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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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Monday, June 12, 2006

The geopolitics of biofuels: geostrategic report by think tank Clingendael

We recently started our series on the biofuels and bioenergy super powers of the future, starting with Congo (earlier post), saying that they might create a new global energy paradigm, with very different power relations than those formed by the petroleum-based global political system (which has led to wars, terrorism and economic crises).
It is interesting to see, in this respect, that several major think tanks are indeed following us and are starting to study the "geopolitics of biofuels", just like they used to study the geopolitical consequences of our oil-fuelled world.
The highly influential European think tank Clingendael Institute, has just recently released such a first study, entitled Future fuels and geopolitics: the role of biofuels [*.pdf].
These are its main findings:

First it notes why energy (in)security will become ever more important in global politics:

* it drives our economies
* energy import dependence is growing in all major economies, most notably in China and the EU (and to a less extent the US and India)
* this dependence is based on an ever smaller number of oil and gas producing countries
* the transition to other fuels takes time, and the pressure is building

There are a growing number of factors which cloud a secure energy supply:

* decreasing domestic production
* increased imports
* choke points in trade routes
* competition with new economies (China, India)
* limited capacities to diversify the energy portfolio
* concerns about political stability in producing nations

The options for change are diverse, but two main ones will have to close the potential energy gap facing many countries: energy conservation and efficiency on the one hand, and a radical transition to bioenergy and biofuels on the other hand.

Bioenergy is the key to increase energy security for several reasons:

* part of it can be produced locally
* imports will diversify the portfolio and reduce dependence on oil and gas
* scientific and technological developments are speeding ahead
* many countries have already implemented trade and strategic mechanisms and targets
* liquid biofuels are the only viable alternative transport fuel; batteries and hydrogen are not able to compete and require a new infrastructure and an entirely new transport fleet

The potential share of "first generation" bioethanol (based on sugar and starch directly derived from dedicated crops) is projected to be 6% by 2020; but developments in cellulosic ethanol promise to increase that share considerably.

Bioenergy promises to bring a shift in the geopolitics of energy. Regions with a high production potential are set to become oil and gas independent, and green fuel exporters, while those with limited potential are set to suffer under increasing oil and gas import dependence.
Looking at the assessment of global biomass and bioenergy production potential in 2050, published by the IEA Bioenergy Task 40, we can highlight the winners and the losers:

* Sub-Saharan Africa holds the greatest bioenergy production potential
* Followed closely by Latin-America and Russia.
* The EU and the US are ranking in the middle of the pack, and might become biofuel importers.
* Whereas in Asia the situation is much more complex: East Asia with China, holds considerable potential, in contrast to Japan, which has none whatsoever. South East Asia, including India, cannot produce enough given its rapidly increasing population.
* Australia and the Pacific Islands will become big exporters, since they will be able to produce nearly 6 times as much bioenergy as their entire future energy needs.
* The biggest loser is of course the Middle-East, with its sandy deserts that never see a drop of rain. But then the Middle-East does not really need bioenergy to secure its own energy needs.

The report concludes by saying that Africa and Latin America will find that the global shift towards biofuels and bioenergy offers a fantastic opportunity to produce for a global market and derive power from this trade, whereas bioenergy-deprived countries, such as Japan will have to choose between competing over ever scarcer hydrocarbon reserves, or creating energy deals with green super powers.

By Laurens Rademakers.

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The New Biofuel Republics

Here at the BioPact, we strive towards establishing a common bioenergy and biofuels future between Europe and Africa which will lift millions of Africans out of poverty. We understand that such a relationship will be extremely complex and politically sensitive, due to Europe's past in Africa.
One of the critics of the BioPact is the Institute of Science in Society, which published an interesting overview of some of the issues involved, opening with the following message:
Poor developing nations are to feed the voracious appetites of rich countries for biofuels instead of their own hungry masses, and suffer the devastation of their natural forests and biodiversity

We have to stress that ISIS makes many common mistakes (e.g. food versus energy farming, whereas in reality both boost each other), does not really understand the proposed relationship and takes a very one-sided view, refusing to see the many benefits that might come from a shared bioenergy future. We do agree with some of their points, though, since the BioPact wants a socially responsible relationship, and not one merely based on a predatory capitalist trade logic.

