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Miguel Ángel Martínez

Southern Co. Unit to Sell Texas Biomass Plant (115MW) to Austin Energy for $460 Million

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Southern Co.’s (SO) Southern Power has agreed to sell the Nacogdoches Generating Facility to municipal utility Austin Energy for $460 million.

When the wood-fired plant in Sacul, Texas, opened in 2012, Southern said it was the largest biomass plant in the U.S.

Austin Energy, which has a 20-year power purchase agreement for the 115-megawatt plant’s output, said the purchase “relieves our obligation to make escalating capacity payments to a third party and, over time, reduces the associated cost impacts to our customers.”

Proceeds will be used to strengthen Southern Co.’s balance sheet, help meet projected equity needs and further de-risk financing plans, Southern Power said.

Southern Power bought the project from American Renewables LLC in 2009.

Minnesota offers funding for bioenergy pilot plants

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The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is offering funding to help advance bioenergy and biochemical production technologies to the pilot scale through its Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation Program Bioenergy/Biochemical Pilot Project Grant.

The AGRI Biofuel Blending Infrastructure Grant provides funding for biofuel blending infrastructure equipment. The primary goals of the grant program are to promote economic growth and environmentally friendly practices in Minnesota’s biofuel industries. Projects should aim to develop new or enhanced markets that improve biofuel blending outcomes (increasing sales, greater access to fuels, etc.).

Applicant Eligibility

Minnesota-based organizations eligible for the AGRI Biofuel Blending Infrastructure Grants include for-profit businesses, local units of government, and Native American Tribal Communities who are:

-Biofuel producers

-Petroleum fuel blenders or distributors

-Businesses where blending and supplying fuel is integral to their operation

All applicants must be in good standing, have no back taxes or defaults on Minnesota-backed financing, demonstrate acceptable performance on past Minnesota Department of Agriculture grants, and be compliant with current state regulations.

Project Eligibility

Grants can be used for equipment purchases and installation/associated costs for the purchased equipment. Equipment must:

-Be installed in Minnesota

-Be compatible with the biofuel-petroleum blends to be mixed, stored, or dispensed

-Continue to operate up until the expiration of the grant contract

Amounts Available

We expect to award a total of $650,000 in Fiscal Year 2019. Up to 35 percent of eligible project costs can be covered by the grant program with a maximum possible award of $199,000.


Applications are due no later than 4:00 pm CDT on Friday, April 12, 2019.

Official link:

ADB Funds Renewable Energy Projects in Mongolia

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The Asian Development Bank and the Government of Mongolia signed loan and grant agreements totaling $85.6 million for projects focused on developing the country’s first distributed renewable energy system and improving tax administration and public investment management using information and communications technology.

The agreements were signed by Minister of Finance Khurelbaatar Chimed and ADB Country Director for Mongolia Yolanda Fernandez Lommen at a ceremony in Ulaanbaatar. Representatives from the Ministry of Energy and Mongolian Tax Authority witnessed the event.

“These projects will support the government’s efforts to raise the share of renewable energy, decrease carbon dioxide emissions, and improve public financial resource mobilization and management,” said Lommen. “They are also closely aligned with ADB’s Country Partnership Strategy for Mongolia to foster inclusive growth, improve people’s access to services, and strengthen environmental sustainability.”

The renewable energy loan will develop a 41-MW distributed renewable energy system—a first-of-its-kind in Mongolia—using solar photovoltaic and wind powers with advanced battery storage technology and energy management systems. The project will result in the supply of clean and reliable electricity to about 260,000 people in remote and less-developed towns in western Mongolia, who currently rely on high-cost and high-polluting carbon-intensive electricity. ADB’s funding of $40.0 million is supplemented by grant cofinancing; $14.6 million from the Strategic Climate Fund under the Scaling Up Renewable Energy Program in Low-Income Countries; and $6.0 from the Japan Fund for the Joint Crediting Mechanism. The Government of Mongolia is contributing $5.6 million to the project.

