Australian Motorists Switch to LPG in Droves
Australia’s “LPG Vehicle Scheme” to help drivers convert their vehicles from gasoline to less expensive liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) has proven extraordinarily popular. Some fifty thousand calls have been received at a special hotline since August 14, when the government announced grants of up to AUD$2000 ($1487) for the conversion, according to Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane. Since claims began being processed in October, 1,734 grants have been paid out. “There are around 3 million cars in Australia that could be converted to LPG, representing a huge saving to motorists,” said Macfarlane when the program was introduced. “In fact, in taking up this offer, the average motorist could start to recoup the cost of the conversion and begin to save money at the pump in just four months.” A great many unleaded gas-fueled vehicles can be converted to LPG Autogas operation. Such systems range in price from around $1500 to $3400 installed, depending on the type of vehicle, type of system, and options. Contact: Kirsty Boazman, Minister’s Office, 011.02.6277.7580.
Australians Look at Alternative Fuels and Vehicles
A recent survey from market researcher Newspoll showed that nine in ten Australians believe the government should do more to reduce the nation’s reliance on oil-based fuel products, including increasing the use of alternative biofuels. The survey of seven hundred Australians was commissioned by grain company Manildra Group, a major producer of ethanol. On ethanol-blend fuel, 86 percent of those surveyed believed the government should encourage its production. Labor leader Kim Beazley said Labor would work to remove tariffs from alternative fuel cars, lowering their price by up to $2000. “If the Australian car industry could put a competitive, value-for-money green car on the road, then the Labor government would put it in the Commonwealth fleet,” Beazley said. Contact: Newspoll, www.newspoll.com.au
ADM Brazil Sees Soyoil as Fuel
Sao Paulo, Brazil-based Archer Daniels Midland will soon be diverting parts of its soyoil production into refined oil for fuel as construction gets under way on the company’s first biodiesel plant in Brazil. ADM is currently building a biodiesel facility in Rondonopolis, Mato Grosso, Brazil’s largest soy-producing state. The new facility is expected to be up and running by July 2007. The plant will have the capacity to produce 180,000 tons of biodiesel annually, according to a company press statement earlier this year. The greenfield project will be built alongside an ADM soy crusher in Rondonopolis that currently turns some 6,500 tons of soybeans into 1,200 tons of soyoil each day. Of that, some 700 tons will be used for edible soyoil, mostly for cooking. The rest will be used to help power automobiles, according to Stephen Geld, ADM’s director of processing. The impetus for the investment was a government ruling made in 2005 to mix 2 percent biofuel with traditional diesel starting in 2008, rising to 5 percent by 2013.
Toyota To Unveil 100 Percent Ethanol-Powered Car in Brazil
Japan-based automaker Toyota will bring a car to Brazil in spring 2007 that runs on 100 percent ethanol, as well as on a blend of gas and ethanol, the company recently announced. Brazil produces ethanol from sugar cane, and a number of Brazilian gas stations sell it. The move is just one of the alternative fuel projects at the Japanese company, which has seen successful sales of its Prius gas-electric hybrid car. Toyota has not yet revealed the pricing or name of the car. Contact: Toyota, www.toyota.com
Brazilian Ethanol Demand To Double by 2015
Brazil, the world’s biggest ethanol producer, will probably consume twice as much of the alternative fuel within a decade, according to JOB Economia, a Sao Paulo-based industry consultant. Ethanol consumption in Brazil will rise to 32.7 million metric tons in 2015, from 13.5 million metric tons in 2005, Julio Borges, a director at JOB Economia, told delegates to the Sugaronline World Sugar & Ethanol Conference in Geneva recently. Flex-fuel vehicles now account for more than three-quarters of new car sales in Brazil. The South American nation consumes 1.82 million barrels of crude oil a day, about 100,000 barrels more than it produces, according to BP Plc. Increasing demand for ethanol will encourage farmers to plant 11.6 million hectares of cane by 2015, from 5.9 million hectares in 2005, according to JOB Economia. Sugar exports are expected to rise to 27.4 million tons from 17.3 million tons.