Let us discuss the points made by ISIS, one for one.

ISIS: Poor developing nations are to feed the voracious appetites of rich countries for biofuels instead of their own hungry masses, and suffer the devastation of their natural forests and biodiversity.

BioPact: On the contrary, developing countries have weak agricultural expertise and can benefit by being helped to grow bioenergy crops. As the Brazilian example shows, outreach, knowledge and tech transfers focusing on bioenergy have a synergetic and spillover effect on overal agricultural productivity. In other words: if we help poor farmers to grow bioenergy crops professionally, they will be able to increase their food production at the same time.
Moreover, energy farming makes it possible for poor farmers to diversify their crop portfolio. In the past, millions of farmers who were dependent on one single cash-crop have been pushed into poverty because world prices for their crop crashed. When they now farm for food and for energy, they can spread the risk. This brings more income security to them, for the first time.
Finally, many poor farmers' current techniques rely on primitive slash-and-burn farming or on extensive agriculture, which is extremely damaging to the environment. It is absolutely crucial to reach them and introduce new intensive techniques (using [bio]-fertilizers and [bio]pesticides), good management, meteorological information, and working marketing tools and infrastructure. The bioenergy opportunity will bring these instruments for the first time. The effect is less environmentally destructive farming in the developing world.
Added to this is the well-known problem of poverty-related agricultural traps: a poor farmer has no money to buy fertilizer and pesticides, so he uses extensive agriculture which destroys forests and ecosystems. The biofuels opportunity will increase farming incomes, which breaks this trap.
Both his food security and his income will increase.

The only realistic way to bring these techniques and tools to the poor farmers, is via the biofuels opportunity.

ISIS: The industrialised countries are looking to the Third World to feed their addiction: the land is there for the taking as is cheap labour

BioPact: there is indeed plenty of land that is not being used. Take the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country the size of Western Europe. It currently uses less than 5% of its arable land. 40% of the country consists of forest areas, which leaves 55% of unused, non-forest land. Millions and millions of hectares. Many countries in Africa have similar low land use rates.
Why would anyone want to object against using non-forest land to grow energy?
About the "cheap" labor. Consider the following: a Congolese farmer, on average, currently makes US$70 per year from the 20 are he owns. If he were to grow biofuel crops on new land, his income could quintuple (some projections go so far as to see a tenfold increase).
Now ISIS may think that increasing the incomes of the poorest people on the planet tenfold, is a bad thing. We at the BioPact gladly disagree.
These farmers are farmers - it's what they do. Today, they work very hard to produce enough food to survive. We can help them to produce more food than they need, while at the same time selling green energy on an international market where energy prices keep rising. Moreover, the biofuels and bioenergy industry promises to bring in many additional, non-farming jobs (in transport, infrastructure, trade, R&D, services, fertilizer and pesticide commerce, etc...). The FAO has calculated that for each set of 10 hectares of bioenergy crops, 10 additional jobs might be created that way.
The need for formal jobs in the developing world is very high. We don't understand why ISIS objects to an opportunity to fulfill that pressing need.

ISIS: large plantations damage the environment

BioPact: this is obviously a much too general statement. Which kind of plantations? In the case of palm oil, it may be true. But in the case of sugar cane, which does not grow in rainforest areas, it is false.
Let's stick to the Congo, a future bioenergy superpower. In Congo, millions of farmers grow cassava for food. Now cassava explicitly does not grow in forest areas. Explicitly so. Just like Sorghum (which is grown in the Central African Republic or Southern Sudan, and many other countries in the Sahel). Both are excellent biofuels crops.

The BioPact would appreciate it if "think tanks" like the ISIS were more nuanced and stopped the propaganda about "all plantations being disasters" to the environment.
In fact, a crop like Jatropha curcas, is good for the environment: it combats desertification, it combats erosion (a huge problem in many developing countries) and it prevents pests from invading food growing areas.
ISIS repeats a piece of propaganda that many environmentalists throw out. For the sake of the sincerity of the debate, we demand more nuance.

ISIS: Biodiesel has also provided a much-needed outlet for the glut of genetically modified (GM) crops that consumers are rejecting worldwide. President Lula of Brazil has declared that GM soya is to be used for biofuels and “good soya” for human consumption. Argentina also has plans to transform GM soya into biodiesel.

