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    The second European Summer School on Renewable Motor Fuels will be held in Warsaw, Poland, from 29 to 31 August 2007. The goal of the event is to disseminate the knowledge generated within the EU-funded RENEW (Renewable Fuels for Advanced Powertrains) project and present it to the European academic audience and stakeholders. Topics on the agenda include generation of synthetic gas from biomass and gas cleaning; transport fuel synthesis from synthetic gas; biofuel use in different motors; biomass potentials, supply and logistics, and technology, cost and life-cycle assessment of BtL pathways. Cordis News - March 27, 2007.

    Green Swedes want even more renewables, according to a study from Gothenburg University. Support for hydroelectricity and biofuels has increased, whereas three-quarters of people want Sweden to concentrate more on wind and solar too. Swedes still back the nuclear phase-out plans. The country is Europe's largest ethanol user. It imports 75% of the biofuel from Brazil. Sveriges Radio International - March 27, 2007.

    Fiat will launch its Brazilian-built flex-fuel Uno in South Africa later this year. The flex-fuel Uno, which can run on gasoline, ethanol or any combination of the two fuels, was displayed at the Durban Auto Show, and is set to become popular as South Africa enters the ethanol era. Automotive World - March 27, 2007.

    Siemens Power Generation (PG) is to supply two steam turbine gensets to a biomass-fired plant in Três Lagoas, 600 kilometers northwest of São Paulo. The order, valued at €22 million, was placed by the Brazilian company Pöyry Empreendimentos, part of VCP (Votorantim Celulose e Papel), one of the biggest cellulose producers in the Americas. PRDomain - March 25, 2007.

    Asia’s demand for oil will nearly double over the next 25 years and will account for 85% of the increased demand in 2007, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) officials forecast yesterday at a Bangkok-hosted energy conference. Daily Times - March 24, 2007.

    Portugal's government expects total investment in biomass energy will reach €500 million in 2012, when its target of 250MW capacity is reached. By that date, biomass will reduce 700,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. By 2010, biomass will represent 5% of the country's energy production. Forbes - March 22, 2007.

    The Scottish Executive has announced a biomass action plan for Scotland, through which dozens of green energy projects across the region are set to benefit from an additional £3 million of funding. The plan includes greater use of the forestry and agriculture sectors, together with grant support to encourage greater use of biomass products. Energy Business Review Online - March 21, 2007.

    The U.S. Dep't of Agriculture's Forest Service has selected 26 small businesses and community groups to receive US$6.2 million in grants from for the development of innovative uses for woody biomass. American Agriculturalist - March 21, 2007.

    Three universities, a government laboratory, and several companies are joining forces in Colorado to create what organizers hope will be a major player in the emerging field of converting biomass into fuels and other products. The Colorado Center for Biorefining & Biofuels, or C2B2, combines the biofuels and biorefining expertise of the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, the Colorado School of Mines, and the Colorado-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Founding corporate members include Dow Chemical, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Shell. C&EN - March 20, 2007.

    The city of Rome has announced plans to run its public bus fleet on a fuel mix of 20 per cent biodiesel. The city council has signed an accord that would see its 2800 buses switch to the blended fuel in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution. A trial of 200 buses, if successful, would see the entire fleet running on the biofuel mix by the end of 2008. Estimates put the annual emission savings at 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. CarbonPositive - March 19, 2007.

    CODON (Dutch Biotech Study Association) organises a symposium on the 'Biobased Economy' in Wageningen, Netherlands, home of one of Europe's largest agricultural universities. In a biobased economy, chemistry companies and other non-food enterprises primarily use renewable materials and biomass as their resources, instead of petroleum. The Netherlands has the ambition to have 30% of all used materials biobased, by 2030. FoodHolland - March 19, 2007.

    Energy giants BP and China National Petroleum Corp, the PRC's biggest oil producer, are among the companies that are in talks with Guangxi Xintiande Energy Co about buying a stake in the southern China ethanol producer to expand output. Xintiande Energy currently produces ethanol from cassava. ChinaDaily - March 16, 2007.

    Researchers at eTEC Business Development Ltd., a biofuels research company based in Vienna, Austria, have devised mobile facilities that successfully convert the biodiesel by-product glycerin into electricity. The facilities, according to researchers, will provide substantial economic growth for biodiesel plants while turning glycerin into productive renewable energy. Biodiesel Magazine - March 16, 2007.

