. Every hectare down to maize provides sufficient electricity to power 5 houses per annum.

“Our aim is in the UK is to provide growers with the right types for their specific region, in line with Renewable Energy Obligations, once they start to kick in,” says Mr Burgess.

The company claim that new types – currently in the trials – can produce fresh weight yields of up to 70t/ha - 30% higher than the best forage maize varieties.

Most successful types are late maturing and have a very large, but robust plant structure. “We specifically select for hybrids displaying good stability, with buttress roots that are longer and stronger than other, preventing collapse,” says John.

Fermentation studies show that highest bio-gas production comes from those energy maize varieties where the proportion of cob is at least 45% of the total maize plant yield, as opposed to purely green stover.

Pictured is the variety Ronaldinio – (left) equivalent to NIAB Group 4/5, alongside a standard forage maize. The company also has hybrids equivalent to Group 3 and Group 6 maturity classes in trial.

Masstock trials are specifically looking at the optimum seed rates for maximum bio-gas production from these giant maize varieties.

KWS continues to test standard forage maize varieties across the UK and will be holding a range of farmer open days later this summer. For more information, contact John Burgess at


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Monday, July 20, 2009

biofuelwatch - shark fuel

(sharks are NOT mammals!)

Greenland shark may become new source of biofuel
By Slim Allagui (AFP) - 13 hours ago

SISIMIUT, Greenland - The Greenland shark, one of the largest species of sharks, is a nuisance to fishermen and its meat is toxic to humans, but researchers now hope the flesh can be used to create a biofuel for Inuits.

Native to the cold Arctic waters, thousands of the sharks get caught and die in fishermen's nets off Greenland every year. The beasts -- which can be compared to the Great White Shark in size at seven metres (23 feet) and can weigh up to a tonne -- are thrown back into the sea.

But at the Arctic Technology Centre (ARTEK) in Sisimiut in western Greenland, researchers are experimenting with ways of using the animal's oily flesh to produce biogas out of fishing industry waste.

"I think this is an alternative where we can use the thousands of tonnes of leftovers of products from the sea, including those of the numerous sharks," says Marianne Willemoes Joergensen of ARTEK's branch at the Technical University of Denmark.

Joergensen, in charge of the pilot project based in the Uummannaq village in northwestern Greenland, says the shark meat, when mixed with macro-algae and household wastewater, could "serve as biomass for biofuel production."

"Biofuel is the best solution for this kind of organic waste, which can be used to produce electricity and heating with a carbon neutral method," she said.

Biofuel based on sharks and other sea products could supply 13 percent of energy consumption in the village of Uummannaq with its 2,450 inhabitants, according to estimates.

The project could help the many isolated villages on the vast island to become self-sufficient in terms of energy.

Joergensen plans to run tests next year at an organic waste treatment plant in a project financed by the EU in Uummannaq, using shark meat mixed with wastewater and macro-algae to create a fish mince that can be used to produce biogas.

In Uummannaq, the Greenland shark represents more than half of the waste disposed of by the local fishermen.

"Entire trawlers are sometimes full of sharks and they are caught everywhere, especially off the east and west of Greenland, to the fishermen's great dismay," says Bo Lings who used to work on a big trawler.

"It's a large predator that devours fish, squid, seals and other marine life, and it also ruins the lines and nets of the halibut fishermen," adds Leif Fontaine, the head of Greenland's fishing and hunting association.

Fishing is Greenland's biggest export industry, with halibut its second-biggest product after shrimp.

The shark, which Inuits once hunted for its razor-like teeth that they used to make knives and for its liver oil that was used to light homes, has "become a problem for the environment."

"There are too many sharks in the nets and they just get thrown back," explains one of ARTEK's founders, engineer Joern Hansen.

Greenlanders usually dispose of fishing industry waste and household wastewater by throwing them into the sea.

In the Uummannaq municipality, over half of all the waste contains large amounts of fat that are suitable for producing biofuels in the future, and Hansen says that waste should be put to good use.

"All you have to do is set up installations in the fish processing centres, like in Ilulissat where the shrimp and halibut plant is partly heated by fish waste," he said.

Aksel Blytmann, a consultant at Greenland's fishing and hunting association, says the shark could turn out to be an "unexpected energy source."

He explained that Uummannaq once paid a 200-Danish-kroner (26-euro, 38-dollar) reward to fishermen for a shark heart in order to keep their numbers down. Other municipalities in the northwestern and western parts of Greenland still continue this practice, he said.

The species "swarms in the Arctic waters and is not in danger of extinction," Blytmann claimed.

But the International Union for the Conservation of Nature disagrees, as does the Danish branch of the Worldwide Fund for Nature.

Anne-Marie Bjerg, a WWF specialist on ocean mammals, says the shark-for-biofuel project "is not a good idea, not at all," and wants to see other sustainable energy projects undertaken instead.

"We know very little about the Greenland shark, which lives in a limited geographic zone, the Arctic," she said.

Contrary to the fishermen's own accounts, she insisted the mammal "does not pose big problems to Greenland's fishing industry."

"We are opposed to the commercial use of marine mammals, such as the Greenland shark, which is not universal and whose population size is unknown," she said.


Rachel Smolker
Hinesburg, Vermont, U.S.A.
office: (802) 482 2848
mobile: (802) 735-7794
skype: rachel smolker


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