Monday, January 31, 2011

Shell exits algae biofuels



Biofuel Watch - Shell exits algae biofuels



<maybe to concentrate on tar sands? I heard last night an estimate of 100 years to harvest all the oil in Alberta>

Last year , Shell's chief technology officer, Gerald Schotman, told Reuters that Shell will narrow its research paths in advanced biofuels from 10 advanced technologies to five in 2011, and described 2011 as "the year of choices".

Last week [after previously exiting their investment in Choren, a Fischer-Tropsch technology based in Germany] Shell announced that it will will exit its shareholding in Cellana, a joint venture between Shell and HR Biopetroleum. Today, HRBP will become the sole owner of Cellana, including its six-acre demonstration facility in Kona, Hawaii.

To support the transition, Shell has agreed to provide short-term funding to advance and focus the algae technology development program which is supported by stakeholders including the University of Hawaii, Hawaiian Electric Company, Maui Electric Company, the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts consortium, and the DOE.

"In keeping with Shell's portfolio approach to the research, development and commercialisation of advanced biofuels, this decision will allow Shell to focus on other options that have shown a better fit with Shell's biofuels portfolio and strategy."

more commentary at

http://biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2011/01/31/shell-exits-algae-as-it-commences-year-of-choices/


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Norwegian scientists concerned over biodiesel particulates



Biofuel Watch - Norwegian scientists concerned over biodiesel particulates



Stavanger, 18 January (Argus) — A study by Norwegian authorities has found that the amount of biodiesel used in blends for road fuel in the country poses no more harm to public health than pure fossil fuel diesel. But any increase to the mandate could heighten health concerns.

The research, which was carried out by Norway's climate and pollution agency and the Norwegian institute of public health, found that biodiesel blends of up to 7pc would lead to similar health consequences as with regular diesel. But blends of up to 20pc and different combinations of biofuels, including the use of second-generation biofuels, would require further investigation.

Norway is considering raising the blending mandate for biodiesel to 5pc from 3.5pc this year. The blending mandate is then expected to gradually increase up to 2020, while the proportion of diesel vehicles using biodiesel in the Norwegian car market will rise to 70pc from 30pc, according to some estimates.

The study was conducted after scientists in other parts of Scandinavia raised concerns that the nanoparticles found in biodiesel could cause respiratory problems and cancer.

http://www.argusmedia.com/pages/NewsBody.aspx?id=736967&menu=yes


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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Neste Oil and AngloGold in the Public Eye Pillory in Davos



Biofuel Watch - Neste Oil and AngloGold in the Public Eye Pillory in Davos



PRESS RELEASE

Davos, January 28, 2011

Neste Oil and AngloGold in the Public Eye Pillory in Davos

Within sight of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Berne Declaration (BD) and Greenpeace today denounced the particularly flagrant human rights abuses and environmental sins committed by corporations. The jury-selected Global Award was presented to the South African mining company AngloGold/Ashanti. The People's Award, determined by Internet voting, went to the Finnish agrofuel concern Neste Oil. Over 50,000 people took part in the online voting. Also during the press conference, OpenLeaks co-founder Daniel Domscheit-Berg called for more transparency and ethics from the business world.

With the 2011 Public Eye Awards, BD and Greenpeace "reward" two corporations that exemplify those WEF members and enterprises whose social and environmental offenses expose the flip side of purely profit-oriented globalization. For the contamination of land and poisoning of people from gold mining in Ghana, the South African mining corporation AngloGold/Ashanti receives the jury-selected Public Eye Global Award. In his laudatory address in Davos, Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, President of the nominating organization WACAM, told of mining waste that contaminates rivers and wells, from which entire villages must drink. In addition, local residents were occasionally tortured in the company's guard house; some cases resulted in fatalities.

For the Web-based Public Eye People's Award, mobilizing more than twice as many voters this year as in 2010, Neste Oil cleaned up with 17'385 votes, thus relegating BP (13'000) and Philip Morris (8'052) to runners-up. The Finnish biofuel producer – and soon the world's largest palm oil purchaser – sells bio-diesel Europe-wide under the shameless name "Green Diesel." The huge jump in demand for palm oil fuels rain forest destruction in Indonesia and Malaysia, threatening the remaining refuges of the already endangered orangutan.

With the looming "shame award" on the horizon, Finnair has attempted to distance itself at the last minute from a planned major project with Neste kerosene.

The sponsoring and nominating organizations of the Public Eye Awards have long been calling on governments to implement legally-binding rules for more corporate responsibility. Therefore civil society welcomes the framework outlined by John Ruggie, U.N. Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, that calls for state protection, corporate respect, and legal help for victims, and which will be adopted by the Human Rights Council in mid-2011. According to Ruggie, only through systematic "knowing and showing" will corporations be able to avoid future cases of public "naming and shaming" like that meted out by the Public Eye.

The co-founder of the OpenLeaks project, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, would also like to see more transparency and ethics in corporations. "Both meet a fast-growing societal need," says the former WikiLeaks spokesperson. In the success of digital whistle-blowing, Domscheit-Berg sees "a powerful signal to the business world: Those who do not proactively establish transparency top-down, run an increased risk that it will be created, bottom-up, by whistle-blowers."

Further information at www.publiceye.ch


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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

BP, Chevron, Morgan Stanley Miss Voluntary U.K. Biofuels Targets



Biofuel Watch - BP, Chevron, Morgan Stanley Miss Voluntary U.K. Biofuels Targets





BP, Chevron, Morgan Stanley Miss Voluntary U.K. Biofuels Targets 2011-01-26 13:41:21.316 GMT


By Alex Morales

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- BP Plc, Morgan Stanley and Chevron Corp. were among six biofuels suppliers to miss all three of the U.K. government's voluntary sustainability targets last year, the Renewable Fuels Agency said today in an e-mailed report.

The three other companies to miss the goals on greenhouse- gas cuts, sustainable sourcing of feedstock for the biofuels and data reporting were Ineos Group Holdings Plc, Murco Petroleum
Ltd. and Total SA, according to the report. Prax Petroleum Ltd. didn't supply a verified annual report, it said.

The U.K. is increasing the use of biofuels from crops to replace petroleum and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. At the same time, European nations are trying to allay concerns about deforestation and emissions associated with growing the crops by introducing standards that may be implemented in the U.K. this year, according to today's report.

"Companies currently missing all three targets need to make a step change in performance," Renewable Fuels Agency Chief Executive Officer Nick Goodall said in the statement. "We've seen some progress from suppliers in meeting the challenge of sourcing their biofuels responsibly but in many cases it has been disappointingly slow."

