biofuels international reports that LAN Airlines and Air BP Copec have joined together to conduct a commercial flight biofuel demonstration between the Chilean cities of Santiago and Concepcion. An A320 Airbus was powered with fuel from refined vegetable oil.

TheBioenergySite writes about the European market for biofuel manufacturing plants. Over the past five years, the European market for biofuels has become one of the largest in the world. Presently some 380 biofuel plants are in operation. Despite already existing overcapacities, the number of biofuel plants in Europe will continue to increase in the years to come – especially for generating bioethanol and second generation biofuels. The EU Directive for Renewable Energies is the main factor causing an increased use of biofuels. It obligates EU member states to increase their share of renewable energies in the transportion sector to 10% by 2020. This article summarizes a recent study on the European biofuel market by ecoprog.  You can read the study here: Biofuels in Europe.

From Market Watch we learn that the global waste-to-energy business is forecast to reach $29 billion a decade from now as the world looks for more solutions to convert human, plant and animal waste into heat and electricity. Waste-to-energy encompasses thermal and biological conversion technologies that unlock the usable energy stored in solid waste.  This includes such technologies as landfill gas conversion to biofuels, plasma gasification and anaerobic digestion.  A new study from Pike Research suggests that waste-to-energy systems will treat at least 261 million tons of waste annually by 2022, with a total estimated output of 283 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity and heat generation, up from 221 TWh in 2010. (Note: a terrawatt is a trillion watts)  Today the size of the waste-t0-energy market stands at $6 billion but Pike sees this figure multiplying by 5 times over the next decade. Under an optimistic forecast scenario this market value could multiply by 10 times to $60 billion.  Pike also notes that growth in China is expected to shift the center of the waste-to-energy universe away from Europe to the Asia Pacific.

Renewable Energy World is more optimistic saying the global waste conversion business will reach $26 billion by 2016.  It is possible that in future the US alone could reach $120 billion.  However, for the industry to prosper it must overcome important challenges.  In many parts of the world, in both developed and developing countries, there is a public backlash against waste-to-energy projects over both their physical location and the perceived environmental impact.  In addition, there are questions about the economics of the projects and commercial viability. As a result, may proposed projects never reach their efficient economies of scale.

TheBioenergySite reminds us that the food versus fuel debate continues. This was a main topic of discussion last week at the World Biofuels Markets conference in Rotterdam and the author summarizes the issues for us. Environmental groups have not been embracing biofuel projects to the extent expected over concern about the link between biofuels and food prices, e.g  corn ethanol in the US.  Given the concern about fossil fuels causing climate change, it was expected that environmentalists would be strong supporters of the biofuels industry. Earlier this month it was reported that ethanol refiners are consuming more of the US corn crop than livestock producers, for the first time in US history, and this trend is set to continue until 2014 as government mandates and exports boost fuel demand. The meat industry and some environmentalists say rising corn consumption by ethanol refiners has driven up food prices worldwide. The UK Guardian also attended the conference and explores the implications for the future of biofuels as the industry attempts to move away from food inputs to other sources like household waste and algae. See also From landfill to Lamborghini: the future of biofuels and World Biofuels Markets: Waste Versus Fuel?

The Colorado Springs Gazette tells us that a local zoo is using animal waste to power a three wheel motorized rickshaw.

A waste-to-energy site in Moscow is using pyrolysis to generate electricity reports Waste Management World.  This is believed to be the first plant in the world to use this process. The pilot project involves burning organic matter at high temperatures in an oxygen-free environment to produce energy. The facility is capable of processing 300 tonnes of mixed municipal solid waste per day to generate over 5 MW of electricity. The facility features a sorting line to recover recyclable content and to filter out inert content before the remaining waste is shredded ready to be used as a fuel to produce heat. There is a video explaining the process.

Beef tallow is helping to power a train in the US we hear from Gas 2. Beef tallow is a rendered from of beef fat and was converted into biodiesel which formed a 20% biodiesel/80% diesel mixture to propel a train between runs between Fort Worth, Texas and Oklahoma for a year. Significantly, after a full year of running the beef tallow B20, none of the locomotive’s engine components or gaskets showed any sign of premature wear and tear.

openPR tells us that Eastern Europe entrusts its energy independence to biogas.  To escape from their dependence on Russian oil and gas, Eastern European countries are planning to develop biogas plants at city dumpsters and waste water treatment facilities. While projects in Bulgaria and Poland are still at planning stages, Slovakia already has a biogas facility at an agricultural farm in Kamenica nad Cirochou ready for a launch. Bulgarian wants to substitute 85% of the resources used for heating of residential premises with biogas. Poland is looking at an ambitious project of building 2500 biogas plants by 2020.

The San Francisco Chronicle chronicles the failure of the jatropha plant to ingite the biofuel business. Over the past decade a tropical shrub called jatropha curcas was planted on millions of acres across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa after research showed that oil from its crushed seeds makes an excellent biofuel. Because it can tolerate dry, rocky soil unsuited to agriculture subsistence farmers could grow it as a cash crop without denting food production. With money pouring in from governments and private investors, many thought they had hit the holy grail of transportation energy fuels. The article tells us how so far this has turned into a bust with more losers than winners. “Many projects have foundered as seed production has failed to meet expectations, and India, China and other countries have scaled back plans for additional planting. Farmers have discovered that while jatropha can indeed grow on barren land, it doesn’t flourish there…Moreover, some jatropha ventures appear to have harmed the environment and the poor people they were supposed to help.” A recent report from the Institute of Green Economy in India tells the whole story: The Extraordinary Collapse of Jatropha as a Global Biofuel.

A biomass plant in Supanburi Province in northwest Thailand will be powered by rice husks and bagasse says Biomass Power and Thermal. The 9.9 MW plant, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013, will generate enough power to provide electricity to 6,000 to 8,000 households.

The Williamsburg Yorktown Daily tells us about three coal generating plants being converted to biomass in the US state of Virgina.  Dominion Virginia Power received approval to convert three plants from the fossil fuel t biomass. The power stations would get most of their fuel from the waste wood left from forestry operations. Once the plants are converted to using biomass they would generate 50 megawatts each and together provide electricity to about 37,500 homes.





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