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Sugar Rises as Costlier Crude Oil Spurs Demand for Ethanol

Danielle Rossingh, Bloomberg
Sugar gained in London and New York as oil prices advanced, increasing speculation that higher energy prices will spur demand for ethanol, an alternative fuel derived from sugar cane and added to gasoline.

Crude oil rose above $70 a barrel in New York after talks to convince Iran to abandon uranium enrichment ended inconclusively yesterday, raising concern the supply of oil from the world’s fourth-largest producer will be disrupted. Oil also gained on news the U.S. economy grew at a faster rate than initially reported.

“Sugar is now correlated with crude as a result of increased demand for ethanol as a biofuel,” London-based broker Sucden U.K. Ltd. said in its daily market report.
(25 May 2006)

China: Oil-producing trees to help solve fuel shortage

KUNMING — Oil-producing trees are being planted in southwest China’s Yunnan Province to increase the region’s fuel supply.

The new project will result in more than 666,000 hectares of jatropha curcas trees being planted with the aim of extracting bio-diesel for automobiles. This year, the trees will be planted over a 25,000-hectare area.

Scientists have found that the oil content of the seeds of jatropha curcas trees can be as high as 30 percent.

China’s energy consumption has increased by an average of five percent every year since 1998. The country’s energy consumption totaled 2.22 billion tons of standard coal equivalent last year, up 9.5 percent over that in 2004, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Last year, China imported 168 million tons of oil, accounting for 42.9 percent of the total volume of oil consumed in the country in the same year, according to customs statistics.

China has taken active steps to solve energy shortages including the development of renewable energy such as solar energy, wind power and hydropower as well as bio-liquid fuel and ethanol fuel.

…Yunnan began planting jatropha curcas trees, originally native to America, in the 1980s and has conducted research on extracting oil from the trees ever since.

Zhang Wudi, head of the bio-fuel research lab of Yunnan Province, said that they have mastered the techniques of extracting the bio-diesel.

Experiment results show that one kilogram of bio-diesel oil can be made from three kilograms of seeds. Normally, one hectare of jatropha curcas trees can produce 4,500 kilograms of seeds, from which 1,500 kilograms of bio-diesel can be made, Zhang said.
(24 May 2006)

Giant grass to get larger role in energy supply

Nigel Hunt, Reuters
LONDON (Reuters) – Fields of swaying giant grass and patchwork patterns of willow plantations could become common sights as Britain turns to crops for heating and electricity to tackle the effects of global warming.

“The main difference is the height (compared with conventional crops),” said Angela Karp, deputy head of the plant and invertebrate ecology division at Rothamsted Research center.

“People are used to looking at certain landscapes, such as fields of cereals, and this will change,” she said.

The impact on the English landscape — which has an almost mythical status in the nation’s literature and psyche — could be similar to the change after rapeseed acreage expanded in the 1970s and 1980s, covering the countryside with fields full of distinctive bright yellow flowers.

The use of crops to generate electricity is touted by some experts as one of the best ways to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, blamed by many scientists for global warming.

Biomass — products from forestry, energy crops and a variety of other materials which might otherwise be treated as waste — generates about 1 percent of Britain’s electricity and provides a similar proportion of heat generation.

Miscanthus, or elephant grass, and short rotation coppice willow, are already helping fire up power stations, heat schools, hospitals and factories.

Karp said research is being carried out on how best to blend energy crops into the landscape, noting in some areas they could eventually account for 10 percent of agricultural land.
(25 May 2006