About 1.57 billion liters (414 million gallons) of biofuels were supplied in the year through mid-April 2010, taking up 3.33 percent of road transport fuels and beating the 3.25-percent government target, the agency said. That goal is rising up to 5 percent by 2013 as the U.K. seeks to source 15 percent of energy, including heat and electricity, from renewables by 2020.

Greenergy Fuels Ltd., Lissan Coal Co., Mabanaft U.K. Ltd. and Topaz Energy Ltd. all met the three sustainability targets, according to today's report.

For Related News and Information:
Top environment stories: GREEN <GO>
Most-read environmental news: MNI ENV <GO>
Renewable Energy Stories: NI ALTNRG <GO>

--Editors: Randall Hackley, Todd White

To contact the reporter on this story:
Alex Morales in London at +44-20-7330-7718 or
amorales2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at +44-20-7330-7862 or
landberg@bloomberg.net


Rachel Smolker
Biofuelwatch/Energy Justice Network
802.482.2848 (o)
802.735 7794 (m)
skype: Rachel Smolker

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Genetically Engineered Trees for Agrofuels: Controvery Intensifies



Biofuel Watch - Genetically Engineered Trees for Agrofuels: Controvery Intensifies



Begin forwarded message:

From: Global Justice Ecology Project <contact@globaljusticeecology.org>
Date: January 25, 2011 2:05:57 PM EST

Global Justice Ecology Project
Stop Genetically Engineered Trees Campaign

Genetically Engineered Trees (GE Trees) for Agrofuels: The Controvery Intensifies

by Anne Petermann
 
In the past two days, two conflicting articles have addressed the use of trees, and especially GE trees, for the production of liquid agrofuels (cellulosic ethanol).

 

The first article Range Fuels Closing Cellulosic Ethanol Plant announced that Range Fuels is shutting down its Georgia-based cellulosic ethanol plant after completing only one batch of cellulosic ethanol (also known as second generation ethanol).  The company cited the financial crisis and technological hurdles as the reason for shutting down despite $300 million in state, federal and private investments.

 

The second article, Court challenges stall new biofuel crops from the DesMoines Register, trumpets the advantages of trees for making second generation cellulosic fuels, but notes that restrictions on the use of genetically engineered trees is hampering their use.

 

One particularly interesting quote comes from John Heissenbuttel, co-director of the so-called Council for Sustainable Biomass Production, who states, "I do not see how we're going to make the advancements that we need to make without biotechnology."

 

To read the entire article, click here.



Global Justice Ecology Project explores and exposes the intertwined root causes of social injustice, ecological destruction and economic domination with the aim of building bridges between social justice, environmental justice and ecological justice groups to strengthen their collective efforts.  Within this framework, our programs focus on Indigenous Peoples' rights, protection of native forests and climate justice.  We use the issue of climate change to demonstrate these interconnections. Global Justice Ecology Project is the North American Focal Point of the Global Forest Coalition.

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Alternative Fuels Don’t Benefit the Military - New report



Biofuel Watch - Alternative Fuels Don’t Benefit the Military - New report



New York Times: January 25, 2011

The United States would derive no meaningful military benefit from increased use of alternative fuels to power its jets, ships and other weapons systems, according to a government-commissioned study by the RAND Corporation scheduled for release Tuesday.

The report also argued that most alternative-fuel technologies were unproven, too expensive or too far from commercial scale to meet the military's needs over the next decade.

In particular, the report argued that the Defense Department was spending too much time and money exploring experimental biofuels derived from sources like algae or the flowering plant camelina, and that more focus should be placed on energy efficiency as a way of combating greenhouse gas emissions.
...

The analysis has irked environmental groups and biofuels proponents, who argued that RAND had underestimated the commercial viability of algae and overestimated the availability and efficacy of carbon capture and storage technology.

Full story at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/25/business/energy-environment/25fuel.html.

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Brian Tokar
Institute for Social Ecology
P.O. Box 93
Plainfield, VT 05667
www.social-ecology.org

* My 2 new books:
http://www.akpress.org/2010/items/towardclimatejustice
http://www.monthlyreview.org/books/agriculturefood.php

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Monday, January 24, 2011

15% ethanol approved for more US cars



Biofuel Watch - 15% ethanol approved for more US cars




Date: January 23, 2011 7:43:24 AM EST
Subject: New blend of ethanol approved for use in more cars

New blend of ethanol approved for use in more cars
http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20110122/BUSINESS01/101220320/?odyssey=nav|head
12:21 AM, Jan. 22, 2011

Written by
DAN PILLER

Corn stands ready for harvest near the Hawkeye Renewables ethanol plant near Menlo in October 2008. More than half of Iowa's harvested corn crop is ground for use in ethanol. Iowa is the nation's largest ethanol producer. / John Gaps III/Register file photo.
The government has cleared more cars to use more ethanol, but motorists probably won't see a new 15 percent blend at the pumps until April or later.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved expanding the allowable ethanol blend of 10 percent for cars from 2001 model and newer to 15 percent. The ruling allows the higher blend for about two-thirds of the vehicles on the road.

But retailers can't sell the new blend until the EPA comes up with a pump label, and agency spokeswoman Catherine Milburn said that is not likely to be ready until April.

Even then, retailers have to sort out issues with insurance and other regulations, as well as reconfigure their pumps and tanks.

"When everything is cleared, we'll sell E15, but we just don't know how soon that will be," said Randy Meyer, vice president for fuels at Kum & Go, the largest dispenser of ethanol in Iowa.

The EPA also must defend itself against a lawsuit filed late last year by automobile manufacturers, who contend that the expanded blend threatens warranties in their vehicles.

Still, the EPA decision was the second big win in a month for ethanol. Last month Congress extended the biofuel's 46-cent per gallon tax deduction for blenders, despite persistent criticism of biofuel subsidies.

Ethanol producers said they needed an expansion of the blending limit. The 13 billion gallons of ethanol produced last year was the maximum that could be blended into the 130 billion gallons of gasoline consumed annually in the United States under the old 10 percent limit.

About 80 percent of all gasoline now sold in the United States is blended with ethanol.

Federal renewable energy guidelines require use of the biofuel, and major urban centers must use ethanol during summer months as a non-fossil fuel additive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Iowa is the nation's largest ethanol producer; 41 plants produced 3.7 billion gallons of ethanol last year, about one-third of total U.S. production.

Sales of ethanol and its distiller grain feed byproduct put about $10 billion in cash annually into Iowa's economy.

Ethanol now consumes more than half of Iowa's 2.3 billion bushel corn crop, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

"We are pleased to see the EPA also realized what our industry has known for a long time - that use of higher blends of ethanol in vehicles is safe," National Corn Growers Association chairman Darrin Ihnen of South Dakota said.