The second project will support the Mongolian Tax Authority in its tax collection efforts by streamlining processes for tax administration and public investment in line with international good practice. The $25 million loan will establish an information system and provide required ICT infrastructure to host it.

Funding opportunities for energy efficiency and clean energy projects in Canada

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This document provides an overview of funding opportunities for energy efficiency and clean energy projects led by Local Governments and First Nations in British Columbia.

About this List of Funding Opportunities

This document is intended to help British Columbian local governments, First Nations, and community organizations find appropriate funding to support energy planning, energy efficiency, and clean energy projects. This list provides summary information about each program/funding opportunity, including the program title, description, details on eligibility,
funding available, funding organization, contact information, and website address.

Funding opportunities are organized alphabetically by program name and have been categorized according to the focus of each program: general funding; regionally specific funding; funding for First Nations; funding for Local Governments; upcoming funding; and non-funding programs. A cross-reference table allows for quick identification of program eligibility based on project and community characteristics.

The information is up-to-date as of March 14, 2019, and will be updated periodically as funding details change.

Every effort is made to provide accurate information. However, information provided in this document may deviate from actual program information over time. Therefore, it is recommended that readers contact each program as required to confirm the details herein.

Link to Document

More than 10% of UK Energy from biomass; more than 4 nuclear plants

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That’s according to the country’s Renewable Energy Association (REA), which claims the output matches that of 4 Sizewell B Nuclear power stations.Furthermore, the trade body believes that the biomass used equates to the level of emissions reduction achievable by taking 1.3 million cars of UK roads.

The REA is asking UK ministers to complete policy and regulations surrounding biomass, and renew long-term plans for the sector, whilst also supporting biomass projects. It expects that the sector will offset £21 billion in fossil fuels, and support approximately 46,000 jobs.

According to the trade body, biomass energy provides 96% of the UK’s non-domestic renewable heating, and 7.4% of the country’s total energy. It is also important to note that the bioenergy sector, unlike the wind and solar sector, provides stability to the electricity grids.

REA CEO Dr Nina Skorupska said: “Whilst wind and solar rightly get huge credit for their achievements, bioenergy is the little-known leader in British renewables. It offers diverse sources of energy that fuel British transport, heat and electricity – as well as boosting British industry.

There is strong public support for producing bioenergy in the UK from both biomass and waste, with 80% of respondents in favour of bioenergy playing a bigger part in the UK energy mix. Levels of support for bioenergy compare favourably with levels of support seen for other renewable energy technologies.

Respondents associate bioenergy with a wide range of positive features, particularly the fact that bioenergy can be generated from waste materials. It is also seen as a renewable source of energy that can reduce the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels.

The new role of Russia in the wood pellet market

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Wood pellet production in Russia has been steadily increasing in the past years. The North-West Region accounts for most of the production but the recent major increases in the production capacity are in Siberia and the Far-East Russia. Domestic markets for wood pellets in Russia are very marginal, and almost all production is exported. Pellet exports have been growing mainly in the EU countries such as Denmark and Sweden. In Siberia, pulp and paper industry offers only limited local demand for residual sawmill chips, which has forced many sawmills to dump their by-products. Several pellet mills are being constructed in connection to the sawmills, as the companies have abundant pellet raw material and growing market opportunities.

At the same time, the industrial wood pellet consumption in Asia has grown, mostly in South Korea and Japan. Numerous energy utility investment projects consuming wood pellets are planned in both countries. Asian industrial wood pellet consumption accounted for about a quarter of the global market in 2017 and is estimated to increase in the next years. So far Vietnam and Malaysia have been the major suppliers of wood pellets to Korea and Japan, but it is unlikely that these countries are able to increase the supply sustainably or provide supply security in the already tight and growing market.