Alberta Gets $239 Million Biodiesel Boost from Province
The Alberta government recently committed $239 million over the next five years to develop the province’s renewable fuels industry. The investment will be used to administer the Renewable Energy Producer Credit program. The funds will help Alberta industry effectively compete with other jurisdictions that provide programs and tax exemptions to distributors who blend biofuels. The credits will be available for eligible commercial bioenergy products processed in Alberta from April 2007 to March 2011. The four-year, $209-million program is expected to promote the introduction of renewable products into the traditional fuels and energy marketplace. An additional $30 million, three-year commitment will be initiated immediately through a commercialization program supporting technology investment in the province. Contact: Shelly Thrasher, Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, 416.304.1324, www.greenfuels.org
China’s COFCO To Invest 10 Billion Yuan in Ethanol
State-owned China National Cereals, Oils & Foodstuffs Corp. recently said it will invest more than $1 billion in ethanol projects as part of Beijing’s plan to develop clean energy. Yue Guojun, general manager of COFCO’s biochemical and bioenergy division, told reporters the company was spending 10 billion yuan ($1.26 billion) in the next three to five years to expand its annual fuel ethanol capacity to 3 million tonnes (3.3 million tons). It would be part of a plan by Beijing, which would expand the country’s fuel ethanol capacity to 5 million tonnes (5.5 million tons) between 2006 to 2010 from the current more than 1.0 million tonnes (1.1 million tons), said Yue. The National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top planning body, hopes to raise the country’s use of the biofuel to reduce China’s dependence on imported oil and to secure the income for hundreds of millions of farmers.
London Gets World’s First Hybrid Double-Decker Bus
London Mayor Ken Livingstone unveiled the world’s first hybrid engine double-decker bus this week and announced plans to combat climate change. The prototype vehicle produces up to 40 percent less CO2 than normal buses by using a diesel-electric engine. Livingstone said all bus companies would have to use the hybrid buses as soon as they could be mass-produced. By the middle of the decade, London will replace all buses with ones using new hydrogen fuel cell technology, according to the Mayor. Livingstone also called on the government to introduce a new climate change law requiring annual cuts in CO2, warning of disaster for London unless drastic measures were taken to stop global warming. Contact: Mayor Ken Livingstone, www.london.gov.uk/mayor
Indonesia To Spend $1.4 Billion for Biofuels Development
The Indonesian government is setting aside a fund of 13 trillion rupiah ($1.4 billion) and nearly 500,000 hectares of land for the development of the country’s fledgling biofuel industry. Most of the fund, about 10 trillion rupiah, will go to the development of infrastructure in areas earmarked for biofuel plantations. Meanwhile, about 2 trillion rupiah will be used for buying plant seeds. The Jakarta Post newspaper reported that Indonesian banks were prepared to channel up to 20 trillion rupiah ($2.2 billion) in loans to the biofuel industry. The Indonesian government has so far secured commitments from eight private-sector firms for the planting of 500,000 hectares with oil palm, sugarcane, and cassava, according to Alhilal Hamdi, head of the government’s biofuel development committee. The Indonesian government wants to see biofuel account for 10 percent of the country’s total fuel consumption by 2010.
Malaysian Prime Minister Pushes for Alternative Fuels
Southeast Asian nations will cooperate with China to develop alternative sources of energy, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said last week. Abdullah made his comments during a series of meetings between leaders of China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Abdullah said the region cannot rely on fossil fuels. “We must go for sources of energy that are renewable and environmentally friendly,” Abullah said. The Prime Minister also announced that Malaysia’s state-owned oil and gas firm Petronas has signed a deal worth $25 billion over twenty-five years to supply liquefied natural gas to Shanghai Co. Contact: Association of Southeast Asian Nations, www.asean.or.id
Abengoa Collaborating with Ford, GM To Promote E85 in Spain
Technology and energy company Abengoa S.A. of Seville, Spain, recently signed deals with both Ford and General Motors to promote bioethanol use in Spain. Spain will be the second European market to introduce Ford cars that run on E85. Ford manufactures engines that can run on either E85 or gas at its factory in the Spanish city of Valencia. Abengoa and Ford said they would work with authorities around Spain and fuel distribution companies to promote E85. GM Spain/Saab also entered into a cooperative agreement with Abengoa for the development of the flexible vehicle market and E85. As part of the plan, the companies will seek cooperative agreements with other companies, municipalities, and organizations in Spain to distribute bioethanol to all the main cities. The Saab 9-5 BioPower sold in Spain can use ethanol. Contact: Abengoa Bioenergy, 011.34.95.493.7111, www.abengoabioenergy.com