The EPA decision expands on its ruling last October that allowed E15 into vehicles of 2007 model year or newer.

The ruling applies only to automobiles and light trucks. Manufacturers of small engines for boats, lawn mowers and power tools had objected, saying the higher ethanol blend had potential to damage engines.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association said of the decision: "We continue to be concerned that the EPA does not plan to take significant steps to address anticipated problems with consumer confusion and the risk of misfueling."

Livestock producers also oppose greater use of ethanol. Their concerns about higher feed costs have been sharpened by the rise in corn prices from $3.50 per bushel last June to $6.50 this week.

"It's very disappointing that the administration made this decision given the rising price of corn and the lower estimate for this year's corn harvest that recently was announced," said Randy Spronk, a hog and crop farmer from Edgerton, Minn., who serves on the National Pork Producers' board of directors.

The decision Friday came against the backdrop of a boom in grain and livestock commodity prices that has raised forecasts of food price inflation in the United States and around the world.

The corn markets treated the EPA decision casually Friday, raising the price of corn just 3 cents per bushel to $6.57 on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Analyst Arlan Suderman of Farm Futures Magazine said the impact of the decision in the trading pits was blunted "thanks to lawsuits, labeling issues and the need to convince service stations to install blender pumps."

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, whose agency is responsible for ensuring that gasoline pumps are properly labeled, said the department would work to smooth the transition.

"I hope Iowans will use E15," he said.

Dawn Carlson, president of the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores of Iowa, said: "There will be challenges with increasing blends of alternative energies, and we do not anticipate an immediate switch to E15 in Iowa, but we are working through those issues and want to assure Iowans of a safe consistent supply of fuel."

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BP says biofuels growth will outpace oil in 2011-2030 period



Biofuel Watch - BP says biofuels growth will outpace oil in 2011-2030 period




BP says biofuels growth will outpace oil in 2011-2030 period

Jim Lane January 24, 2011 0 Comments

In the UK, BP published for the first time a summary of its forward-looking analyses. In Energy Outlook 2030, BP projects that primary energy use will grow by nearly 40% over the next twenty years, with 93% of the growth coming from non-OECD (Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. Non-OECD countries are seen to rapidly increase their share of overall energy demand from just over half currently to two-thirds.  The report projects that, between 2010 to 2030, the contribution to energy growth of renewables (solar, wind, geothermal and biofuels) is seen to increase from 5% to 18%.

Global liquids demand is forecast to reach 102.4 million barrels per day (mmbpd) in 2030. The net growth of 16.5 mmbpd over the next 20 years comes exclusively from the emerging economies of the non-OECD. Biofuels production is expected to reach 6.7 mmbpd by 2030 from 1.8 mmbpd in 2010 and will contribute 125% of net non-OPEC supply growth over the next 20 years. Continued policy support, high oil prices, and continued technological innovations all contribute to the rapid expansion. The US and Brazil will continue to dominate biofuel production with 76% of total output in 2010 but falling to 68% in 2030 as output from Asia-Pacific begins to rise.





Rachel Smolker
Biofuelwatch/Energy Justice Network
802.482.2848 (o)
802.735 7794 (m)
skype: Rachel Smolker



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Teesside biofuels firm spends £6m to tackle bad smell



Biofuel Watch - Teesside biofuels firm spends £6m to tackle bad smell



 


Teesside biofuels firm spends £6m to tackle bad smell

Ensus Wilton Ensus opened its Wilton facility in 2009

 

A biofuels company on Teesside has pledged to spend £6m on ridding its plant of a bad smell which has sparked complaints from residents.

Ensus opened its bioethanol plant at Wilton in 2009. But since March 2010 residents have complained of a brewery-like smell coming from the facility.

Managers have admitted there is a problem and plan to install £6m equipment to ease the situation.

The Environment Agency is now considering the firm's proposals.

Ensus plans to install a series of thermal oxidisers which it says will go some way to eliminating the odour, which is produced when the plant converts wheat into fuel that can then be mixed with petrol.

By-products are then used to produce animal feed and carbon dioxide for the soft drinks industry.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: "Smells from Ensus have been reported to us since March 2010.

"In September 2010, following enforcement action from the agency, Ensus announced it would be spending £6m on regenerative thermal oxidisers to minimise smells.

"Before this can happen, Ensus must apply to the Environment Agency to change its environmental permit.

"We are giving residents the chance to comment and raise any concerns they have, including noise, effect on air quality and odour."

The consultation period will end on 17 February.
 
[Ends]
 
 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tees-12261985

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IUFRO: REDD ignoring drivers of deforestation



Biofuel Watch - IUFRO: REDD ignoring drivers of deforestation



1.
Forest accords not saving trees, experts
NEW YORK — International accords on saving vulnerable forests are having little impact because they do not attack the core causes such as growing demand for biofuels and food crops, a new report said.

With Africa and South American alone losing 7.4 million hectares (18.3 million acres) of forest a year, the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) said a drastic change of policy is needed by the United Nations and governments.

Sixty international experts said in the report, to be presented at a UN forum this week, that too much attention is being put on forests as a store of carbon dioxide, the main gas blamed for global warming.

Deforestation accounts for about a quarter of the global greenhouse gas emissions each year which are blamed for rising temperatures. Live trees act as a sponge for carbon but give it off when they decay or are burned.

"Our findings suggest that disregarding the impact on forests of sectors such as agriculture and energy will doom any new international efforts whose goal is to conserve forests and slow climate change," said Jeremy Rayner of the University of Saskatchewan and chairman of the IUFRO report panel.

Even the most recent UN backed initiative, Reducing Deforestation in Developing countries (REDD) is criticized because the panel said it seeks a single global solution.
The experts said that REDD and other international accords should concentrate on helping known as REDD, should focus more on supporting regional and national efforts to save the forests at risk.

"Unless all sectors work together to address the impact of global consumption, including growing demand for food and biofuels, and problems of land scarcity, REDD will fail to arrest environmental degradation and will heighten poverty," said Constance McDermott of Oxford University?s Environmental Change Institute.

The experts praised initiatives in Asia and Europe which they said should be copied elsewhere.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has developed a regional standard for monitoring illegal logging and also set up a special system for forest-related research.
"The hope is that such a process will allow decision-makers to learn from the mistakes of the past," said the IUFRO report.

Among other "bright spots", IUFRO pointed to a US law which makes it illegal to import wood known to come from stolen timber.

The European Union is making a similar effort to halt illegal wood imports through "due diligence" investigations, which has led to partnerships with major exporters such as Cameroon.
Brazil, long the target of an international campaign to reverse its forest destruction, has enacted new environmental and policy reforms that have the potential to slow forest loss in the Amazon Basin, IUFRO said.