    Ethanol Africa, which plans to build eight biofuel plants in the maize belt, has secured funding of €83/US$110 million (825 million Rand) for the first facility in Bothaville, its principal shareholder announced. Business Report - March 16, 2007.

    A joint venture between Energias de Portugal SGPS and Altri SGPS will be awarded licences to build five 100 MW biomass power stations in Portugal's eastern Castelo Branco region. EDP's EDP Bioelectrica unit and Altri's Celulose de Caima plan to fuel the power stations with forestry waste material. Total investment on the programme is projected at €250/US$333 million with 800 jobs being created. Forbes - March 16, 2007.

    Indian bioprocess engineering firm Praj wins €11/US$14.5 million contract for the construction of the wheat and beet based bio-ethanol plant for Biowanze SA in Belgium, a subsidiary of CropEnergies AG (a Sudzucker Group Company). The plant has an ethanol production capacity of 300,000 tons per year. IndiaPRWire - March 15, 2007.

    Shimadzu Scientific Instruments announced the availability of its new white paper, “Overview of Biofuels and the Analytical Processes Used in their Manufacture.” The paper is available for free download at the company’s website. The paper offers an overview of the rapidly expanding global biofuel market with specific focus on ethanol and biodiesel used in auto transportation. It provides context for these products within the fuel market and explains raw materials and manufacturing. Most important, the paper describes the analytical processes and equipment used for QA testing of raw materials, in-process materials, and end products. BusinessWire - March 15, 2007.

    Côte d'Ivoire's agriculture minister Amadou Gon has visited the biofuels section of the Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris, one of the largest fairs of its kind. According to his communication office, the minister is looking into drafting a plan for the introduction of biofuels in the West African country. AllAfrica [*French] - March 13, 2007.

    Biofuels and bioenergy producers in Ireland, a country which just recently passed bioenergy legislation, are allocated excise relief for imported biomass. Unison Ireland (subscription req'd). - March 13, 2007.

    EDF Energies Nouvelles, a subsidiary of energy giant Electricité de France, has announced a move into biofuels, by sealing a preliminary agreement with Alcofinance SA of Belgium. Upon completion of a reserved issue of shares for €23 million, EDF Energies Nouvelles will own 25% of a newly formed company housing Belgium-based Alcofinance's ethanol production and distribution activities. Alcofinance's projects are located in the Ghent Bioenergy Valley. BusinessWire - March 13, 2007.

    Fuel Tech, Inc., today announced a demonstration order for its 'Targeted In-Furnace Injection' program, part of a set of technologies aimed at controlling slagging, fouling, corrosion, opacity and acid plume problems in utility scale boilers. The order was placed by an electric generating facility located in Italy, and will be conducted on two biomass units burning a combination of wood chips and olive husks. BusinessWire - March 9, 2007.

    At a biofuels conference ahead of the EU's Summit on energy and climate change, Total's chief of agricultural affairs says building environmentally friendly 'flexible-fuel' cars only cost an additional €200 (US$263) a vehicle and that, overall, ethanol is cheaper than gasoline. MarketWatch - March 8, 2007.

    During a session of Kazakhstan's republican party congress, President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced plans to construct two large ethanol plants with the aim to produce biofuels for exports to Europe. Company 'KazAgro' and the 'akimats' (administrative units) of grain-growing regions will be charged to develop biodiesel, bioethanol and bioproducts. KazInform - March 6, 2007.

    Saab will introduce its BioPower flex-fuel options to its entire 9-3 range, including Sport Sedan, SportCombi and Convertible bodystyles, at the Geneva auto show. GreenCarCongress - March 2, 2007.

    British oil giant BP plans to invest around US$50 million in Indonesia's biofuel industry, using jatropha oil as feedstock. BP will build biofuel plants with an annual capacity of 350,000 tons for which it will need to set up jatropha curcas plantations covering 100,000 hectares of land, to guarantee supply of feedstock, an official said. Antara [*cache] - March 2, 2007.

    The government of Taiwan has decided to increase the acreage dedicated to biofuel crops -- soybean, rape, sunflower, and sweet potato -- from 1,721 hectares in 2006 to 4,550 hectares this year, the Council of Agriculture said. China Post - March 2, 2007.

