Inside this issue

1. New renewable energy directive published by the European Commission

2. Belgium earns money with non-existing biofuels

3. Report from 2nd Biofuel Cities Workshop now available!

4. Online debate on biofuels

5. Around the world in 65 days

6. Joint venture to grow marine algae for conversion into biodiesel

7. Policies Update

8. Project & Activities

9. New Publications and Resources

10. Event Highlights

11. Editorial and legal information

1. New renewable energy directive published by the European Commission

According to the proposed new Renewable Energy Directive made public this week by the European Commission, EU Member States will be given a new and binding target (to be met by 2020) to replace 10% of their transport fuels with biofuels. In contrast to the previous Directive (2003/30/EC), the proposed directive sets minimum criteria for the sustainability of biofuels. According to the proposed directive, the minimum requirement for reducing greenhouse gas emissions via biofuels will be 35%. Biofuels that do not meet these criteria will not be counted towards the national target and/or requirement for biofuels, and also ineligible for financial support schemes. In the case of biofuels and other bioliquids the criteria would apply to all installations that are operational on or following the 1 January 2008. For installations commissioned before this date, the minimum criteria will apply from 1 April 2013.

Not only must greenhouse gas emissions meet minimum criteria, preconditions have also been proposed for the type of land on which biomass may be cultivated. These sustainability criteria will apply to biofuels for transport as well as bioliquids in the heating or electricity sectors. >>more

2. Belgium earns money with non-existing biofuels

Belgian motorists are paying over 35 million Euro too much excise duty to the government because biofuels are only available at a few locations. This has been calculated by Het Nieuwsblad.

Since 1 November 2006 motorists have been paying over one cent per litre extra for biodiesel, but this fuel is only available at a few filling stations. Bioethanol is not available anywhere, although consumers have been paying extra excise duty for this since 1 October 2007. >>more

3. Report on biofuels for Southern, Central and Eastern Europe now available!

35 participants from 13 European countries attended the 2nd Biofuel Cities end-user workshop at Sofia City Hall, Bulgaria. The workshop, organised by Sofia Municipality and ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, identified good examples, barriers and challenges that biofuel end-users in Southern, Central and Eastern Europe face or will potentially need to consider. The main outcome of these discussions was a list of considerations for the broadscale introduction of biofuels for transport in the region, which are highlighted in the Sofia Workshop report. >>more

4. Online debate on biofuels

"The subject of biofuels needs an open discussion about their environmental and economic impacts. Billions of Euros for subsidies, rising food prices, use of land, fertilisers and water are all critical issues", said Jack Short, Secretary General of the International Transport Forum (ITF) on Monday in Paris on the occasion of the launch of the first web-debate of the Forum on biofuels. Experts and interested persons are invited to participate in the online biofuels debate taking place now on the website of the ITF, the results of which will stimulate the discussion at the International Transport Forum, to be held in Leipzig 28-30 May 2008. >>more

5. Around the world in 65 days

The environmentally-friendly speedboat Earthrace aims to do 26,000 miles in 65 days running on biofuels in order to break the present circumnavigation record which stands at 74 days, 23 hours and 53 minutes by Cable and Wireless Adventurer, a British boat which ran on conventional fuel in 1998.

"The record is just a small part of the package," skipper Pete Bethune from New Zealand said. "We need to make people aware that biofuels need to be part of our transport energy mix and people should support them should they become available." >>more

6. Joint venture to grow marine algae for conversion into biodiesel

Shell and Hawaii-based algae biofuels company HR Biopetroleum have formed a joint venture to grow marine algae for conversion into biodiesel.

The joint venture, Cellana, will construct a pilot facility on the Kona coast of Hawaii Island. This will grow non-modified, marine microalgae species in open-air ponds using proprietary technology. Once the algae is harvested, the vegetable oil will be extracted, and the biodiesel produced will be used for testing purposes. >>more

7. Policies update

22.01.08  EC defends biofuels in the face of mounting criticism

Following a growing chorus of criticism over the promotion of biofuels for use in the EU's transport mix, the EU is standing firm behind its commitment to biofuels in its transport mix.

In a statement published on the 21 January, the EU reaffirms that "the key contribution of biofuels to the sustainability of the transport sector should not make us forget its other benefits which are as important as the environmental ones, namely: reducing our dependency on imported oil; providing a development opportunity for poor countries and paving the way for second-generation biofuels". >>more

21.01.08  Call to abandon EU biofuel targets

The UK's Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) - made up of British MPs - says biofuels are ineffective at cutting greenhouse gases and can be expensive. In its report “Are biofuels sustainable?” the EAC concludes that the EU should not have pursued targets to increase the use of biofuels in the absence of robust sustainability standards and mechanisms to prevent damaging land use change.
In a draft, the EU admits that the current target of 5.75% biofuels on the roads by 2010 is unlikely to be achieved. But it maintains its target of 10% road biofuel by 2020. >>more

17.01.08  Revision of EU biofuels guidelines

Europe's environment chief has admitted that the EU did not foresee the problems raised by its policy to get 10% of Europe's road fuels from plants.
Recent reports have warned of rising food prices and rainforest destruction from increased biofuel production.

The EU has promised new guidelines to ensure that its target is not damaging.
EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said it would be better to miss the target than achieve it by harming the poor or damaging the environment. >>more

14.01.08  NGOs lobbying for stricter regulation of biofuels

A group of NGOs have written to EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, calling on him to introduce much tougher standards for biofuel production or give up mandatory transport biofuel targets altogether. The warning came ahead of the publication of new legislative measures aimed at promoting the use of these alternatives to oil. >>more

8. Projects and activities

Highlights of the new projects and activities added to the Biofuel Cities Project Database at this month include.