The report is to be presented to the UN Forum on Forests this week as part of the launch of the International Year of Forests.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ipQAFI6nUV7b028Uy9KlCGdvWBTA?docId=CNG.3d70bb040bdfdd29691ee978be81fc1a.5c1



2.

UN climate plans said too narrow to save forests

Mon Jan 24, 2011 5:27am GMT
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
OSLO (Reuters) - World efforts to slow deforestation should do more to address underlying causes such as rising demand for crops or biofuels, widening from a U.N. focus on using trees to fight climate change, a study said on Monday.

It said a series of projects to protect forests had had limited success in recent decades -- U.N. figures show that 13 million hectares (32 million acres) of forest were lost every year from 2000-09, an area equivalent to the size of Greece.

The report by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) suggested that the current U.N.-led efforts to protect forests had too narrow a focus on promoting trees as stores of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.

"Our findings suggest that disregarding the impact of forests on sectors such as agriculture and energy will doom any new international efforts whose goal is to conserve forests and slow climate change," said Jeremy Rayner, who chaired the IUFRO panel and is a professor at the University of Saskatchewan.

Deforestation accounts for perhaps 10 percent of all emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities. Trees soak up carbon as they grow but release it when they burn or decay.

The IUFRO study said a key problem was that deforestation, from the Amazon to the Congo, was often caused by economic pressures far away. A popular global brand of cookies, for instance, uses palm oil grown on deforested land in Indonesia.

COMPLEXITY
IUFRO urged policies of "embracing complexity" to help protect forests, including educating consumers, rather than rely on a one-size-fits-all mechanism such as carbon storage.
It called for better efforts, for instance, to aid indigenous peoples, whose livelihoods depend on healthy forests.

Among promising measures were amendments to the U.S. Lacey Act, which makes it illegal to import wood known to come from stolen timber. Brazil, for instance, has enacted procedures to tackle deforestation in the Amazon, it said.

The IUFRO report will be issued at U.N. talks in New York this week marking the start of the U.N.'s International Year of Forests.

Almost 200 nations agreed at a meeting in Cancun, Mexico, last month to step up efforts to protect forests with a plan that aims to put a price on the carbon stored in trees, while helping indigenous peoples and promoting sustainable use.

Authors of the IUFRO study said that the U.N. plan, known as REDD+, was promising. "Our worry is that this won't be enough," Benjamin Cashore, a forestry expert at Yale University and an IUFRO author, told Reuters.

He said that governments often simplistically placed too much faith in the lastest idea, like carbon markets.

He said many past schemes had failed to brake deforestation, such as boycotts of some timber in the 1980s by rich consumers, or an international tropical timber agreement that sought to unite producers and consumers.
Michelle Geis
mgeis@burnesscommunications.com
254-701-709-790
International Union of Forest Research Organizations

New study suggests global pacts like REDD ignore primary causes of destruction of forests

NEW YORK (24 January 2010)—A new study issued today by some of the world's top experts on forest governance finds fault with a spate of international accords, and helps explain their failure to stop rampant destruction of the world's most vulnerable forests. The report suggests that global efforts have too often ignored local needs, while failing to address the most fundamental challenge to global forest management—that deforestation usually is caused by economic pressures imposed from outside the forests.

"Our findings suggest that disregarding the impact on forests of sectors such as agriculture and energy will doom any new international efforts whose goal is to conserve forests and slow climate change," said Jeremy Rayner, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan Graduate School of Public Policy and chair of the panel of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) that produced the new assessment. "With this report in hand, we can say with greater certainty that the success of current efforts to protect forests through a global climate change agreement will depend in part on whether negotiators integrate these findings into their policy proposals."

The product of some 60 experts in political science, policy studies, law and international relations, the new report represents the most comprehensive scientific assessment to date of international forest governance. The detailed results of the work of the expert panel, which was constituted under the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and coordinated by IUFRO, will be presented next week to the Ninth Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) as part of the launch of the International Year of Forests.

Rayner and others on the IUFRO panel argue in an accompanying policy brief that the report's findings suggest the need for a dramatic shift away from "top-down" efforts to protect forests. Instead, they say, most international initiatives, including the recent global pact under discussion, known as REDD, should focus more on supporting regional and national efforts to impact the forces that are putting the forests at risk.

The new assessment of international efforts to improve forest governance is being released as the United Nations prepares to launch the International Year of Forests at the Forum on Forests in New York. The report will explain why tropical forests remain at great risk, despite adoption of initiatives such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and global boycotts of tropical timber. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization's Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010, for example, South America lost 4 million hectares per year, while Africa lost 3.4 million hectares annually between 2000 and 2010.

To address such dilemmas, many groups have embraced REDD as a cure-all for addressing a variety of forest-related problems, primarily for its potential to bring new money to poor forested regions through payments for environmental services. REDD—which stands for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation—is the effort formally negotiated in December 2010 at the Cancun climate change conference.

Although the authors cite some successful examples of efforts to slow destruction of forests, it is argued in the report that REDD shows signs of repeating many of the mistakes of the past. Even an expanded REDD effort, known as REDD+, falls short of considering the needs and roles of forest communities and other local inhabitants. "REDD+ is an improvement, as it names forest conservation as a goal and sustainable forest management as a solution," Rayner said, "But it continues to explicitly value carbon storage above the improvement of forest conditions and livelihoods."

In their policy brief drawing on the results of the new assessment, the editors argue that REDD is more likely to succeed if the final agreement reflects lessons learned from past efforts. This means REDD negotiators must sufficiently engage stakeholders outside the forest sector—such as in the agriculture, transportation and energy sectors—and stop an over-reliance on a "one-size-fits-all" global scheme to address situations that are vastly different from region to region and country to country.

"REDD has gone further than past global forest strategies in engaging agriculture and other key sectors. Nevertheless, there is still a long ways to go," said Constance McDermott, James Martin Senior Fellow in Forest Governance at Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute. "Unless all sectors work together to address the impact of global consumption, including growing demand for food and biofuels, and problems of land scarcity, REDD will fail to arrest environmental degradation and will heighten poverty."

McDermott notes that if REDD results in an overriding focus on protecting and pricing the carbon stored in forests this will lead to the "further exclusion of indigenous people from their forests and the criminalization of their traditional livelihoods." These concerns are heightened by the growing number of "land grabs" by governments and individuals who are motivated by a desire to take advantage of REDD's forest-based carbon credits, incidents that already are occurring without consultation with local forest users.