BioPact: we do not support the use of GM biofuel crops. Because we know that they are not needed to make the difference for African farmers (with whom we are concerned). We fully support those who want more research into the long-term effects of GM crops on the environment and on the economics of dependency (many farmers become dependent on multinational GM companies).
For African farmers, opening the wealthy U.S. and E.U. markets to their biofuels would do much more to increase their incomes than a mere reliance on GM-crops, the economic benefits of which are often exaggerated.

ISIS: The biodiesel industry says that for processing biofuels, large refining plants have to be constructed close to agricultural areas or forests, where the raw material is grown. The biodiesel will then have to be transported to filling stations in the same way as oil. The oil industry will want to maintain control over the distribution of fuels, and will enter into an agreement with these new companies, as in many cases the supply chain can be very complex.

BioPact: This is a fair point, but there is a big difference between bioenergy farming and pumping up oil from a well. In the latter case, one (oil and gas) company can produce huge amounts of energy, whereas this is less likely in the context of farming. The bioenergy industry in the developing world will consist of millions of individual farmers producing biofuels and biomass. This is already the case in e.g. Malaysia's or Nigeria's palm oil industry, where more than 50% of the producers are still small-holders.
The oil industry might want to build biofuel-pipelines (as is the case in Brazil), create transmix agreements, and invest in processing centres and distribution infrastructure, but the "raw energy", the biomass, will come from many small to medium producers.

ISIS: It is said that during the growth of the crop, the plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. This is true of what was growing before the plantation was established. As the industry has plans of expanding exponentially, it is likely that they will begin to occupy primary or secondary forested areas, as has already happened with the soya plantations. Soya plantations have displaced the forests of el Chaco in Argentina and the forests in Pantanal, Atlantic and Chaco areas in Paraguay. Even more dramatically the Amazon, Pantanal, and Atlantic forests in Brazil have all been cut down for soya. The net CO2 balance is therefore strongly negative.

BioPact: this is scientifically incorrect. In many cases the primary biomass stores less CO2 than the bioenergy crops that replace it (in the case where grasslands are converted to bioenergy forests, for example, or in the case where one grass species is replaced by one which cycles in more CO2, as is the case with sugar cane).
Moreover, due to its low yield soya is not very useful as a biofuel crop, so we would want ISIS to stop skewing the debate (by mixing up arguments about different crops), and look at each crop individually.
Moreover, we repeat that many excellent bioenergy crops (cassava, sorghum, sugar cane), explicitly do not grow in forest areas.

ISIS: Additionally, other greenhouse gases are generated as a product of the crop itself, the processing, refining, transport and distribution of the fuel. It looks increasingly likely that biofuels is a net contributor of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

BioPact: this is a false argument, which has been disproved many times. ISIS points at the concept of "Energy return on energy invested" ("EROEI"). For bad biofuel crops like corn and soy, this energy balance is indeed negative or marginally positive.
But for real biofuel crops, like sugar cane, it is entirely positive (8 to 1); for cassava it is 7 to 1, for sorghum it is 5 to 1; for palm oil it is 8 to 1, for jatropha it is 3 to 1.

Moreover the entire biofuel production chain can be powered by... biofuels itself. Many farmers are already running their tractors and harvestors on biodiesel today. And the processing of sugar cane in Brazil is powered by sugar cane residues. In fact, so much energy is produced that Brazilian mills feed green electricity to the national grid.

The argument that the transport and processing of biofuels require petroleum, is untenable. It is possible to green the entire chain and use biofuels in each step.

When it comes to the "EROEI" of biofuels, we urge ISIS to study the science, and to stop referring to crops that should not be used as biofuel crops (such as corn and soya).

ISIS: As regards the benefits to the producers of the biofuel crops, these can be extremely negative. First, the destruction of forest and other original vegetation has already happened; and if these crops were to expand as intended, they could threaten food security and food sovereignty of the local populations, because farmers would stop producing food crops for the population and instead concentrate on producing “clean fuels” for Europe.

BioPact: this is an old and false dichotomisation. It is not food versus energy, it is energy farming boosts food farming.
We refer to the Policy Debate on Biofuels *.pdf], published by the Swedish Institute for the Environment, and by the EU's Partners4Africa, the organisation that researches bioenergy and poverty eradication in the developing world. This report - based on thorough research and experience in the field - once and for all dismisses the common myths and misunderstandings about the "food versus fuel" issue, which ISIS replicates.

