Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, New Zealand, South Korea, United Kingdom

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Report: Australia To Surpass Biodiesel Targets
Australia’s capacity to produce ethanol and biodiesel should easily help it reach the government’s target of 350 million liters by 2010, according to an independent, non-partisan study of the Australian biofuels industry. The 200-page report “Biofuels in Australia: A Growing Sector,” reports that future production and uptake of biofuels by consumers will be determined by key elements including cost of production, continuing community acceptance, and government subsidies. The study said Australia’s biofuel production capacity is likely to exceed 640 million liters per year by the end of 2007, and could reach nearly 2400 million liters per year by 2010, if current plans come to fruition. Ecco Consulting and EnergyQuest contributed to the report. Contact: Ecco Consulting, www.eccoaustralia.com

NFAL Opens Biodiesel Production Facility in Australia
Australia is now home to one of the world’s first biodiesel production facilities. The $48-million plant opened last week in the Northern Territory. The plant is a project by renewable energy company Natural Fuels Australia Limited (NFAL), dedicated to the sustainable use of palm oil. According to NFAL, the facility will produce up to 140 million liters of biodiesel and about 12,000 tons of pharmaceutical grade glycerin each year. The products will be sold to domestic and international markets beginning in early 2007. Contact: Natural Fuels Australia Limited, www.intecept.com/naturalfuel

Petrobras To Study Ethanol Production in Brazil
Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras said Friday it will study the production of cane-based ethanol in Brazil’s northeast region. The study will look at the viability of producing cane-based ethanol, vegetable oil-based biodiesel, and energy from bagasse in the region. The study could lay the groundwork for Petrobras by offering domestic and export infrastructure to potential private sector producers that are considering new distillation ventures in the region. Contact: Petrobras, www2.petrobras.com.br

Canadian Credit Unions Offer Incentives for Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Loans
Several Canadian credit unions are offering a financial incentive to clients who borrow money to buy lower-emissions, fuel-efficient vehicles. Vancouver City Savings Credit Union will finance the purchase of a Toyota Prius with a loan at the prime rate, currently 6 percent. The rate is three to four percentage points less than a typical car loan. In November, Vancity made its Clean Air Auto Loan available to Canadians through its online banking division, Citizens Bank of Canada. Bay Credit Union of Ontario and Credit Union Atlantic of Halifax offer similar programs. Contact: Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, www.vancity.com

Study Reveals Canadian Industry’s Investment in Alternative Fuels
A new study released last week from Statistics Canada shows that Canadian industries are setting aside an increasing portion of research and development funds in order to come up with cleaner, more-renewable energy practices. Industrial spending on research and development of alternative energy was $204 million in 2003, which accounted for more than 30 percent of the year’s total research and development spending on energy. A major portion, 40 percent, was dedicated to hydrogen cells for use in cars, alternative fuels like ethanol and biodiesel fuels, and other energy storage technologies. Most of the increase in spending on alternative energy was seen in the manufacturing sector. In 1993, spending on alternative energy only accounted for 15 percent of the total research and development energy spending. Contact: Statistics Canada, www.statcan.ca

China National Petroleum Corporation and Sichuan To Collaborate on Biofuel
China National Petroleum Corporation, China’s largest oil producer, recently signed an agreement with the Sichuan provincial government to develop biofuel in the southwestern basin. It plans to produce 600,000 tons of automotive-grade ethanol made from sweet potatoes annually and 100,000 tons bio-diesel made from the seeds of jatropha curcas trees. Contact: China National Petroleum Corporation, www.cnpc.com.cn

Ultra Motors To Bring Electric Bikes to India
UK-based Ultra Motors plans to venture into the electric three-wheelers and higher-powered two-wheelers category. The company will debut electric bikes in India in collaboration with the Hero Group starting in January. Ultra Motors is providing the electric kits to Hero for assembly at its manufacturing plant. Ultra will establish about 100 outlets for sales, with up to 47 outlets expected in the first six months of 2007. The company also hopes to work with electric battery manufacturers to set up charging stations for consumers. Currently, about 10 electric bike brands are available in India; Electrotherm in Gujarat and Ace Motors in Pune are the major manufacturers. Contact: Ultra Motors, www.ultramotors.co.uk

India’s Simbhaoli To Increase Ethanol, Sugar, Electricity Output
Simbhaoli Sugar Mills, one of India’s top sugar producers, has announced plans to invest $95.6 million to increase ethanol, sugar, and electricity output. The company will increase ethanol production from 90,000 tonnes to 210,000 tonnes annually by April 2007. Simbhaoli will raise sugar output to 20,100 tonnes crushed per day from 11,000 tonnes crushed per day, and increase power co-generation capacity to sell about 36 megawatts of electricity. Contact: Simbhaoli Sugar Mills, www.simbhaolisugars.com

New Zealand Considers Hybrid Incentives
New Zealanders could be rewarded with cash incentives to buy fuel-efficient cars under measures being considered by the government as it tries to tackle climate change. Climate Change Minister David Parker said he was considering several options including a cash-back scheme, cheaper registrations for fuel efficient vehicles, and requirements on importers to improve New Zealand’s car fleet. Prime Minister Helen Clark last week said New Zealand could aim to become carbon neutral, and decreasing car emissions was a big part of the push. The cash-back scheme was pitched to the government by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, which has suggested $3,000 grants for buyers of fuel-efficient, lower-emission cars including hybrids. Contact: Climate Change Minister David Parker, www.climatechange.govt.nz

South Korea Aims To Be World’s Top Battery Supplier by 2012
South Korea’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy this week announced plans to develop advanced rechargeable battery technology, mainly lithium-ion, and to become the top global supplier by 2012. The government said it has assembled the infrastructure and key materials needed to boost production. The government expects Korean exports of lithium-ion batteries to grow to $2.3 billion in 2008, giving the country a global market share of 35 percent. That total is expected to jump to $6 billion by 2012, with South Korea accounting for 50 percent of the market. The country currently holds about a 22 percent share. The ministry will focus on developing the batteries for use in mobile devices and hybrid electric vehicles. Contact: Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy

Royal Society Launches Biofuels Study
The Royal Society, the UK’s independent science academy, has launched a new study titled “Biofuels: The Next Generation.” The study will explore the potential of the next generation of biofuels to provide more-economic, low-carbon fuel for cars and other forms of transport. It will also look at how scientific developments could address some of the problems associated with biofuels currently on the market, such as biodiesel and bioethanol. The Royal Society said innovative technologies, such as the use of different parts of food crops for conversion into biofuel, would reduce pressure on the land and decrease competition between food crops and energy crops. The group is expected to report its findings in fall 2007. Contact: Royal Society




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