"International approaches that aim to transform forests into storehouses for carbon, or for biodiversity or some other narrow purpose, are inevitably going to produce disappointing results," McDermott said. "Instead of generating 'grand plans' based on the simplification of complex problems on a global scale, we might be better advised to listen and learn from existing efforts, both public and private, across multiple scales and multiple sectors."

Despite noting the pitfalls surrounding REDD and other accords in chapters devoted to the topic, the report reflects optimism that conditions are ripe for reducing forest destruction worldwide, and with an international effort playing an important role.

The positive forces include an unprecedented amount of attention worldwide to the problem of illegal logging and a widespread acceptance of the concept of sustainable forest management. The report also cites a flurry of activity driven by NGOs to give local communities in many forested regions—and, in particular, indigenous groups and women—a stronger voice in forest planning processes.

Meanwhile, the IUFRO analysis finds many bright spots of forest governance work at the regional and national level. For example, the US, through its amendments to a law known as the Lacey Act, has made it illegal to import wood known to come from stolen timber. The EU is making a similar effort to exclude illegal wood from imports through its "due diligence" process that has forged important partnerships with major tropical timber producers like Cameroon. Brazil, long the target of an international campaign to reverse its forest destruction, has enacted new environmental and policy reforms that have the potential to slow forest loss in the Amazon Basin.

An example of a good start can be found within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which has engaged in a number of forest-related activities, including developing a regional standard for monitoring illegal logging and establishing a clearing house for assisting member states with forest-related research. The hope is that such a process will allow decision-makers to learn from the mistakes of the past.

The report also points out that many national actions have had an international component. The US and EU actions on illegal wood imports occurred in the wake of intensive advocacy efforts from NGOs. NGOs also played a strong role in Brazil's reforms. In addition, political support for forest reforms enacted in Guatemala was boosted by the fact that they were based on concepts widely embraced at the international level.

"We are not saying we need to abandon a global approach to forest governance, but we do need to establish the appropriate roles," said Rayner, chair of the IUFRO panel that produced the report. "The REDD process, for example, might provide a great way to raise money for sustainable forest management and other forest programs, but much of the details and operational aspects would be undertaken at the regional and national levels."

Rayner and other colleagues on the expert panel believe that far more can be accomplished if there is a reassessment of the proper role of global initiatives in driving productive changes in national and local management of valuable forestland. A chapter in the report proposes the creation of a new framework called "Forests +" that would bring a more inclusive spirit to global discussions of forest governance, focus most international initiatives on supporting and coordinating national and regional efforts, and pursue global accords only when a top-down approach is broadly demanded.

"The goal of Forests+ is to solve problems by focusing on the many ways people use forests and by including from the start a broad group of stakeholders and institutions inside and outside of forests," said Benjamin Cashore, professor of environmental governance and political science at Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and director of the Yale Program on Forest Policy and Governance. "Specifically we identified new ways of having an impact that don't require a 'top down' approach. Instead they would help nurture national and local strategies that work, provide training where needed and encourage market incentives that allow consumers to pick products based on how sustainably they are produced."

Cashore added that such an approach would pave the way for efforts within the forest sector to provide transparent, accountable and problem-focused efforts that would be critical in assessing any regional or global proposal, and for moving forward toward long term solutions. In their policy brief, IUFRO experts conclude that endowing Forests+ with the prestige and "moral authority" required to succeed will involve establishing a new high-level institution or assigning the role to an existing institution or even a consortium of groups. They note that the office of the UN Secretary General has energized other related efforts by establishing special offices and advisory boards. One model for implementing a Forests+ endeavor discussed in the IUFRO report is the Secretary General Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, which has helped galvanize action around water issues.
###

The International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) is the only worldwide organization devoted to forest research and related sciences. Its members are research institutions, universities, and individual scientists as well as decision-making authorities and other stakeholders with a focus on forests and trees. For further information, please visit: www.iufro.org.


http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-01/bc-ns011911.php

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Environmental Groups Denounce False Forest Policies as UN Year of Forests Opens



Biofuel Watch - Environmental Groups Denounce False Forest Policies as UN Year of Forests Opens



Environmental Groups Denounce False Forest Policies as UN Year of Forests Opens

New York, 24 January 2011: At the opening of the 10th session of the UN Forum on Forests today in New York, which marks the opening of the UN Year of Forests, the Global Forest Coalition (1) called upon Governments to halt the continuing privatization and commodification of forests through forest carbon offsets and other false solutions to climate change.

"The recent Climate Summit in Cancun (2) produced an agreement that undermines effective forest protection by opening the door for policies and projects to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) in carbon markets", said Simone Lovera, Executive Director of the Global Forest Coalition. "The Cancun agreement did not address the main underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation, even where they clearly relate to climate change policies".

Under the guise of climate change mitigation, many governments, especially in the North, are promoting the expansion of agrofuels and industrial wood-based bio-energy. A recent report by Global Forest Coalition (3) demonstrates that these policies are major drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, as they increase the demand for wood and land and trigger the replacement of forests by monoculture tree plantations. Such plantations are misleadingly defined as forests in the Cancun climate agreement, a designation that undermines the goal of real forest protection, according to critics and forest-dwelling communities.

"Commodifying forests through carbon offset markets will not save any forests as long as the main drivers of forest loss are not addressed", explains Andrey Laletin from Friends of the Siberian Forests, Russia and moderator of the GFC Coordination group. "The increasing demand for wood and land caused by current bio-energy policies are two very important drivers in this respect".

Hubertus Samangun of the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests and Asian Indigenous focal point of the Coalition adds: "Despite the many REDD+ policies and projects that are currently developed in Indonesia, the forests on my home island Yamdena are still threatened by a massive logging concession. ICTI and Indigenous Peoples of Yamdena island have been trying to fight to stop the logging company for 2 years. REDD+ has not only proven to be ineffective, it also undermines the rights of Indigenous Peoples by commodifying their forest and lands for corporate profit". Hubertus Samangun is also the Focal Point of Indigenous Peoples Major Group to the United Nations Forum on Forests.

GFC calls on Governments to use the UN Year of Forests to develop effective, rights-based and socially just policies and honest definitions that address the drivers of forest loss. This includes abandoning all subsidies and other forms of support for wood-based bio-energy and agrofuels.