Suffice to show one case, that of Malawian energy farmers: they used to grow tobacco as a cash-crop, but tobacco prices plummeted a few years ago, ruining them entirely; they now grow Jatropha, which is good for the environment, and which strengthens their income (especially now that oil prices have risen so sharply), meaning they can produce more food. Malawian energy farmers now enjoy more food security than ever before, due to their bioenergy crop production.

It is sad to see a "think tank" like ISIS, which claims to be analysing issues in depth, repeating old arguments that are not based on realities on the ground. ISIS perpetuates myths.

Bioenergy production means a boost to food production.

ISIS: Large-scale agriculture, such as is needed to comply with the demand for biofuels is highly dependent on oil derivatives such as fertilisers and pesticides, which, apart from producing CO2 emissions, are highly polluting.

BioPact: the fertilizer and pesticide argument is false, and again, a myth used by many uninformed environmentalists, Peak Oil people and others. In fact it is called the "oil-based fertilizer meme" - which is brilliantly debunked here. (Look at how the myth perpetuates itself and is repeated over and over again by non-experts and amateurs).

To put it in simple terms: fertilizers are not based on crude oil. They are based on natural gas, coal, mineral rocks and even water.

Moreover, all natural gas based fertilizers can be made from biogas. Green fertilizer. Just like there are already biopesticides for almost all known categories of pesticides.

Again, it is disappointing to see that ISIS is so badly informed, and even replicates an unscientific, false meme that was created by uninformed amateurs in the blogosphere.

We must be short: we advise the "Institute for Science in Society" (which does not have many scientists on its staff), to study the issues surrounding the production of biofuels in the South, more in depth.

ISIS adds nothing to the debate, it merely repeats scientifically unsound myths. What we need is a more holistic, scientific and realistic assessment of the costs, the opportunities and the benefits of bioenergy production in the developing world.

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Good news for vehicle owners in Kenya - biofuels are on their way

We reported earlier on the young German entrepreneur who took our advice to heart ("go to Africa and produce biodiesel from avocado residues"), and ventured into Kenya to start the nation's first bidiesel plant.
But there's more good news on the way. Kenyan motorists could soon be powering their gasoline vehicles too on biofuel, if an ongoing campaign to re-introduce ethanol in the national supply chain succeeds.

Experts and MPs are promoting an ambitious plan to produce ethanol fuel, which they say is cheaper and will help sugar cane farmers. A group of private sector experts and members of Parliament are pressuring the Government to introduce new policies on the production and use of ethanol as an alternative to fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel.

The experts, from the sugar industry and energy, who met in Nairobi last week, named Baringo Central MP and chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Public Works, Mr Gideon Moi, chair of a committee formed to spearhead the ethanol policy framework.

Mr Moi will be assisted by the Sugar Campaign for Change chairman Peter Kegode, who hosted the stakeholders' meeting at the Panafric Hotel.

Top officials

Also in the committee are top officials from two leading power alcohol producers – Spectre International and Agro-Chemicals and Food Company – the Government and local universities.

In a statement, Mr Kegode said the committee will develop a policy framework that will guide the reintroduction of blending of 10 per cent ethanol and 10 per cent bio-fuel in the national fuel supply chain by December.

They want sugar companies to set up ethanol production units to enable cane farmers maximise profits from their crop.

Mr Kegode said diversifying into ethanol production was the best way to save the sugar industry from succumbing to stiff competition when the Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) rules finally come into force in 2008.

Nominated MP Ruth Oniang'o and Agro-Chemicals chief executive O. P. Narang' said many countries had successfully introduced ethanol production as a bio-fuel.

Prof Oniang'o said she would lobby her colleagues in Parliament to support the ethanol campaign, saying it was good for the country.

"Countries like Brazil, India and Australia have drastically reduced the over-dependence on fossil-based fuels by introducing the bio-fuels. We can also do it in Kenya," she said.

Use of ethanol to power cars would enable farmers to earn more from their sugar cane, she said.

Prof Oniang'o urged the Government to support the ethanol production project, saying it would help cut the ever-rising cost of petrol and diesel.

