June 2009

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This page includes information on news and events in June 2009. (News and events are archived here at the end of the month.)



June 2009

  • Irena to locate HQ in carbon-neutral Abu Dhabi city, 30 June 2009 by Engineering News: "The International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), which was established in January this year, has chosen to locate its headquarters in Abu Dhabi's Masdar City."
    • "The city is billed as the world’s first carbon-neutral, zero-waste city, which will be powered entirely by renewable energy."
    • "In securing the location for Irena, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) faced competition from Germany, Austria and Denmark, which are all recognized leaders in renewable energy. However, the UAE's ability to serve as a bridge between the developing and developed world; the allure of the world's first carbon-neutral city; and a generous commitment of financial and political support gave Masdar City an edge."
    • "Acting as the global voice for renewable energies, Irena would provide practical advice and support for both industrialised and developing countries, help them improve their regulatory frameworks and build capacity."[1]
  • Significant rise in RSPO-certified palm oil in EU, 26 June 2009 by Commodity Online: "The volume of RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil imported in European Union markets have increased significantly as producers in South East Asia comply with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, the multi-stakeholder association working to make all palm oil production sustainable. The equivalent of more than one third of all palm oil imported into the EU could now be sold as ‘sustainable’..."
    • "RSPO rules and audits on the ground guarantee that social and environmental standards were met during the production of certified sustainable palm oil. For example, producers need to protect the habitats of endangered species and no new primary forests can be cut for oil palm plantations. The rights of local communities, smallholders and workers have to be respected as well..."
  • Brazilian miner Vale signs $500M palm oil deal in the Amazon, 25 June 2009 by Mongabay.com: "Vale, the world's largest miner of iron ore, has signed a $500 million joint venture with Biopalma da Amazonia to produce 160,000 metric tons of palm oil-based biodiesel per year....Vale says the deal will save $150 million in fuel costs starting in 2014, with palm oil biodiesel replacing up to 20 percent of diesel consumption in the company's northern operations. The biodiesel will be produced from oil palm plantations in the Amazon state of Pará."
    • "environmentalists...fear palm oil production could soon become a major driver of deforestation in the region. Cultivation of oil palm is a leading cause of forest loss across Southeast Asia, but has yet to be widely planted in the Brazilian Amazon, where deforestation is mostly driven directly by conversion for cattle pasture expansion and indirectly by expansion of industrial agriculture, including soy."
  • Oil boom threatens the last orang-utans, 23 June 2009 by The Independent: On "Indonesia's Sumatra island...vast tracts of vegetation are being torched and clear-felled to meet the soaring global demand for palm oil. The pace is especially frenzied in the peat swamp forests of the Tripa region, one of the final refuges of the critically endangered orang-utan – and [Jardines,] a company owned by one of Britain's most venerable trading groups, is among those leading the destructive charge."
    • "Palm oil is used in everything from lipstick and detergent to chocolate, crisps and biofuels. Indonesia and Malaysia are the world's biggest palm oil producers – but they also shelter the last remaining orang-utans, found only on Sumatra and Borneo islands in the same lowland forests that are being razed to make way for massive plantations."
    • "In Tripa, more than half of the 62,000 hectares of ancient forest has gone. As well as being home to endangered species including the sun bear and clouded leopard, the peat swamps acted as a protective buffer during the 2004 tsunami. They also hold gigantic carbon stocks which are now being released, exacerbating climate change."
  • Biofuels do well as jet fuel, Boeing says, 22 June 2009 by The Oregonian: "Good news for the struggling biofuels industry: The plant-derived fuels perform favorably as jet fuel, a study by Boeing and others in the aviation industry has concluded."
    • "In the [U.S.] Northwest, Imperium Renewables is banking on jet fuel to help drive up demand for fuel from its 100 million-gallon-a-year biodiesel plant near Grays Harbor, Wash. The plant is currently idled amid the economic downturn."
    • "According to the study, a series of laboratory, ground and flight tests conducted between 2006 and 2009 indicated the test fuels performed as well as or better than typical petroleum-based Jet A fuel."
