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    Spanish company Ferry Group is to invest €42/US$55.2 million in a project for the production of biomass fuel pellets in Bulgaria. The 3-year project consists of establishing plantations of paulownia trees near the city of Tran. Paulownia is a fast-growing tree used for the commercial production of fuel pellets. Dnevnik - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Hungary's BHD Hõerõmû Zrt. is to build a 35 billion Forint (€138/US$182 million) commercial biomass-fired power plant with a maximum output of 49.9 MW in Szerencs (northeast Hungary). Portfolio.hu - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Tonight at 9pm, BBC Two will be showing a program on geo-engineering techniques to 'save' the planet from global warming. Five of the world's top scientists propose five radical scientific inventions which could stop climate change dead in its tracks. The ideas include: a giant sunshade in space to filter out the sun's rays and help cool us down; forests of artificial trees that would breath in carbon dioxide and stop the green house effect and a fleet futuristic yachts that will shoot salt water into the clouds thickening them and cooling the planet. BBC News - Feb. 19, 2007.

    Archer Daniels Midland, the largest U.S. ethanol producer, is planning to open a biodiesel plant in Indonesia with Wilmar International Ltd. this year and a wholly owned biodiesel plant in Brazil before July, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The Brazil plant is expected to be the nation's largest, the paper said. Worldwide, the company projects a fourfold rise in biodiesel production over the next five years. ADM was not immediately available to comment. Reuters - Feb. 16, 2007.

    Finnish engineering firm Pöyry Oyj has been awarded contracts by San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. to provide services for the first bioethanol plant in the Philippines. The aggregate contract value is EUR 10 million. The plant is to be build in the Province of San Carlos on the north-eastern tip of Negros Island. The plant is expected to deliver 120,000 liters/day of bioethanol and 4 MW of excess power to the grid. Kauppalehti Online - Feb. 15, 2007.

    In order to reduce fuel costs, a Mukono-based flower farm which exports to Europe, is building its own biodiesel plant, based on using Jatropha curcas seeds. It estimates the fuel will cut production costs by up to 20%. New Vision (Kampala, Uganda) - Feb. 12, 2007.

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has decided to use 10% biodiesel in its fleet of public buses. The world's largest city is served by the Toei Bus System, which is used by some 570,000 people daily. Digital World Tokyo - Feb. 12, 2007.

    Fearing lack of electricity supply in South Africa and a price tag on CO2, WSP Group SA is investing in a biomass power plant that will replace coal in the Letaba Citrus juicing plant which is located in Tzaneen. Mining Weekly - Feb. 8, 2007.

    In what it calls an important addition to its global R&D capabilities, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) is to build a new bioenergy research center in Hamburg, Germany. World Grain - Feb. 5, 2007.

    EthaBlog's Henrique Oliveira interviews leading Brazilian biofuels consultant Marcelo Coelho who offers insights into the (foreign) investment dynamics in the sector, the history of Brazilian ethanol and the relationship between oil price trends and biofuels. EthaBlog - Feb. 2, 2007.

    The government of Taiwan has announced its renewable energy target: 12% of all energy should come from renewables by 2020. The plan is expected to revitalise Taiwan's agricultural sector and to boost its nascent biomass industry. China Post - Feb. 2, 2007.

    Production at Cantarell, the world's second biggest oil field, declined by 500,000 barrels or 25% last year. This virtual collapse is unfolding much faster than projections from Mexico's state-run oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos. Wall Street Journal - Jan. 30, 2007.

    Dubai-based and AIM listed Teejori Ltd. has entered into an agreement to invest €6 million to acquire a 16.7% interest in Bekon, which developed two proprietary technologies enabling dry-fermentation of biomass. Both technologies allow it to design, establish and operate biogas plants in a highly efficient way. Dry-Fermentation offers significant advantages to the existing widely used wet fermentation process of converting biomass to biogas. Ame Info - Jan. 22, 2007.

    Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited is to build a biofuel production plant in the tribal belt of Banswara, Rajasthan, India. The petroleum company has acquired 20,000 hectares of low value land in the district, which it plans to commit to growing jatropha and other biofuel crops. The company's chairman said HPCL was also looking for similar wasteland in the state of Chhattisgarh. Zee News - Jan. 15, 2007.

    The Zimbabwean national police begins planting jatropha for a pilot project that must result in a daily production of 1000 liters of biodiesel. The Herald (Harare), Via AllAfrica - Jan. 12, 2007.

    In order to meet its Kyoto obligations and to cut dependence on oil, Japan has started importing biofuels from Brazil and elsewhere. And even though the country has limited local bioenergy potential, its Agriculture Ministry will begin a search for natural resources, including farm products and their residues, that can be used to make biofuels in Japan. To this end, studies will be conducted at 900 locations nationwide over a three-year period. The Japan Times - Jan. 12, 2007.

