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China’s new electric-vehicle program boosts the sector

The electric vehicle sector enjoyed a boost last week when the Chinese government announced the introduction of an extensive subsidy programme to stimulate the industry and boost domestic demand.

China has set a sales and production target of 500,000 electric and hybrid-electric vehicles by 2015, rising to five million by 2020. To reach these goals, it has extended an existing programme of subsidies that allocates up to CNY 60,000 ($9,500) to new buyers of electric vehicles (EVs).

In addition, it has pledged to support substantial research and development initiatives in tandem with a wide-scale build-out of vehicle charging infrastructure.

New Zealand algae fuel developer Aquaflow Bionomic seeks up to NZ$300 million for biorefinery

New Zealand-based biofuel developer Aquaflow Bionomic is seeking NZ$200 million ($162 million) to NZ$300 million ($243 million) of investment to finance a commercial-scale biorefinery, regional newspaper the Nelson Mail reported.

Biofuel startup Aquaflow Bionomic Corporation of Nelson will seek hundreds of millions of dollars from global investors to build a biofuel refinery, after deciding to skip plans for a small- scale pilot.

The company, created in 2005, started out perfecting the use of algae from sewage ponds as a source of biofuel and has partnered with Shell research subsidiary CRI Catalyst to add other “biomass”, such as gorse, into the equation.

Aquaflow director and co-founder Nick Gerritsen said the fusion of his company’s intellectual property with CRI’s would let it produce a “drop-in” fuel that could be used in existing combustion engines at a price that was competitive with petrol.

The company had planned to build a 100-tonne-per-day pilot plant to test the economics. However, he said that was now unnecessary and the realistic focus was to build a refinery with a capacity of 1000 tonnes per day either in the United States, Australia or New Zealand.

He believed that would take two or three years and the cost would be in the same ballpark as the $365 million upgrade to the Marsden Point Refinery which was proposed this year by Refining New Zealand’s board. “By comparison, we could set up an independent self-sustaining refinery.”

About 150 investors have put about $8.5m into Aquaflow over 6 1/2 years and the company continued to garner funds from year to year, Gerritsen said. “The people supporting the company are high net worth people who agree with the philosophy and vision of what we’re doing.

Aquaflow made its first substantial operating revenue in the year ended March 2011, bringing in $122,669 after expenses for its algae harvesting projects in the US and New Zealand.

The company had no plans for a public share offer and was looking to large investors for the capital to make its refinery a reality.

Large users of petrol, diesel and jet fuel interested in buying biofuel equivalents were also being approached to nail down customers and possible investment.

Nelson Mail

New Brazil fund targets early-stage cleantech companies

Brazil cleantech fund highlights value of innovation for BRIC nations

Last week Clean Energy pipeline revealed the launch of a new fund in Brazil that will target innovative, early-stage cleantech companies operating in energy efficiency, waste and water treatment. The fund, managed by investment management firm Performa Investimentos, is targeting a first close of BRL 150 million ($88 million) and is backed by a BRL 135 million ($79.2 million) investment from the Brazilian National Social and Economic Development Bank (BNDES).


This is a welcome development for a nation with enormous potential for cleantech development but which currently lacks a sizeable domestic venture capital industry. Brazil and other BRIC nations need to cultivate a healthy environment for start-up technology companies in order to tackle issues that may not be addressed by even the most advanced international players.


Assistance from development organisations like BNDES can play a vital role in building the venture capital space in these nations. The onus now is on attracting investment from foreign and domestic financial capital.

Clean Energy Pipeline



Study: meeting biofuel targets with corn ethanol would consume 80 pct of US farmland

Read the full story from the American Chemical Society.

Bioenergy Potential of the United States Constrained by Satellite Observations of Existing Productivity
Environmental Science & Technology

Almost 80 percent of current farmland in the U.S. would have to be devoted to raising corn for ethanol production in order to meet current biofuel production targets with existing technology, a new study has found. An alternative, according to a study in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology, would be to convert 60 percent of existing rangeland to biofuels.

W. Kolby Smith and colleagues explain that the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) set a goal of increasing U.S. biofuel production from 40 to 136 billion gallons of ethanol per year by 2022. They point out, however, that gaps exist in the ability to establish realistic targets for biofuel production, which the law fills with assumptions about technological developments and the availability and productivity of farmland. In an effort to establish more accurate estimates, they used satellite data about climate, plant cover and usable land to determine how much biofuel the U.S. could produce.