    Kinder Morgan Energy Partners has announced plans to invest up to €76/US$100 million to expand its terminal facilities to help serve the growing biodiesel market. KMP has entered into long-term agreements with Green Earth Fuels, LLC to build up to 1.3 million barrels of tankage that will handle approximately 8 million barrels of biodiesel production at KMP's terminals on the Houston Ship Channel, the Port of New Orleans and in New York Harbor. PRNewswire - March 1, 2007.

    A project to build a 130 million euro ($172 million) plant to produce 200,000 cubic metres of bioethanol annually was announced by three German groups on Tuesday. The plant will consume about 600,000 tonnes of wheat annually and when operational in the first half of 2009 should provide about a third of Germany's estimated bioethanol requirements. Reuters - Feb. 27, 2007.

    Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs has announced that government vehicles in Taipei City will begin using E3 fuel, composed of 97% gasoline and 3% ethanol, on a trial basis in 2007. Automotive World - Feb. 27, 2007.

    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.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bioplastics developed that degrade in seawater, boon to cruise industry

Earlier we referred to so-called "mermaid's tears" (picture), fine petroleum-based plastic particles that pollute our oceans and enter the food chain (earlier post). So what about bioplastics that degrade in seawater and become food instead of poison for marine life? Scientists from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) announce that they have developed such plastics.

Large volumes of plastic waste generated aboard military, merchant and cruise ships must be stored onboard, often for prolonged periods, until they make port. In the future, the new type of environmentally friendly plastic may make it safe and practical to toss plastic waste overboard, freeing-up valuable storage space.

The biodegradable plastics could replace conventional plastics that are used to make stretch wrap for large cargo items, food containers, eating utensils and other plastics used at sea, the researchers say. The biodegradable plastic has not yet been tested in freshwater. The development was described today at the 233rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

“There are many groups working on biodegradable plastics, but we’re one of a few working on plastics that degrade in seawater,” says study leader Robson F. Storey, Ph.D., a professor of Polymer Science and Engineering at USM, located in Hattiesburg, Miss. “We’re moving toward making plastics more sustainable, especially those that are used at sea.”

Conventional plastics can take years to break down and may result in byproducts that are harmful to the environment and toxic to marine organisms, conditions that make their disposal at sea hazardous. The new plastics are capable of degrading in as few as 20 days and result in natural byproducts that are nontoxic, Storey and his associates say. Their study is funded by the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), which is supporting a number of ongoing research projects aimed at reducing the environmental impact of marine waste.

The new plastics are made of polyurethane that has been modified by the incorporation of PLGA [poly (D,L-lactide-co-glycolide)], a known degradable polymer used in surgical sutures and controlled drug-delivery applications. Through variations in the chemical composition of the plastic, the researchers have achieved a wide range of mechanical properties ranging from soft, rubber-like plastics to hard, rigid structures, depending on their intended use:
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When exposed to seawater, the plastics degrade via hydrolysis into nontoxic products, according to the scientists. Depending on the composition of the plastics, these compounds may include water, carbon dioxide, lactic acid, glycolic acid, succinic acid, caproic acid and L-lysine, all of which can be found in nature, they add.

Because the new plastics are denser than saltwater, they have a tendency to sink instead of float, Storey says. That feature also could prevent them from washing up on shore and polluting beaches, he notes.

The plastics are undergoing degradation testing at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center in Natick, Mass., and in the Gulf of Mexico at the USM Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, Miss. Initial results have been favorable, Storey says.

The plastics are not quite ready for commercialization. More studies are needed to optimize the plastics for various environmental conditions they might encounter, including changes in temperature, humidity and seawater composition, Storey says. There also are legal hurdles to overcome, since international maritime law currently forbids disposal of plastics at sea.

: BBC correspondent Tom Heap shows examples of "mermaids' tears".

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Environmental Power announces first delivery of pipeline-quality biogas

Already practised in Europe on a relatively large scale (overview), feeding biogas into the natural gas grid is now a fact in the US too. Environmental Power Corporation today announced that its subsidiary, Microgy Holdings, LLC, has achieved the initial delivery of pipeline quality renewable natural gas from the Huckabay Ridge facility in Stephenville, Texas (picture).

The facility is able to generate biogas from manure and other agricultural waste streams, condition the biogas to natural gas standards and distribute it via a commercial pipeline. Microgy's has branded, the renewable, pipeline-quality biomethane product as 'Renewable Natural Gas'.