Notes to Editors:

(1) The Global Forest Coalition is a worldwide network of over 50 NGOs and Indigenous Peoples' Organizations striving for rights-based, socially just and effective forest policies. See www.globalforestcoalition.org
(2) See http://unfccc.int/meetings/cop_16/items/5571.php for the outcomes of the 16th Conference of the Parties of the Framework Convention on Climate Change
(3) The report "Getting to the Roots" can be downloaded from
English: www.globalforestcoalition.org/img/userpics/File/REDD/Report-Getting-to-the-roots.pdf
Spanish: www.globalforestcoalition.org/img/userpics/File/REDD/La-raiz-del-problema.pdf
French: www.globalforestcoalition.org/img/userpics/File/REDD/Report-Les-racines-du-probleme.pdf

www.globalforestcoalition.org/

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Biofuel Jatropha Falls From Wonder-Crop Pedestal



Biofuel Watch - Biofuel Jatropha Falls From Wonder-Crop Pedestal



Date: 24-Jan-11
Country: BELGIUM
Author: Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck

Biofuel Jatropha Falls From Wonder-Crop Pedestal Photo: Daniel LeClair

Jatropha, a biofuel-producing plant once touted as a wonder-crop, is turning out to be much less dependable than first thought, both environmentalists and industry players say.

Some biofuel producers found themselves agreeing with many of the criticisms detailed in a report launched by campaign group Friends of the Earth this week -- "Jatropha: money doesn't grow on trees."

Jatropha has been widely heralded as a wonder plant whose cultivation on non-arable land in Africa, Asia and Latin America would provide biodiesel and jobs in poor countries without using farmland needed to feed growing numbers of local people.

"The plant can withstand dry conditions, low nutrient levels and exposed conditions," according to the website of the Netherlands-based Jatropha Investment Fund. "Many desert areas and land which is not currently cultivated will be very suitable for the establishment of plantations."

But some biofuels producers have found the plant less robust than first thought.

"Jatropha is not the miracle crop that many people think it is," said Dominic Fava, business development manager of British biofuels firm D1 Oils, which processes jatropha grown in Asia and Africa.

Other company managers say that while the plant needs no irrigation, high yields depend on good soil and chemical additives.

"The idea that jatropha can be grown on marginal land is a red herring," Harry Stourton, Business Development Director of UK-based Sun Biofuels, which cultivates jatropha in Mozambique and Tanzania, told Reuters.

"It does grow on marginal land, but if you use marginal land you'll get marginal yields," he said.

Sun Biofuels estimates its Mozambique plantation, once it matures in two years, may yield two tonnes of oil per hectare of jatropha, and notes it is grown with fertilizers and pesticides on the fertile land of former tobacco fields.

"It is perhaps inappropriate to be offering guaranteed returns at such a stage of domestication, when we've still got a lot to learn about this crop," said Fava.

The report was launched amid a heated debate in the European Union about biofuels, which critics charge are competing for land with food crops and creating unwanted side-effects around the globe.

"It's good that developers agree jatropha is no wonder-crop. But it means they'll grow on fertile land," said Christine Pohl, author of the report.

"We think such land should be used for food production, particularly in light of growing populations and in light of global food insecurity," she said.

(Editing by Tim Pearce)

http://planetark.org/wen/60968

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Canadian co. to make flax biodiesel; Valero invests $50m in 2G plant



Biofuel Watch - Canadian co. to make flax biodiesel; Valero invests $50m in 2G plant



1.Canadian Biodiesel Plant To Make Fuel From Flax
Date: 17-Jan-11
Country: CANADA
Author: Susan Taylor

A tiny Canadian startup company that is preparing to open a biodiesel plant in Toronto this spring says it will produce clean fuel, animal feed and human food all from the modest flax seed.
Privately held Energy Innovation Corp, which has also developed a way to produce biofuel from used coffee grounds, said its production process creates multiple revenue streams, but no waste.
"The demand is actually ten times more than we think we'll be able to supply over the next 16 to 18 months," said the company's 27-year-old chief executive, Jon Dwyer.
Canada's appetite for biodiesel, typically produced from animal fat, used cooking oil, soybeans or canola, is expected to soar.
A government mandate will require 2 percent renewable content in all diesel fuel in 2011, though a start date has not yet been set. Canadian Renewable Fuels Association President Gordon Quaiattini said he expects an announcement on timing in the next few weeks.
Canada currently produces about 200 million liters (52 million gallons) of biodiesel annually, but will need about 550 million liters (145 million gallons) to meet government quotas.
Energy Innovation plans to make up to 10 million liters (2.6 million gallons) of biodiesel annually at its Toronto plant while it chases "monstrous markets" for animal and human feed.
It has rights to a process that uses 40 percent of the flax seed for fuel, with the remainder turned into meal.
Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, the meal has lucrative markets as chicken, cattle, shrimp and fish feed, Dwyer said. Energy Innovation is also marketing a high-protein, gluten-free flax flour for human consumption.
AT LEAST EIGHT MORE PLANTS
The company, which has operated a 3.2 million liter (0.8 million gallon) capacity pilot plant in Port Colborne, Ontario, since 2006, now has ambitious expansion plans.
Dwyer, who scraped together C$60,000 ($60,600) to fund the company's research and development, and has since raised more than C$1 million, wants to open "a minimum" of eight more plants in the province over the next three years.
Biox Corp is Canada's biggest and only publicly traded biodiesel producer, with a 67 million liter (17.7 million gallon) plant in Hamilton, Ontario, that can process any feedstock. Biox has said it wants to build 10 similar plants in North America and Europe over the next decade.
Energy Innovation is planning for smaller facilities to ensure a secure supply of flax seed from local farmers. Flax seed for the Toronto plant will come from a 1,200 acre farm owned by a major shareholder in the company.
"There isn't a one-size-fits-all model," said Quaiattini.
What's interesting about this technology and even the size of these plants ... and the capital costs (is it makes them) very viable in not just Toronto, but in other parts of world as well."
Energy Innovation is in contract talks with three customers for its Toronto plant, which will cost C$2.5 million to build, Dwyer said. It has also held discussions with Metrolinx, the Toronto area's public-transportation agency.
Canadian biodiesel producers export about 75 percent of their fuel to the United States, which will use about 800 million gallons of the fuel in 2011, with demand seen rising to 1 billion gallons by 2012, Quaiattini said.
(Editing by Rob Wilson)
 