DOE Secretary Chu says he is working for relief on gas prices

DOE SAYS IT IS WORKING TO LOWER GASOLINE PRICES: The Energy Department is taking issue with a Tuesday POLITICO story ( ) describing Secretary Steven Chu as saying DOE is working to promote alternatives to oil rather than directly lowering gasoline prices. “This report is false,” a DOE spokeswoman said. “In the hearing Tuesday, the secretary repeatedly reiterated his concern about the impact that increased prices at the pump are having on families and that we continue to do all we can to provide relief. That said there are no quick fixes, which is why this administration has taken steps to continue to expand production, dramatically increase the efficiency of the vehicles we drive, and invest in alternate fuels – all with an ultimate goal of reducing our reliance on foreign oil and protecting American families from the ups and downs of the international oil market.” Video of Chu’s testimony:

From POLITICO Morning Energy


California Leads Nation in Green-tech VC Funding

When it comes to U.S. venture capital funding for the most promising new green
technology firms, there’s California and there’s everybody else.

California companies raked in $2.8 billion, or 57%, of the $4.9 billion in venture capital offered up in the so-called clean-tech category of funding nationwide last year, according to a recently released analysis from Ernst & Young.

Massachusetts companies were a distant second with $465.1 million, followed by Colorado companies, which pulled in $363.3 million...

Green-tech companies nationwide raised a total of about $688 million in initial
public offerings last year. Rentech Inc., a Los Angeles provider of clean energy
solutions, raised $136.8 million in November. Its products have included a
renewable synthetic diesel fuel. Intermolecular Inc., a San Jose research and
development company for the semiconductor and clean-energy sector, raised $96.5 million.

Northern California green-tech firms received three times as much funding as their Southern California counterparts last year. But Sogomian said there were promising opportunities for green-tech growth in the Southland, in part because of efforts to reduce pollution at the nation’s two busiest cargo container seaports, Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Both ports have been providing seed money for start-up technologies designed to reduce diesel pollution and to increase the use of alternative energy sources.

“It’s happening slowly, but it is happening,” Sogomian said. “They are creating
incubator environments that are specifically focused on making the ports
cleaner. If this can get more attention, more of the future venture capital
funding will come to Southern California.”

LA Times @latimes

Canada threatens trade war with EU over tar sands

Canada may be on the brink of a trade war with the European Union in response
to the EU’s plans to classify oil from Canada’s oil sands as highly polluting.
In a letter to European commissioners, Canadian officials have said they will
work to defend their interests, namely at the World Trade Organization. Canada
fears the EU could set a precedent that would prevent the full exploitation of
its oil sands – the world’s largest fossil fuel reserves behind Saudi Arabia.
The UK has been more supportive of oil sands crude, proposing an alternative
option for labeling carbon emissions that does not single out oil sands crude.
However, the UK has yet to make any formal proposal. The regulatory issues in
Europe are another setback for Canada’s oil sands producers, which were dealt a
blow earlier this year when President Obama rejected a proposal for the
Keystone XL pipeline that would carry oil sands crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

“Canada threatens trade war with EU over tar sands,” The Guardian (

Thanks to RJ Energy Group #raymondjames

Algae strain that contributed most to world fossil fuel deposits could be adapted for fast-growing biofuels

While scientists previously established that oil and coal have their roots in the organisms that lived on the planet over 500 million years ago, one micro-organism directly contributed to these natural resources. That organism is a species of algae  called Botryococcus braunii, which left behind its chemical fingerprints — an oil that over geological time has turned into oil and coal shale deposits.

“Even more exciting is that this unique alga, B. braunii, still exists today and has been the target of studies from the large chemical and petrochemical industries,” said [a researcher].

B. braunii are very slow growing algae, so the organism is not necessarily a good source for biofuels. However, if scientists can capture its genetic blueprints for the biosynthesis of these high value oils, then these genes could be used to generate alternative production platforms.

Source: Science Daily @ScienceDaily

Algae Solutions for Space Station, Medicines

Dr. Mark Edwards, the Vice-President of Corporate Development and Marketing with Algae Biosciences Incorporated, and editorial contributor to A.I.M., wrote and presented two scientific papers promoting algae’s enormous potential for the recent 100 Year Starship Study public symposium in Orlando, Fla., an initiative spearheaded by the United States government’s Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) in collaboration with NASA’s Ames Research Center.

Dr. Edwards’ paper on habitats and environmental science focuses on algae-based smart microfarms, which produce sustainable food and animal feed high in nutrient density, as well as oxygen and other forms of energy. Algae microfarms can also recycle the existing waste stream, while organic algae biofertilizers accelerate growth of plants grown in water, air, or soil….

DARPA’s 100 Year Starship project is intended to lay the groundwork for interstellar travel over the next century, while delivering spinoff benefits along the way.

Dr. Edwards’ paper on biology and space medicine makes note of algae’s potential in the production of medicine, vaccines, and antibodies…

Algae Industry Magaaine   @AlgaeMag