At full build out, Huckabay Ridge may be the largest biogas production facility in the world, with annual output of approximately 650,000 MMbtus of RNG per year - the equivalent of over 4.6 million gallons (17.4 million liters) of heating oil.

In addition to energy production, Huckabay Ridge is also expected to generate approximately 200,000 tons of carbon offset credits annually, based on existing Chicago Climate Exchange protocols. Greenhouse gas capture is a rapidly growing environmental concern that is being supported by numerous State initiatives, including California and the Northeast, and is attracting significant attention among federal legislators pursuing restrictions that limit carbon output and create a market for trading carbon capture "credits". The carbon credits, which have a value of approximately $4.00 per metric ton in today's voluntary carbon credit market, are expected to increase in value as a binding cap and trade system evolves in the U.S.

Currently six of Huckabay Ridge's eight digesters are producing biogas, and are in varying stages of start-up and operation, with the remaining two digesters beginning start-up:
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Biogas has now been processed through the on- site gas-conditioning and compression equipment and, once the commissioning process is finalized, Huckabay Ridge is expected to be generating RNG(TM) at full capacity later this spring. The RNG(TM) produced by the facility has been purchased by the Lower Colorado River Authority pursuant to a previously announced long-term purchase agreement through September 2008.

"While making initial deliveries of gas into the pipeline is not the conclusion of the startup process, it is a critical first milestone. Now the process shifts to demonstrating fully reliable operation. I am very confident in the Microgy team and their consultants and fully expect that they will be able to achieve this important objective in time to meet our projected commercial operation date."

"The experience of the start-up of Huckabay will be invaluable in our project rollout at the other large-scale facilities under development in Texas, California and other key markets," continued Mr. Kessel. "Our standardized modular plants will enable us to implement numerous large-scale RNG facilities rapidly and in a cost-effective manner."

To date, there are no projections on the overall potential of biogas in the US. In Europe, a recent estimate indicates that by 2020, the continent can replace all natural gas imports from Russia (earlier post).

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Biodiesel in Haïti supporting sustainable agriculture

In a courageous effort, a French group has started producing biodiesel in Haïti, one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere. Years of mismanagement, political instability, and economic decline have led the hilly island state to the brink of environmental collapse. Haïti is plagued by degradation on an unprecedented scale, with virtually all forest gone, and with devastating floods, heavy soil erosion and declining agricultural yields as a result (a good overview of this dramatic situation can be found in Jared Diamond's book Collapse, part three of which has a chapter on the causes of Haïti's environmental disaster.)

Biodiesel Haïti is now trying [*French] to restore the damaged landscape by planting Jatropha curcas shrubs, the oil-rich seeds of which can be used for the production of biodiesel. The perennial crop is easy to establish, requires relatively few inputs and its roots keep soil and water together, preventing erosion. The shrub also makes for a good support in intercropping systems: Jatropha provides shade to legumes which fix nitrogen.

For six months, the French group has been operating in the country. Rachel Noël, one of its managers explains that biodiesel can contribute to sustainable development in Haïti, a country plagued by high fuel prices which limit its economic recovery.

Speaking to Radio Métropole, Mme Noël indicates that the tropical island has an ideal climate for the production of biofuel crops, but that the public at large is not well informed about the potential yet.

Jatropha is known locally as "gro medsiyin" [note: 'medsiyin' is creole for 'medicine', referring to the beneficial properties traditionally ascribed to the nuts of the tree]. The crop can restore damaged soils, Mme Noël explains, adding that her company includes expert agronomists.

The company has recently launched a sensibilisation and information campaign, aimed at convincing smallholders as well as large land holders to grow jatropha.

Biodiesel Haïti stresses that its future biodiesel plants will be implanted in provincial towns, in order to provide jobs and stay close to locally produced crops. "We want to build small local industries around biodiesel, because the fuel's production results in byproducts that can be used in the local economy, such as glycerine". Glycerine can be used for a variety of products, but its first application will be the production of soap. The press cake from the jatropha seeds makes for a fertiliser or a feedstock for combustion or biogas production:
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Mme Noël further notes that other perennials, like ricin or coconut can be utilised for biodiesel, but Jatropha remains the favorite because production costs are low and it thrives in poor soils.

According to the spokesperson, Biodiesel Haïti can currently produce 480,000 gallons of biodiesel per year. The group hopes to convince the government to craft legislation promoting the use of biofuels in the country.

