September 2008

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This page includes information on news and events in September 2008. (News and events are archived here at the end of the month.)



  • French biofuel tax revision threatens jobs -makers, 30 September 2008 by Reuters/The Guardian: "Thousands of jobs could be lost in the French biofuel sector if the government's proposal to scrap tax advantages for the grain-made fuels by 2012 is adopted, ethanol makers said on Tuesday."
    • "'A vote for this proposal as it stands would rapidly lead to a collapse of the French bioethanol sector and the destruction of thousands of jobs,' the organisation of French ethanol producers SNPAA said in a statement."
    • "The lobby said ending the tax reductions would open the door to cheaper Brazilian ethanol imports and threaten the domestic industry, which has invested nearly 1 billion euros to build new plants."
    • "Under the proposal, the tax breaks on oilseed-made biodiesel, and cereal- and sugar-based ethanol would be reduced by nearly 40 percent in January and then gradually reduced to zero by 2012."[1]
  • Biofuels surge slows in Southeast, 30 September 2008 by Southeast Farm Press: "A worldwide shortage of soybeans is a direct contributor to the price of beans and will clearly have a direct affect on how rapidly a biodiesel industry, using soybeans as stock, can get going in the Southeastern U.S."
    • "'If each of the 171 completed biodiesel plants in the Southeast ran at full capacity, we would use 26.9 billion pounds of raw material. The U.S. produces 24.6 billion gallons of vegetable oil and another 11 billion pounds of animal fats. At current full capacity, Southeastern plants would use over 70 percent of all the fats produced across the U.S. That is not realistic,'" according to Don Camden, a Southeast regional manager for Cargill.
    • "The bottom line, he says, is that we are building biodiesel plants much faster than we are raising the level of feed stocks to run these plants."[2]
  • Credit crisis may delay biofuels development, 29 September 2008 in "A global pull-back from bank lending may dent the commercialisation of biofuel technologies to replace conventional gasoline".
    • "A credit crisis which claimed more bank victims on Monday has raised project finance costs and made ambitious targets to replace replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources look less achievable."
  • France plans to end biofuel tax breaks by 2012, 26 September 2008 by Reuters/The Guardian: "The French government said on Friday it will phase out tax breaks for biofuels by 2012, arguing that higher oil and grain prices have removed the need for fiscal support."
    • "But the size and timing of the cuts represents a setback for the biofuels sector as it faces mounting criticism over its environmental impact and contribution to rising food prices."
    • "The French authorities said their move was in keeping with Germany's decision to end a tax break for biofuels blended with standard fuels."[3]
  • Electricity From What Cows Leave Behind, 23 September 2008 by the New York Times. "FOR years, the cows at Green Mountain Dairy here (in Vermont) produced only milk and manure. But recently they have generated something else: electricity."
    • "The farm is part of a growing alternative energy program that converts the methane gas from cow manure into electricity that is sold to the power utility’s grid."
  • Powering the Mekong with rice husks, 21 September 2008 by Vietnam News Service: "As the search for alternate sources of fuel continues in earnest, Vietnamese scientists have found great potential for a source of power in the scourge of the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta rivers – water hyacinths and rice husks."
    • "Local authorities estimate that the Mekong Delta annually produces some 3.6 million tonnes of rice husk."
    • A machine can process the plant waste into 'firewood'. "The cylindrical firewood pieces are about 73mm in diameter and 0.5 to one metre long each. One kilogramme of this firewood can be used to cook meals for four people for a whole day."[5]
  • EU biofuel panic threatens planet - Brazil envoy, 19 September 2008 by Reuters/Business Feed: "Europe's heated debate over biofuels risks weakening one of the world's best tools to fight climate change and one of the developing world's best hopes for economic growth, Brazil's ambassador to the EU said on Friday."
    • "'What I fear is the debate over biofuels has taken on a very emotional character and we have somewhere got lost in this emotion,'" said Maria Celina de Azevedo Rodrigues."
    • The "huge potential market for biofuels is coveted by exporters such as Brazil, Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as European farming nations. But the European Parliament last week agreed a 6 percent limit for fuels from foods such as Brazilian sugar."
    • "Rodrigues said arguments that biofuels had pushed up food prices had been proved false by the fact food prices were now falling in tandem with oil prices, which had previously inflated costs of fertiliser and transporting food to market."[6]
  • Power plants - The slow ripening of India’s biofuel industry, 18 September 2008 by The Economist: The article introduces a village in Chhattisgarh, India, that is growing jatropha "under the watchful eye of D1-BP Fuel Crops, a joint venture between D1 Oils, a British biofuels firm, and BP, an energy giant."
    • It notes that "the world is being asked to digest big claims for this poisonous plant. It will help meet the world’s demand for fuel, without crowding out the world’s supply of food. It will regenerate dry and denuded soils, and create jobs for impoverished farmers. India accounts for about two-thirds of the world’s jatropha plantations."
    • To meet the new national biofuel usage goal of 20% of diesel use in 2017 to come from biofuels, "will mean setting aside 14 [million] hectares of land" although "jatropha now covers less than 500,000 hectares."