23.01.08  CNG buses in Szeged, Hungary

This pilot project deals with the public bus fleet of Szeged and comprises of 41 CNG buses in total. The annual mileage per bus varies between 60,000 and 80,000 km. The buses operate in an urban environment serving as a public transport fleet. Procurement of CNG buses started in 1996 and was continued until 2006. >>more

(Source: Biofuel Cities Project Database)

22.01.08  CNG vehicles for parcel delivery used by DHL in Germany

DHL operates 170 EEV (Environmentally Enhanced Vehicles) for parcel delivery in 19 German cities. In Germany about 2.8 million parcels are delivered by DHL (the logistic brand of Deutsche Post AG) every day. Since 2005 CNG delivery vehicles with the highest environmental standard EEV were introduced in cities with high environmental impacts, caused e.g. by road traffic. >>more

(Source: Biofuel Cities Project Database)

22.01.08  SMILE: Suceava, Romania

The objectives of the SMILE project are to improve urban air quality and to create a sustainable, safe and flexible traffic system that improves the quality of life in two project "leading" cities, Malmö (Sweden) and Norwich (UK), and in three "follower" sites, Tallinn (Estonia), Suceava (Romania) and Potenza (Italy).>>more

(Source: Biofuel Cities Project Database)

08.01.08  Study on biofuel generation from fast-growing grass

Producing biofuels from a fast-growing grass delivers vast savings of carbon dioxide emissions compared with petrol, a large-scale study has suggested. The team of US researchers that carried out the study also found that switchgrass-derived ethanol produced 540% more energy than was required to manufacture the fuel. One acre (0.4 hectares) of the grassland could, on average, deliver 320 barrels of bioethanol per year, they added. >>more

(Source: Biofuel Cities Project Database)

01.02.08  New method for producing more efficient biofuels

Researchers at the UCLA (University of California) Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a new method for producing next-generation biofuels by genetically modifying Escherichia coli bacteria to be an efficient biofuel synthesiser. The method could lead to mass production of these biofuels. >>more

(Source: Biofuel Cities Project Database)

9. New publications and resources

New resources that arrived at the editor’s desk this month range from websites and online information such as the Ukrainian Biofuel Portal,  to presentations such as 'Mapping regional biofuel production potential, the case of Cyprus' and publications like 'Biodiesel, Handling and Use Guidelines' - a guide for those who blend, distribute, and use biodiesel and biodiesel blends.

All resources can be accessed through the Biofuel Cities Resource Database at Access to the Resources Database is for Biofuel Cities European Partnership participants only.

10. Event highlights

28.01-01.02.08   EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) 2008, Brussels, Belgium

The EU Sustainable Energy Week 2008 will be the key meeting place for anyone interested in sustainable energy in Europe. From 28 January to 1 February 2008 dozens of conferences, workshops, seminars and media events will be organised both in Brussels and in other cities across Europe. >>more

07-10.02.08   Bioenergy World Europe 2008, Verona, Italy

Bioenergy World Europe is a leading focal point for the European bioenergy community, showcasing real business opportunities for the entire bioenergy value chain. Staged within the context of Fieragricola - a major international agricultural exhibition - Bioenergy World Europe 2008 provides a rich international business meeting opportunity for the bioenergy industry. >>more

27-28.02.08   Biomass and bioenergy 2008, Tallinn, Estonia

Estonian Fair Ltd invites you to take part in the international fair and conference "Biomass & Bioenergy 2008". The conference is an initiative of the Estonian Ministry of Agriculture and will take place at the Estonian Fairs Centre in Tallinn, Estonia. The conference is one of the support structures for the 'Development plan for the promotion of the use of biomass and bioenergy for the years 2007-2013', that was approved by the Government of the Republic of Estonia on the 25 of January 2007. >>more

11. Editorial and legal information

The Biofuel Cities Update is a monthly e-newsletter that aims to keep you informed of developments in the field of biofuels and in the Biofuel Cities European Partnership.

The Biofuel Cities European Partnership is a forum for the application of biofuels. Open to all stakeholders in the area of biofuels for vehicles, it offers access to the information and exchange portal; workshops and study tours; news, publications and tools. The Partnership is supported by the European-Commission funded Biofuel Cities project. Participation in the Biofuel Cities European Partnership is free. To join more than 850 peers or to find out more, visit or write to

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Published by the ICLEI European Secretariat GmbH

Editors: Stefanie Lay (responsible) / Amalia Ochoa

Copyright © 2008 ICLEI European Secretariat GmbH, Freiburg, Germany

We welcome you to reproduce and / or translate any part of Biofuel Cities Update for further dissemination purposes, providing source is acknowledged.


This publication is part of the activities of the Co-ordination Action Biofuel Cities European Partnerships Consortium. The Coordination Action is funded by the Sixth Research Framework Programme of the European Union, under the Activity "Alternative Motor Fuels: Biofuels Cities".

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Neither the European Commission nor the Co-ordination Action Biofuel Cities European Partnerships Consortium nor any person acting on behalf of these is responsible for the use which might be made of this publication.

The views expressed in this publication are the sole responsibility of the source/author specified and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission nor the Co-ordination Action Biofuel Cities European Partnerships Consortium.
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