According to the GTZ data on international fuel prices, Haïti's retail fuel prices are not excessively high, and, using the 'egg index', local purchasing power levels make fuels relatively affordable (earlier post - see 2005 report). However, the country's energy intensity is high and therefor its economy is relatively sensible to increases in the price of fossil fuels. This is why locally produced biofuels make particular sense in the island state.

Image: Haïti's landscape; once covered in lush tropical rainforest - as it can still be seen in the Dominican Republic, which is part of the same island of Hispaniola - it has now changed beyond recognition. Restoration efforts are underway, but local pressures on the environment are still very high, with Haïti's people stripping the last bits of forest for energy.

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Grow it yourself: the biodegradable, plant-based car is here

Quicknote bioeconomy
Several projects are underway to build genuinely green cars that not only run on biofuels, but that are made from plant-based parts as well. Who needs oil when you can go 'bio' all the way? A 'Biocar' project was launched recently in Canada, whereas in the US a conglomerate of research organisations is working on a similar 'AgriCar', which will be made out of bio-based products for 90%. Bioplastics, biopolymers, biocomposites, biolubricants, biofuel-cells, and biofuels are coming together in the cars of the future (earlier post).

Or of the present. Researchers at the University of Warwick recently presented their first environmentally-friendly racing car with tyres made from potatoes and brake pads from cashew nut shells.

'Eco One' is the idea of WMG, a provider of innovative solutions to industry based at the University of Warwick. Mind you, it's not the sexiest car yet, but it does impress when it comes to speed. The biocar will take you to 125mph (201km/h). And the plant-based components handle it well.

Besides being made from biodegradable parts, the racing car also runs entirely on biofuels and bio-lubricants.

Project manager Ben Wood said he has tweaked the original engine and claims he can achieve up to 150mph (241km/h) given a long straight and a tailwind. He said: "Almost everything on the car can be made out of biodegradable or recyclable materials. All the plastic components can be made from plants and, although the chassis has to be made from steel for strength, steel is a very recyclable material."

Wood added: "we already have the shell, brake pads, fuel and tyres sorted. My aim is to end up with a race car that's 95 per cent biodegradable or recyclable. If we can build a high-performance car that can virtually be grown from seed, just imagine what's possible for the average family car."

The cars of the future will be grown on farms, and be recycled into biofuels, or put back into the soil after their useful life, when they become fertilisers for new cars. That's the 'cradle-to-cradle' vision behind the projects [entry ends here].
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Brazilian biofuels update

Yesterday's announcement of a 30 year ethanol supply agreement between Brazilian producer Sao Martinho and Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation (earlier post), was echoed today by a cooperation agreement between a major northeast Brazil sugarcane group, Farias, who signed a protocol of intentions with a handful of Chinese investors to build ethanol mills that could process up to 10 million metric tons of sugarcane per harvest. Meanwhile, more details have emerged on the partnership between Italy and Brazil, in which both countries plan to kickstart a biofuel industry in Africa, starting with Angola and Mozambique, two countries with a very large bioenergy potential. Finally, during his visit with President Bush later this weekend, President Lula will urge the US to reform its tariff and subsidy rules on biofuels. Like Prodi, the two leaders will discuss collaboration on biofuel projects in Africa.

China enters Brazil
According to a report referred to in Valor Economico, the investments could hit 1.2 billion Brazilian reals (€436/US$582 million), with two greenfield projects currently being analyzed in the northeast state of Maranhao.

The Chinese companies interested in investing in Brazilian ethanol mills reportedly are Jilin Fuel Ethanol - a joint venture between the China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), China Resources Enterprises Ltd and Jilin Grain Group -, Henan Tianguan, Anhui Fengyuan Bio-Chemical, and Heilongjiang China Resources Jinyu, who together produce 1 billion liters of ethanol per year.

The Farias group - with headquarters in the key northeast cane state of Pernambuco - currently has five operational mills, and a new Goias mill expected to enter operation for the 2007-08 harvest. The group crushed roughly six million metric tons of cane last season.

By 2010, the Farias group plans to hit a crush capacity of just under 15 million metric tons, and by 2015, it expects to process 32 million ton of cane.

Italy to cooperate, focus on African countries
Meanwhile, Italian Premier Romano Prodi is visiting with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and both will try to strike a partnership on producing ethanol and biodiesel. Details about the deal which also includes cooperation on biofuels in Africa (earlier post), have now emerged.