The new role oThe forecasted demand increase in Asia offers an opportunity for Russian biomass producers, especially for those in Siberia and the Far East. These companies have access to abundant and homogenous wood raw material, and they are close to Korea and Japan. Organising the logistics from pellet producers to the consumers can still be a challenging exercise, which requires finding new solutions and partnerships.

Toyo wins a contract for biomass power plant in Japan: 50MW with wood pellet and PKS

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Japanese company Toyo Engineering has won a contract from Obayashi Kamisu Biomass Power Generation to construct a 50MW-class biomass power plant jointly with Obayashi Corporation in Kamisu-shi, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Under the contract, Toyo Engineering will construct a dedicated biomass-fired power plant that will use wood pellets as primary fuel.

The facility will be a highly efficient biomass-fired plant based on the reheat system where steam, after expansion through high pressure steam turbine, will be sent back and reheated in the boiler, then resent to the low pressure steam turbine for further expansion, resulting in high power generation efficiency.

Toyo Engineering will carry out the EPC turnkey contract on a full turn-key basis, which includes engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning services for a power generation unit.

The construction is scheduled for completion in 2021.

Japan to host one of world’s largest biomass power plants: 300MW and USD812 millions

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Power supplier eRex will build its largest biomass power plant to date in Japan, hoping the facility’s scale will provide healthy margins and a means of skipping the government’s feed-in tariff program.

The Tokyo-based electric company is in the process of selecting a location, most likely in eastern Japan. It aims to open the plant around 2024 or 2025 following a feasibility study. The facility will cost an estimated 90 billion yen (USD812 million) or so, and have an output of 300 megawatts — enough to supply about 700,000 households. ERex may work with a regional utility or other partner.

The biggest biomass power plant operating in Japan currently has an output of 100 MW. With roughly triple that output, the new facility will rank among the world’s largest.

Nearly all biomass power facilities in Japan sell their output through the government-mediated feed-in tariff program, which requires utilities to buy renewable energy at a fixed price. For large biomass plants that burn wood or agricultural waste, the rate is set at 21 yen per kilowatt-hour. But the program costs the Japanese public more than 2 trillion yen a year, and is said to hamper price competition.

ERex aims to forgo the feed-in tariff with its new plant by reaping economies of scale in operation and fuel procurement. The goal is to make the undertaking as economical as coal energy, which costs around 12 yen per kilowatt-hour.

Much of the renewable energy available in Japan is solar power, which fluctuates widely according to weather conditions. Biomass plants, which use such materials as wood chips and palm kernel shells as fuel, offer a more stable alternative. 

Demand for reliable sources of renewable energy is on the rise in the business world, as shown by the RE100 initiative, in which 100 of the world’s biggest companies have announced their commitment to get 100% of their power from renewable sources. ERex’s new facility may spur competition.


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The Addax Bioenergy project continues to pose challenges to communities in Sierra Leone nine years after its start. In a new turn of events, the whole community of Tonka community has been informed it will be relocated.

When the Addax Bioenergy project was established in Sierra Leone in 2010, it represented the largest agriculture investment ever undertaken in the country. The aim was to produce ethanol from sugarcane for the European market, provide electricity to the national power grid and create over 3,000 jobs in a remote area where 95 percent of the households depended on subsistence farming.

The project was supposed to become a golden standard for sustainable investments in agriculture. It was initially owned by oil and gas company Addax & Oryx Group and partly funded by several European Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) including Swedish Swedfund and Dutch FMO. Already in 2015, the DFIs exited the project citing financial challenges and as a consequence, the project was drastically downscaled. A majority of the employees lost their jobs and decreased access to natural resources due to the project meant there was little to fall back on. The ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone in 2014 and 2015 further exacerbated the dire situation that the project stall inflicted on local communities. The impacts of the stall – and the need for responsible exit strategies in land-based investments – were highlighted in the 2017 Swedwatch report “No Business, No Rights.”