    • "The study also showed the biofuel blends used in the test flight program met or exceeded all technical parameters for commercial jet aviation fuel. Those standards include freezing point, flash point, fuel density and viscosity, among others."
    • "Each of the test flights used a different blend of biofuel sources: An Air New Zealand flight used fuel derived from jatropha; a Continental flight used a blend of jatropha and algae-based fuels; and a Japan Airlines flight used a blend of jatropha, algae and camelina-based fuels."[4]
American Clean Energy and Security Act supporters rally in front of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. on 24 June 2009 to show their support for the proposed climate legislation.
  • Concerns over biofuel rules, 22 June 2009 by Delta Farm Press: A key U.S. biofuel advocacy group outline[s] "a host of objections" to the EPA proposed rulemaking for the Renewable Fuel Standard, "including a claim that the agency has overstepped its bounds by incorporating international indirect land use changes into its calculations".
  • Small-scale biofuels production holds more promise, says USAID, 21 June 2009 by BusinessMirror: "Decentralized biofuel production, or small-scale factories built on degraded or underused lands, has the potential to provide energy to half a billion people living in poverty in rural Asia."
    • " The report, Biofuels in Asia: An Analysis of Sustainability Options…focused on China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. It analyzed key trends and concerns and highlighted sustainability options for biofuel production."
    • "Compared with large-scale biofuels production, small-scale biofuels production for local use may deliver greater social benefits, including improvement of rural livelihoods, support of local industries, and a lower tendency toward exploitation of workers and co-opting of land from indigenous peoples."
  • Bioelectricity Beats Biofuel, 16 June 2009 by LiveScience: "Biofuels such as ethanol were once thought of as planet-savers....[but] a new study calculates that bioelectricity used for battery-powered vehicles would deliver an average of 80 percent more miles of transportation per acre of crops."
    • "...a small SUV powered by bioelectricity could travel nearly 14,000 highway miles on the net energy produced from an acre of switchgrass, while a comparable internal combustion vehicle could only travel about 9,000 miles on the highway."
    • "'The internal combustion engine just isn't very efficient, especially when compared to electric vehicles...Even the best ethanol-producing technologies with hybrid vehicles aren't enough to overcome this.'" [7]
  • Algae-based Biofuels Moving Ever So Slowly to Market, 15 June 2009 by Earth2Tech: "Algae-based biofuels hold enormous promise as an alternative transportation fuel, but investors had better have patience. Fuel made from algal feedstocks is forecast to reach commercial availability by 2012, according to a report released today by Pike Research on the global biofuels industry, but isn’t expected to have a significant effect on the market until 2016. Algae startups like Solazyme with aggressive production timelines, however, might disagree."
    • "Pike Research expects algae-based fuels to be the third key wave of next-generation transportation fuels in coming years, just after those based on waste greases hit the market followed by jatropha-based fuels."
    • "'Algae is the only feedstock that has the potential to replace the world’s demand for transportation fuels,' the report said."
    • "Of course, biofuel startups have been known to make aggressive claims about their growth trajectories, only to fall short once the realities of competitive fuel markets took hold. GreenFuel Technologies, a Cambridge, Mass.-based algal-derived fuel maker, had daring production estimates before it started struggling to raise funding. It went on to cut nearly half its staff and then finally closed down last month."[8]
  • For Greening Aviation, Are Biofuels The Right Stuff?, 11 June 2009 by environment360: "Preliminary results from an Air New Zealand test flight in December show that burning biofuels — in this case jet fuel refined from jatropha oil — can cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60 percent compared to conventional fuel. And, as a bonus, about 1.4 metric tons of fuel could be saved on a 12-hour flight using a biofuel blend."
    • "This month, the International Air Transport Association set a goal of achieving 'carbon neutral growth' — meaning an increase in air travel would not emit any more CO2 than the present fleet and flight schedule — by 2020. The keys will be increasing fuel efficiency by 1.5 percent per year and using biofuel blends, according to IATA."