After meeting with the powerful Sao Paulo Federation of Industries on Monday, Prodi announced that Brazilian and Italian energy companies will likely build four biodiesel plants in Brazil at a cost of €360/US$480 million.

The premier, who will meet with Silva in the capital of Brasilia today, did not mention any possible ethanol projects, but the Brazilian president said on his biweekly radio program that "Italy is willing to engage in a partnership with Brazil in the area of ethanol and biodiesel production to help African countries."

Prodi also said he thought a deal would be reached to name Angola as the first African country where the nations will team up on biodiesel. Angola has a very large sustainable bioenergy potential (earlier post). Petrobras downstream director Roberto Costa said Eni officials also showed interest in the construction of biodiesel and ethanol plants in Mozambique, an equally promising country (earlier post):
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European Union leaders have agreed to produce 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources such as cane ethanol by 2020, and Italy does not have the capacity to do that alone, Prodi said.

Italy's move to renewable fuels requires structural changes, making Brazil an obvious ally, Prodi said. The partnership between Brazil's state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA and Italian energy company Eni SpA will focus on biodiesel plants in Brazil and Africa to export the fuel to Italy, a Petrobras executive said last week.

The Italian government has a stake of about 30 percent in Eni, while the Brazilian government owns 60 percent of Petrobras.

US - Brazil cooperation in Africa, tariffs
Brazilian President Lula da Silva is visiting the US this weekend, and plans to talk with Bush about the possibility of a joint Brazil-U.S. effort to help poor African countries start producing biodiesel and ethanol. Brazil already has a dedicated task-force in Accra, Ghana, to promote the biofuel industry on the African continent (earlier post)

The Brazilian leader will meet with Bush Saturday, less than a month after the American president visited Silva in Brazil, where the two forged an ethanol alliance aimed at promoting the fuel and reducing international dependance on fossil fuels.

Bush and Silva argued earlier this month that alternative fuels lead to more jobs, a cleaner environment and greater independence from the oil market. In Brazil, nearly eight in 10 new cars already run on fuel made from sugar cane. Ethanol in the United States is made from corn.

The U.S. and Brazil also want to create global ethanol quality standards so the fuel can be traded as a commodity, like oil.

But Brazil and the U.S. remain at odds over the 54-cent-a-gallon U.S. tariff on imports of Brazilian ethanol. Lula da Silva didn't mention the tariff during his bi-weekly radio interview at home, but he expected to bring it up during his visit.

The tariff discussion is part of a larger debate on World Trade issues, in particular the attempts to revive the stalled Doha Round.

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US and EU to partner on commoditisation, standardisation of biofuels

Concerns over energy security and climate protection have positioned biofuels at the forefront of political agendas worldwide. Produced from organic matter such as wood by-products and agricultural crops, biofuels are renewable energy products that can be converted into gas for use as fuel. Large-scale commoditization of biofuels could diversify the energy infrastructure, improve energy security and bring about a host of economic, social and environmental benefits.

The United States and the European Union have expressed strong interest in making biofuels a commodity for trade. Compatible standards will be among the chief topics of discussion at the upcoming EU-US Summit in Washington, DC, which intends to launch a new trans-Atlantic economic partnership aimed at harmonizing regulations, technical standards, environmental protection and trade security.

Last week an EU delegation led by the Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, alongside German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier representing the current EU Presidency, and High Representative Javier Solana attended a meeting bringing together US and European scientists, financiers and entrepreneurs to launch a US-EU Energy Tech CEO Forum to intensify Trans-Atlantic energy technology development (earlier post).

In advance of the upcoming Washington Summit, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have invited key U.S. stakeholders to participate in a March 28 meeting to develop input related to biodiesel and bioethanol standardization issues. Input developed will be used to inform the U.S. delegation to the EU-US Summit, as requested by the U.S. Department of State. Participation in this pivotal event is free and open to all stakeholders with an interest in biofuels:
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The meeting agenda will open with a brief overview of recent events that have helped to propel biofuels-related issues to the top of domestic and international trade discussions, including the International Conference on Biofuels Standards, the launch of the new U.S.-Brazil agreement on biofuels, and the formation of the International Biofuels Forum—a six-party initiative between the United States, Brazil, China, South Africa, India and the European Union (earlier post). Participants will then engage in an open discussion of key issues leading to the formulation of formal action items and next steps.

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