The meeting brought together all key players in the bio-fuel supply chain, including petroleum and development companies, sugar industry players, industrial researchers, MPs, and ethanol processors among others.

Mr Kegode told the Nation that the meeting resolved that bio-fuels and bio-diesel groups be formed to work on supply chain issues through four major thematic areas, namely standards and quality assurance, research, fiscal and marketing and distribution.

Ethanol is a colourless flammable oxygenated hydrocarbon. It can be used as a percentage blend with or as a total substitute for petrols and diesel as a fuel ethanol, according to experts.

"Ethanol can be made by anyone with a minimum of equipment. It is a good fuel and can give extra power to certain engines, is a non-pollutant and cheaper," said Mr Kegode.

But other experts, especially from the energy sector, are calling for caution on the campaign.

Kenya Shell petroleum company chief executive Patrick Obath said re-introduction of bio-fuels into the Kenyan market could be tricky.

He said an attempt by the Government to introduce the use of power alcohol proved unsuccessful in 1983.

"There is a raft of issues to be addressed before bringing back the bio-fuels. It must be taken through a careful technical process. Last time it was introduced, cars stalled on the roads because the project was hurried," said Mr Obath.

He said the ethanol craze could be unsustainable if the global crude oil prices were to fall from the current $70 to $50 a barrel.

An official from the Ministry of Energy, Mr Peter Kagwaru, said there were plans to commission a study on the viability of bio-fuels in the country.

Daily Nation Kenya (registration req'd).

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Biotech Industry Offers Enthusiastic, Active Support For New EU Biofuels Initiative

The European association for bioindustries - EuropaBio - welcomes the Commission's launch today of the Biofuels Technology Platform and is pleased to announce the setting up of a Biofuels Task Force within EuropaBio to coordinate the industry input. The new Biofuels Task Force mission is “to advocate coherently favorable policies, strategies, regulations and their implementation for research, finance, and market access of Biofuels as one of the pillars of the competitive and sustainable European Knowledge Based Bio-Economy, increasing the value of plants and renewable materials of agricultural and forestry origin”.

The European Biofuels Technology Platform launched today is intended to provide and implement a common European vision and strategy for the production of biofuels, in particular for transport applications, and be compatible with present-day infrastructures. EuropaBio is a member of BIOFRAC, the Biofuels Research Advisory Council, which has developed the draft vision document for the Biofuels Technology Platform (1).

Biofuels represent the convergence of several existing sectors. Industrial biotechnology provides the conversion processes for biomass, crop biotechnology will increasingly contribute to the sustainable supply of sufficient biomass, and energy companies will provide the route to market. In this respect, we are particularly pleased that two major players in the energy sector - Total and BP - have joined the EuropaBio (2) Biofuels Task Force.

This Biofuels Technology Platform represents yet another key step in the integration of biotechnology into the infrastructure of the European economy and moves us further towards meeting the Lisbon goals. Johan Vanhemelrijck, EuropaBio's Secretary General said “I am delighted that the EuropaBio team and members now have this opportunity to contribute to an important new initiative. We have worked hard to establish excellent working relations with the Commission, and our close involvement with the new Technology Platform on Biofuels is one of the fruits of this. Biotechnology will help to meet Europe's carbon dioxide emission reduction targets, reduce our dependence on oil imports and provide another useful income stream for our farmers. The technology is right on time to help us fulfil the Kyoto targets.”

In welcoming the formation of the new EuropaBio Task Force on Biofuels, Jack Huttner, Chair of EuropaBio's Industrial Biotechnology Council, said “Biotechnology has the potential to enable the sustainable production of the fuels and chemicals advanced economies need to prosper. But, policy sector support is essential for this progress to occur. We are competing with the petrochemical industry that has a 100 year head start on us. We need policy initiatives to level the playing field.”

(1) Biofuels in the European Union - A vision for 2030 and beyond
The BIOFRAC vision document

(2) About EuropaBio
EuropaBio is the European Association for Bioindustries, has 70 corporate and associate members operating worldwide and 24 national biotechnology associations representing some 1500 small and medium sized enterprises involved in research and development, testing, manufacturing and distribution of biotechnology products.

Useful links

About sustainable biofuels - a EuropaBio fact sheet(PDF)

About the bio-based economy

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