    Chrysler's chief economist Van Jolissaint has launched an arrogant attack on "quasi-hysterical Europeans" and their attitudes to global warming, calling the Stern Review 'dubious'. The remarks illustrate the yawning gap between opinions on climate change among Europeans and Americans, but they also strengthen the view that announcements by US car makers and legislators about the development of green vehicles are nothing more than window dressing. Today, the EU announced its comprehensive energy policy for the 21st century, with climate change at the center of it. BBC News - Jan. 10, 2007.

    The new Canadian government is investing $840,000 into BioMatera Inc. a biotech company that develops industrial biopolymers (such as PHA) that have wide-scale applications in the plastics, farmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Plant-based biopolymers such as PHA are biodegradable and renewable. Government of Canada - Jan. 9, 2007.

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Friday, June 02, 2006

High Level Group proposes urgent actions to promote a competitive and sustainable European energy system

The BioPact closely monitors the EU's energy policy developments, to see where it is taking our bioenergy and biofuels future. Today, the High Level Group (HLG) on Competitiveness, Energy and the Environment has adopted its first report, including a number of concrete recommendations to address pressing issues, such as: the improvement and implementation of EU regulatory energy framework, cost-effective inputs for energy intensive industries, energy efficiency, the functioning and the review of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Composed of high level stakeholders, the HLG looks at ways to foster consistency between policy and legislative initiatives and to contribute to creating a more stable, predictable and competitive regulatory framework (see IP/06/244 and IP/06/226). The Commission considers that only a comprehensive approach to all parts of the energy chain and to the three objectives of security of energy supply, environment and competitiveness can lead to lasting success as put forward in its recent energy Green Paper. The recommendations of the HLG will help to achieve this goal.

The main conclusions of the first HLG report are:

1. Functioning of EU electricity and gas markets

The HLG calls for making full use of competition instrument to ensure a more competitive environment for electricity and gas supply. Member States are called upon to improve in a timely fashion the implementation of the current regulatory framework with a specific focus on unbundling provisions and the removal of regulated tariffs distorting competition. Member States should also enhance the role and independence of national regulatory authorities. Co-ordination among national transmission system operators (TSOs) should be improved, the interoperability of gas systems harmonised and the time needed to authorise investments be shortened.

2. Cost-effective and predictable prices for energy intensive industries

Public authorities should evaluate current initiatives relative to pooled generation, long term contracts and partnerships. The Commission should provide guidance on the compatibility of long term downstream supply contracts and competition law.

3. Energy efficiency and conservation

Since there still is a significant potential for improving energy efficiency, the HLG recommends that a list of priorities for energy efficiency measures be established. The High Level Group considers that a new sense of urgency is needed to fully tap the cost-effective energy efficiency potential. There is a need to have a better assessment of the payback time of investments. Take-up of Energy services should be promoted and energy using products should be subject to dynamically improving efficiency standards. The HLG recommends also making full use of the Eco-design Directive (e.g. minimum energy efficiency requirements for all energy using products, as well as further development of combined Heat and Power, and district heating.

4. EU emissions trading scheme (ETS)

The group confirmed its preference for a well-functioning ETS as a central instrument for reducing greenhouse gases. To ensure that the EU has a cost-effective instrument at its disposal for contributing to the fight against climate change, the HLG proposes to improve the current system by taking action in three stages. This instrument should, therefore, give efficient incentives for investment in low carbon technologies, have limited impact on the competitiveness of energy intensive industries competing on global markets and should be an attractive “docking station” for schemes in other big emitting countries after 2012.

To further improve the functioning of the ETS, the HLG recommends the full and urgent implementation of current EU legislation regarding the liberalisation of electricity and gas markets.

In the coming weeks the national allocation plans of Member States for the 2008-12 period should be assessed to make maximum use of the experience gained from the first trading period.

In the short term before the end of 2006 the EU ETS should give a stronger signal towards encouraging low carbon investment, and providing a level playing field. Ways to reduce the administrative burden for small installations to monitor and report emissions should be explored. Cost-effective solutions to providing information on actual emissions to ensure market transparency should be explored, as well.

The HLG recommends the general review of the ETS should take place in the broader context of international action against climate change. It calls to bring forward the international climate change policy framework post-2012, so as to ensure more long term certainty and transparency in future emission reduction efforts. The HLG recommends also intensifying discussions with big emitters and identifying how the EU ETS can be linked with compatible system emerging in other countries.


At its today’s meeting the HLG has also set up two ad hoc groups to analyse barriers and drivers for investment in innovative energy technologies and long term energy future for the EU.

The future work of the High Level Group will focus on a more strategic reflection on future energy policies for Europe. The objective will be to draw up recommendations on how policy options can be developed to enable a sustainable, low carbon, and competitive energy system which also contributes to strengthening the competitiveness of the European economy and which promotes energy security of supply post-2010.

The full HLG report and more information can be found here.

Europa Rapid Press Release.


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