    • "But sceptics say these crops take too long to bear fruit and their yield is unreliable."[7]
  • Environmental groups expose Biofuel technology threats to Global Biodiversity, 15 September 2008 Press Release in The Canadian: The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) and the STOP GE Trees Campaign issued a press release in opposition to the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) conference held in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
    • "'The biotechnology industry has pounced on the tremendous hype over biofuels to push out all of their nightmarish technologies, even pushing the use of genetically engineered trees for transport fuel,' said conference attendee Lucy Sharratt, coordinator of CBAN and member of the North American STOP GE Trees Campaign."
    • "'We want no part of this nightmarish future where trees are genetically engineered to fill our gas tanks,' said Tony Beck of the Society for a GE Free BC."[8]
  • EU in crop biofuel goal rethink, 11 September 2008 by BBC News: "European Union lawmakers have voted to set a limit on targets to increase the use of road transport biofuels."
    • "The original EU target that 10% of all road transport fuel should come from renewable sources by 2020 did not set limits for crop biofuels."
    • "A committee of the European Parliament has now voted to limit such fuels to 6% of the 10% target."
  • India sets new biofuel target, risks food price row, 11 September 2008 by Reuters UK: "India aims to raise blending of biofuels with petrol and diesel to 20 percent within a decade, threatening a revival of the food-versus-fuel debate."
    • "'An indicative target of 20 percent blending by 2017 may be kept, both for bio-diesel and bio-ethanol,' the government said in a statement on Thursday."
    • "Higher use of biofuels will intensify the debate on the use of farmland for fuel in India, and encourage farmers to reduce grain cultivation for food, said T.K. Bhaumik, an economist with Assocham, a leading business chamber."[9]
  • Europe to reaffirm biofuels targets, 10 September 2008 by "The European parliament will tomorrow reaffirm binding targets for biofuels in transport and for renewables in energy use in the face of growing political resistance."
    • "MEPs on the parliament's key industry committee will set a mandatory target of 5% of biofuels in transport by 2015, rising to 10% by 2020."
    • "They will also defy objections from several governments, including Britain, and approve in principle a system of penalties for countries which fail to meet interim targets for renewable energy."
  • Africa Becoming a Biofuel Battleground, 5 September 2008 by Spiegel Online: "Western companies are pushing to acquire vast stretches of African land to meet the world's biofuel needs. Local farmers and governments are being showered with promises. But is this just another form of economic colonialism?"
    • "A gold rush mentality has taken hold -- not just in East Africa but across the entire continent. In Ghana, the Norwegian firm Biofuel Africa has secured farming rights for 38,000 hectares (93,860 acres), and Sun Biofuels [of the UK] is also doing business in Ethiopia and Mozambique."
    • "Africa offers oil [plant] farmers virtually ideal conditions for their purposes: underused land in many places, low land prices, ownership that is often unclear and, most of all, regimes capable of being influenced."[11]
  • First GreenPalm Certificates Traded, 4 September 2008. In its newsletter, Greenpalm announced that "just hours after the first GreenPalm certificates were offered for sale on our website (...), a bid of $50 per certificate, was received and accepted. Further bids have subsequently been made.
    The purchaser of the first GreenPalm certificates will now be able to prove that their business, or brand, supports the production of sustainable palm oil.
    The producer of that palm oil, the first in our scheme to be successfully audited against the new and rigorous Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) audit, has earned a worthwhile premium for producing palm oil sustainably."
  • Republicans break with Bush on ethanol, 2 September 2008 by Reuters: "U.S. Republicans called on Monday for an end to a controversial requirement that gasoline contain a set amount of ethanol, a policy backed by the Bush administration that critics say has helped drive up world food prices."
    • "In their 2008 platform detailing policy positions, Republicans said markets -- not government -- should determine how much ethanol is blended into gasoline, and pushed for development of a cellulosic version, which could be made from grasses rather than corn."[12]
  • Small farmers to join Brazil sustainable cane move, 1 September 2008, by Reuters: "Dozens of small and medium-scale farmers in Brazil's Sao Paulo state will grow sugar cane certified as meeting strict social and environmental standards, the region's cane producers association said late on Thursday."
    • Sugarcane suppliers joining the program "must refuse the use of child or slave labor, limit their use of agrochemicals, and gather their cane with mechanical harvesters as opposed to cutting it manually. Manual cutting involves burning the plant's foliage, which pollutes the air."
    • "Production standards, which will come into force on August 30, were set by Organizacao Internacional Agropecuaria (OIA), a private company which provides inspection and certification services."
    • "The program also encourages alternating the planting of cane with grain to boost food production and avoid problems associated with monoculture, which can exhaust soil fertility."[13]
  • Dubai-based investors to set up biofuel plant, 1 September 2008, by Reuters: "Dubai-based asset manager Daman Investments will take a majority stake in a venture to build the emirates' first plant to produce biodiesel from inedible oils, Daman Chief Executive Shehab Gargash said on Sunday."

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