2. 
Valero Invests $50 Million In Cellulosic Ethanol Plant
Date: 14-Jan-11
Country: USA
Author: Nichola Groom

U.S. oil refiner Valero Energy Corp will invest up to $50 million in a plant that will produce ethanol from wood, a major mainstream backing for the emerging technology.
The investment in venture capital-backed Mascoma Corp includes a deal for Valero to purchase the facility's 40 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol, the companies said on Thursday in a joint statement.
The $350 million plant will be located in Kinross Charter Township, Michigan. The state of Michigan has contributed $23.5 million to fund the project, and Mascoma is also waiting for final approval of a $210 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The company will begin construction on the plant this year and expects it to produce ethanol in 2013.
Cellulosic ethanol, which is made from non-food crops like switchgrass and agricultural waste, is widely thought to be better for the environment than corn-based ethanol. However, producing cellulosic ethanol is more expensive than making the fuel from grains because there are more steps required to convert the materials into starch for fermenting.
Difficulties ramping up commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facilities prompted the Environmental Protection Agency late last year to slash the amount of cellulosic that must be produced this year. It said last November that five plants would likely produce 6.6 million gallons of cellulosic in 2011, far less than the original target of 250 million gallons.
Valero, the top U.S. independent refiner, entered the market for corn ethanol in 2009 when it bought several assets of bankrupt VeraSun Energy Corp.
Investors in Lebanon, New Hampshire-based Mascoma include Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, VantagePoint Venture Partners, Flagship Ventures, Atlas Venture, General Motors Co and Marathon Oil Corp.
(Editing by Richard Chang)

© Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved
 
 
http://www.planetark.com/enviro-news/item/60875

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bioethanol's dirty footprint in Brazil



Biofuel Watch - Bioethanol's dirty footprint in Brazil



Lindemberg Medeiros de Araujo, Flávia de Barros Prado Moura
Nature 469, 299-299 (19 January 2011) doi:10.1038/469299d Correspondence

Bioethanol's dirty footprint in Brazil

We believe that insufficient attention is paid to the social and environmental costs incurred at regional scales by biofuel production in Brazil (A. K.Duailibe Nature 468,1041; 2010).

Brazil's Alagoas state covers almost 28,000 square kilometres, roughly
half of which used to be rainforest. Sugar-cane plantations have now taken over coastal regions, including flood plains. A study commissioned by the Alagoas government reveals that just 13.1% of the state's original rainforest has survived 35 years of the sugar-cane ethanol programme. This amounts to an average loss of 3,736 hectares of rainforest per year in what was formerly one of the world's 34 biodiversity hotspots.

This environmental catastrophe is already taking its toll. Heavy rainfall in the region last year led to severe floods that destroyed thousands of buildings. Despite academic and political controversy, most people believe biofuels to be `clean'. In fact, ethanol production leaves a dirty footprint in one of Brazil's poorest states.

Lindemberg Medeiros de Araujo, Flávia de Barros Prado Moura
Universidade Federal de Alagoas, Brazil.
lindemberg@pq.cnpq.br

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Statistics on UK use of transport biofuels



Biofuel Watch - Statistics on UK use of transport biofuels



RFA Quarterly Report 10: 15 April 2010 - 14 October 2010

Provisional data for the 2010/11 obligation year to date

This report covers the supply of biofuels under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation from 15 April 2010 to 14 October 2010.

The headline figures are:

· 3.7 billion litres of biofuel have been supplied under the RTFO in the first 30 months.

· In the first six months of the 2010/11 obligation period, 876 million litres of biofuel have been supplied, which is approximately 3.5% of total road transport fuel reported to the RFA against an annual target of 3.5%3. More biodiesel (64%) has been supplied than bioethanol (36%).

· The feedstock is known for 96% of fuel supplied. Both the feedstock and country of origin are known for 96%.

· The most widely reported source of biodiesel was soy from Argentina (169m litres, 30% of biodiesel supplied). The most widely reported source of bioethanol was sugarcane from Brazil (84m litres, 27% of bioethanol supplied).

· Over the period, 42% of biofuels met an environmental standard, compared to a target of 80%.

· The majority of feedstock has been imported; 18% of the biofuel was reported as coming from UK feedstocks.

· 62% of the fuel reported as coming from UK feedstocks met environmental sustainability standards.

· Greenhouse gas savings of 52% were achieved against a Government target of 50%.

(This figure may not include all emissions from direct land use change and excludes the emissions from indirect land-use changes considered in the Agency's 'Gallagher Review'.)

(Also this figure is distorted by the high levels of waste feedstock now being used for biodiesel – see below)

Other points:

BIODIESEL

· Overall split between waste and non-waste in biodiesel is 46% / 54%

· Overall GHG saving from biodiesel 51%

· ONLY 45% of biodiesel met an environmental standard

· ONLY 44% of biodiesel met a social standard

(and these percentages are even worse for non-waste feedstocks)


· GHG savings from non-waste biodiesel is 33.6%. FAILS THE CURRENT EU RED THRESHOLD

· From UCO and Tallow GHG saving is 83%

PALM OIL

· Volumes of palm oil down to 6% of all biodiesel. It was about 11% a year ago. Overall GHG saving from palm oil just 22%

· No palm oil met a `social standard'. All palm oil from India and about a third from Malaysia came from land where the previous use is `unknown'

RAPESEED OIL

· Volume 12% of total biodiesel. Overall GHG saving 36%.

· UK rapeseed only slightly better at 37%

SOY

· Volume 36% of all biodiesel. Overall GHG saving 33%


UCO

· Volume 33% of all biodiesel. Overall GHG saving 84%

TALLOW

· Volume 9% of all biodiesel. Overall GHG saving 81%


BIOETHANOL

· Overall GHG saving 55%

· ONLY 15% met an environmental standard

· ONLY 23 % met a social standard

· No data reported on Environmental or Social standards for Brazilian Sugar Cane feedstock.

Full report at http://www.renewablefuelsagency.gov.uk/carbon-and-sustainability/rtfo-reports

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USDA/DOE offer 646M loan guarantees for advanced biofuels



Biofuel Watch - USDA/DOE offer 646M loan guarantees for advanced biofuels




 



USDA, DOE announce $646M in advanced biofuels loan guarantees

Jim Lane January 21, 2011 0 Comments
US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

In Washington, the USDA and DOE announced four loan guarantees worth $645 million to Coskata, Ineos BIO, Enerkem cellulosic ethanol projects, and a Valero-Darling renewable diesel project in Louisiana.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced three projects totaling $405 million in guarantee loans. The winners: a 55 million gallon Coskata cellulosic ethanol project in Greene County, Alabama, which received a $250 million guarantee; a 10 million gallon Enerkem cellulosic ethanol project in Pontotoc, Mississippi, which received an $80 million guarantee; and the 8 million gallon (and 6 MW) INEOS New Planet cellulosic ethanol project in Vero Beach, Florida, which received a previously leaked $75 million guarantee.

The full announcement from USDA.

DOE announced the offer of a conditional commitment to Diamond Green Diesel, LLC, the proposed joint venture between Valero Energy Corporation and Darling International Inc., for a $241 million loan guarantee.  The loan guarantee will support the construction of a 137-million gallon per year renewable diesel facility in Norco, Louisiana, about 20 miles west of New Orleans.