    • "The overwhelming challenge is how to produce enough biofuel to supply even a fraction of the more than 60 billion gallons of jet fuel burned every year by the world’s aircraft....Non-food plant sources, such as jatropha and camelina, are promising, but difficult to produce in large quantities and can end up displacing food crops or lead to deforestation if the price of fuel rises high enough."[9]
  • Deforestation and carbon credits: Seeing REDD in the Amazon, 11 June 2009 by The Economist: "Saving rainforests needs both property rights and payment."
    • "A law approved this month by Brazil’s Congress...would grant title to all landholdings up to 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) occupied before 2005 in the Amazon, comprising an area the size of France, and ban further land claims. The law entrenches injustice: it risks rewarding people who used violence to obtain land, including large land holders who occupy almost 90% of the area under discussion."
    • "As with other forms of carbon credit, today’s voluntary and experimental REDD schemes will need to be replaced by more rigorously accredited and monitored schemes. But they have a chance of working only if the countries in which they operate define forest land rights clearly. Brazil’s flawed attempt to do this is a step forward."
  • The World Bioenergy Association (WBA) has joined the International Renewable Energy Alliance (REN Alliance), 11 June 2009 by REN Alliance: The Hon. Peter Rae AO, Chairman of the REN Alliance, who officially announced the joining of WBA on 4 June 2009 said: “We warmly welcome the newly formed World Bioenergy Association to the Alliance. All the renewable energy resources are needed to address the needs of Climate Change, Security of Supply and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. By working together these objectives will be more readily achieved. Bioenergy is used in almost every country around the world, and the potential to increase the use of bioenergy is very large…”
  • How Carbon Markets Can Make Both Economic and Ecological Sense, 7 June 2009 by The New York Times: "...researchers found that paying to conserve forest was more valuable than plantations as long as poorer nations could earn between $10 and $33 for each tonne of CO2 saved. Currently a credit representing a tonne of CO2 sells for about $20 in the European Union..."
    • "...opponents of a payment system insist that verifying emissions reductions would be too hard. They also say such a system could rob deprived areas of the world of the chance for economic development."
  • Bioenergy Makes Heavy Demands On Scarce Water Supplies, 4 June 2009 by ScienceDaily: "The 'water footprint' of bioenergy, i.e. the amount of water required to cultivate crops for biomass, is much greater than for other forms of energy. The generation of bioelectricity is significantly more water-efficient in the end, however – by a factor of two – than the production of biofuel. By establishing the water footprint for thirteen crops, researchers at the University of Twente were able to make an informed choice of a specific crop and production region. They published their results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) of 2 June."
    • "By linking the water consumption to the location and climate data, it is possible to select the optimum production region for each crop. This makes it easier to prevent biomass cultivation from jeopardizing food production in regions where water is already in short supply".
    • "Water that is used for bioenergy – whether it be for a food crop such as maize or a non-food crop such as jatropha – cannot be used for food production, for drinking water or for maintaining natural eco-systems."[11]
  • Indonesia needs $4b to avert deforestation, 4 June 2009 by The Jakarta Post: "...Indonesian deforestation could be averted if international communities grant US$4 billion until 2012 to finance the livelihood of local peoples and stop forest conversions....The Forestry Ministry said the money would be used to address the main causes of deforestation prior to the implementation of the reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) mechanism."
    • "Many have criticized the Indonesian government for its failure to combat high rates of deforestation, which have risen to over one million hectares per year."
    • "Indonesia has about 120 million hectares of rainforest – the third-largest on the planet after Brazil and Congo."
    • "...illegal logging [can] be seen from the expansion of oil palm estates in protected areas and conservation forests in the country....local administrations still [award] licenses for forest conversion, including for plantations."
  • Rice straw has a soft spot for bioethanol, 2 June 2009 by Checkbiotech: "Production of biofuels from inedible parts such as rice straw is so far not economically viable" however further advances in research could allow Japan to produce "2.6 billion liters of bioethanol per year from the accumulating rice straw." [12]

2009 edit
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