The Addax project was resumed in 2016 and is today owned by British-Chinese company Sunbird Bioenergy, financial advisory firm Faber Capital and a consortium of investors, according to information on Sunbird Bioenergy’s website. Sunbird Bioenergy is registered in Mauritius and develops bioenergy projects also in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Relocation likely in 2020

The bioenergy project was designed to avoid any relocation of communities. Still, according to Sierra Leone Network on the Right to Food (Silnorf), a civil society organisation defending the rights of communities affected by the project, there are now plans to move all 300 people living in the nearby community of Tonka. According to the Sierra Leone’s Environmental Protection Agency, the main reasons for the relocation plans are environmental concerns. Due to its closeness to the factory, Tonka has suffered many adverse impacts. Water sources have been contaminated and ethanol residue pollutes the air. The closeness to the factory also poses an evident danger in the case of a fire.

According to Silnorf, Sunbird Bioenergy shared the relocation plans at a multi-stakeholder meeting in March 2019 where the community was informed that the relocation would likely start in 2020 and that it would be conducted in accordance with local laws and international standards. Swedwatch has asked Sunbird for more details but had not received any reply at the time of writing.

Despite high ambitions in terms of sustainability, the Addax Bioenergy project has come with several adverse impacts to local communities. Speaking on behalf of Tonka community, Silnorf stresses that the community members feel they are today left with two equally bad options; they cannot stay due to the pollution and the closeness to the factory, while a relocation entails a number of risks such as losing access to vital land. Furthermore, the area that the community will be relocated from holds important religious sites.

In recent years, several communities in Sierra Leone have reported adverse human rights impacts in relocation processes.

Human rights due diligence required

The Addax Bioenergy project has faced many challenges, including the project stall in 2015. In order to protect Tonka and other communities affected by the project, should it fail or stall again, Swedwatch calls for the project owners to develop responsible exit strategies and to provide communities with access to effective remedy, in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Furthermore, continuous human rights due diligence should be conducted, during and after the relocation.

New online platform maps Australia’s biomass availability

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A new online platform called AREMI identifies the location, availability and volume of biomass, and has been flagged as a “pivotal tool” to boost investment in Australia’s renewable energy sector. Businesses and investors now have access to a data-rich platform which maps out Australia’s biomass hotspots.

The Australian Renewable Energy Mapping Infrastructure (AREMI) platform collates and consolidates data currently housed by multiple organisations such as Geoscience Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and AgriFutures Australia’s Australian Biomass and Bioenergy Assessment (ABBA) project and maps available biomass resources across Australia.

The mapping platform was developed by CSIRO’s Data61, Australia’s Centre of Excellence in Information and Communication Technology Research and Development being developed to share mapping data and information with the renewable energy industry.

The AU$3.27 million project is managed by AgriFutures Australia, the trading name for Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation (RIRDC), a statutory authority of the Federal Government and received AU$2.19 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)

AgriFutures Australia ABBA Project Manager, Julie Bird, said that AREMI creates better links between potential biomass suppliers, such as farmers and foresters, and end users.

“The platform is supporting businesses to get more value from organic material, often destined for a landfill, by improving information, access and quality, said Bird”

The AREMI platform helps researchers, policymakers and bioenergy project investors make decisions on renewable energy development opportunities. In Queensland (QLD), Southern Oil used the AREMI data to identify 12 primary processing sites for biomass, which was then transported to their bioenergy refinery in Gladstone.

“Examples such as these show enthusiasm for establishing a bioenergy industry and how collation of new datasets can support new bioenergy initiatives. A lack of reliable information on biomass availability poses a roadblock to the development of bioenergy products across Australia. The AREMI platform offers a free, interactive tool to map biomass resources which can be used to develop regional solutions, she said”

AgriFutures Australia’s involvement in biomass and bioenergy aims to raise awareness in rural industries about opportunities to engage in the bioenergy supply chain as feedstock producers.

According to Bird, ABBA is an important project helping to identify biomass locations and success stories which will be fundamental to shaping Australia’s future energy economy and driving investment in renewables innovation.

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