Valero Energy Corporation plans to direct the design, construction and operation of the project and market all of its output, while Darling International Inc. will supply feedstock to the project. The project will be the first application of its kind in the U.S. to use an innovative hydrotreating/isomerization process from Universal Oil Products (UOP), known as EcofiningTM, and a pretreatment process from Desmet Ballestra Group, which converts processed feedstock into high-quality diesel.

The full announcement from DOE

The Digest's Take

1. Where is BlueFire?

First of all, fears that the USDA would only be able to issue three loan guarantees, instead of their hopes for four, or even six as indicated last fall, were realized. The unlucky project that missed out at this time: BlueFire Renewables.

BlueFire's CEO, Arnold Klann, commented: "BF is behind due to bureaucratic inertia but not out of the money. According to communications from USDA with members of our team, just this week, the Agency suggests it plans on issuing a LG to the BlueFire Mississippi Project upon the project receiving its credit scoring from OMB. Coskata was ahead of the BF project by one year having submitted their application under the 2009 solicitation and BF under the 2010 RFP. They were able to pioneer the scoring procedure with the OMB and now BF is in the process with OMB. Both the Enerkem and Ineos projects, as smaller projects, did not have to go to OMB.  We are also still in the running with DOE for a LG and will be in DC the beginning of February for an IBR review with them."

2. Where is Coskata?

It appears that Coskata has landed the largest biofuels loan guarantee ever issued, at $250 million. And, we finally have more information on the location – to date, Coskata had only divulged that the project was in the Southeast US, but today the USDA confirmed that the project is in western Alabama. The Alabama Development Office said today that the plant in the Crossroads of America Industrial Park in Greene County is the project site, and that the Coskata project would bring 300 construction jobs and 700 direct and indirect jobs to Greene County. http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2011/01/biofuels_plant_bound_for_green.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

3. Where are the advanced drop-in biofuels?

We note that each of the USDA loans were for cellulosic ethanol, and only DOE loan was for a drop-in renewable diesel, in this case the Valero-Darling project. Digest sources indicated that this is reflective of the applications received – in USDA's case, the only four projects that passed through the technical, financial and environmental review were all cellulosic ethanol projects.

4. Where are POET, Abengoa, Fulcrum?

Our understanding is that each of these three have received term sheets from DOE, but have not yet passed through the full review process which is required for the conditional loan offer.

5. Is this it?

Our understanding is that the USDA intends to make another loan guarantee solicitation this year, and may well find funding under existing FOAs or other Department sources to make additional loan guarantee conditional offers prior to an additional solicitation round.

6. The elephant in the room: will Congressional funding be cut for Loan Guarantees?

The continuing budget resolution carries the nbation through the first week of March, and Congress ultimately is expected to pass a budget, and there's appetite for deep cuts in "non-working programs," and for sure the loan guarantee programs have had their critics, particularly the DOE program. Will these announcements be enough to convince Congress that bioenergy loan guarantees are good for job creation, energy security and emissions. Time will tell, but it certainly is progress on the DOE front, and the USDA moved at light speed on their 2010 loan guarantee solicitations to demonstrtae not only a working progra,, but an efficient one.

7. Where is Range Fuels in all this, which received a loan guarantee from the USDA but has been reportedly in various kinds of distress.

Secretary Vilsack yesterday said that "we are hopeful that Range will work through its technology problem which are at the heart of the concerns". The problems appear to center, to an extent, on the company's gasifier technology. According to one Digest source, "before it was ever built, it was known by many that it would have performance issues given the past failures of the technology in small scale with low hydrocarbon loaded fuels."

Vinod Khosla, a lead investor in Range, commented: "Technologies like Range that started with chemical catalysis will need to switch over to newer fermentation technologies."

Enerkem, Coskata and INEOS are all deploying variations on gasification technologies. So that's something to watch. The good news – there are a lot of alternatives in the gasification area, with Coskata among other companies looking at the ClearFuels technology, for example.

8. INEOS and Coskata both received loan guarantees, but are suing each other – is there any added risk in that?

Yes, INEOS has sued Coskata over patent infringement, which Coskata denies – stemming from the switch of a key technologist from INEOS to Coskata. The issue is still in the courts, but speaks more to financial liability than the viability of the technology – in fact, INEOS and Coskata fighting over the IP shows that both think it is robust, and key to unlocking value in this space.

9. A $241 million loan guarantee for a bioenergy project from…gulp, the Department of Energy. Does this mean the DOE really, really loves bio more than, say, solar?

Sorry, pilgrims. The DOE also yesterday announced a condition commitment for a $967 million loan guarantee to the 290MW Agua Caliente Solar photovoltaic project in Yuma County, Arizona. By the way, a Digest shout-out to ACS, which when completed is scheduled to be the biggest solar energy project in the world.

More on the feedstocks

Coskata: Woody biomass.
Enerkem: Dried and post-sorted municipal solid waste.
INEOS New Planet BioEnergy: Vegetative waste (citrus and agricultural wastes), yard wastes, wood waste, and municipal solid waste.

Diamond Green Diesel:
 Animal fats, used cooking oil and other waste grease streams.

Industry Reaction

Wes Bolsen, CMO, Coskata: "Coskata's $250 million loan guarantee announced today by the USDA is the largest biofuel guarantee that has ever been issued by a federal agency. The USDA's announcement further validates that Coskata's platform technology is ready for commercial scale deployment. This loan guarantee will allow us to move forward with raising capital to finance the construction of our 55-million gallon cellulosic ethanol facility, the largest planned in the country."

Brent Erickson, EVP, BIO's Industrial & Environmental Section : "The USDA's Biorefinery Assistance Program is being deployed to demonstrate the viability of commercial-scale biorefineries in diverse areas of the country, utilizing local biomass resources. Growing biomass for biorefineries can produce hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity, primarily in rural areas where economic development is greatly needed. This announcement can help the United States maintain its leadership in developing a biobased economy, using renewable resources for energy, fuels, chemicals and materials."

Tom Buis, CEO, Growth Energy: "Secretary Vilsack and the Administration are showing tremendous foresight by investing in programs that will advance America's renewable energy goals. This funding will help wean our nation off our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs here in the U.S. and improve our environment by promoting  the rapid commercialization of cellulosic ethanol and other advanced biofuels," said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. "Our country's next energy policy goal should be to open the transportation fuels market, as we outline in our Fueling Freedom plan, which would encourage demand for cellulosic ethanol and spur even more investment from the private sector."



Rachel Smolker
Biofuelwatch/Energy Justice Network
802.482.2848 (o)
802.735 7794 (m)
skype: Rachel Smolker



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