Inside this issue

1. Latest Biofuel News

  -  Biofuels and land use

  -  Hungarian biofuel expansion plans hindered

  -  Risk of biofuel crops as invasive species

  -  Enzyme that could produce biofuels from plant waste

  -  Rotterdam biofuels throughput doubled

  -  German biodiesel plants being sold off

2. Policies Update

3. Projects and Activities

4. New Publications and Resources

5. Event Highlights

6. Editorial and Legal Information

1. Latest Biofuel News

31.03.08  Biofuels and land use

In its Fact Sheet on Biofuels and Land Use, the European Association for Bioindustries (EuropaBio) offers some insights on land use issues related to the development of biofuels. The first concerns the use of second generation biofuel feedstocks (non-food based feedstocks, like cellulosic biomass) that have the potential to reduce pressure on food crops and reduce land use. A second insight is about the possibility to increase biofuels production without using more land by increasing land productivity (biomass per hectare) through improved agricultural practices, and improving crop quality (i.e. develop crops with high stress tolerance or those with high fermentable carbohydrates for ethanol production) through modern biotechnology.

The Fact Sheet also stresses the need for "more data and common methodology to measure land-use-change input and agricultural-practice impact on the GHG (greenhouse gas) balance".  >>more

26.03.08  Hungarian biofuel expansion plans hindered

Investors are holding back plans for bioethanol plants in Hungary due to rising feedstock prices. A severe drought, which halved Hungary's maize crop, combined with an increase in global grains prices and concerns that the EU's outline for a higher biofuel mix may be minimised, are distancing investors.

More than 30 new distilleries were planned, but Hungary's bioethanol sector has only two units online.  >>more

25.03.08  Risk of biofuel crops as invasive species

In a recent article from the journal Science, scientists have called on the need to weigh-in the economic benefits of biofuels with the ecological risks associated with the introduction of non-native biofuel crop species into new agricultural landscapes, that is, species invasiveness. Many of the ideal ecological traits for biofuel crops (like high water-use efficiency, C4 photosynthesis, no known pests/diseases, etc.) are said to contribute to invasiveness. The article cites situations where the introduction plant species initially thought of as beneficial have resulted in "long term economic and environmental costs owing to invasiveness". The scientists stressed the need for the establishment of agronomical and ecological analysis to establish the safety of potential biofuel crops.  >>more

20.03.08  Enzyme that could produce biofuels from plant waste

Researchers at the University of Maryland in the USA have developed a new process that could yield as much as 75 billion gallons of carbon neutral biofuel a year from plant waste.  >>more

11.03.08  Rotterdam biofuels throughput doubled

Throughput figures for biofuels in the port of Rotterdam doubled in 2007, compared to 2006. 1.2 million tonnes of biodiesel, as opposed to 250,000 tonnes, were handled, as well as 1.6 million tonnes of bioethanol. This serves to reinforce Rotterdam's position as the most important link between the global and European flows. The Port Authority anticipates a further expansion and deepening of the market.  >>more

03.03.08  German biodiesel plants being sold off

Three German biodiesel plants have been sold to the USA and Canada and the expectation is that this is only the beginning. Since the German government increased the excise duty on biodiesel, only 10% of the country's production capacity is being used.

Although the EU wants to increase biofuel use to stop global warming, Germany has started taxing biodiesel as the government said it cannot afford to lose the large tax revenue from fossil diesel.  >>more

2. Policies Update

19.03.08  European Commission reaffirms commitment to biofuel policy

The European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mariann Fischer Boel, reaffirmed the EU's dedication to biofuels at the World Biofuels Markets Congress held in Brussels on 13 March. She emphasised that biofuels were a significant part of the EU's renewable energies policy and 'an important weapon in the fight against climate change'.  >>more

14.03.08  Denmark sets renewables target at 20% by 2011: biomass, biogas, biohydrogen, wind

The Danish government plans to increase its use of renewable energy to 20% of its overall energy mix by the end of 2011, up from the current 15%. Bioenergy (or biomass, biogas, biohydrogen and wind), already providing more than 70% of Denmark's renewable energy, will provide the bulk of green energy under the plan.

Fostering green vehicles are included as part of the plan. This means that cars running on clean hydrogen fuel will be exempt from taxes while the tax-free status of electric cars will be extended until 2012. In practice, Clean hydrogen means that the energy carrier will be created from biomass resources, because electrolysis based hydrogen is far too costly.  >>more

13.03.08  Green light given for European climate and energy measures

The Ministers of the Environment for the various EU Member States have given the green light to the European Commission's proposal to reduce CO2 emissions over the next few years. The European Commission's ambitious plan should lead to the EU's CO2 emissions being reduced by at least 20% in 2020. The ministers welcomed plans for a Renewable Energy Guideline, which includes criteria guaranteeing that sustainable biofuels will be used.

The ministers were generally positive about the proposal for dividing the effort among the EU Member States and the proposed methodology that will be used.

06.03.08  Biofuel sustainability criteria can work

It is perfectly possible for the EU to develop criteria for biofuels that will avoid the potential negative environmental effects associated with their cultivation and production, experts told a hearing in the European parliament on Tuesday.

But several of the experts recommended replacing the EU's proposed 10% target for biofuel use in 2020 with a target based on overall greenhouse gas savings, dismissing the current proposal as an "arbitrary volume-based target".

Any EU target would also need to be accompanied by a "sound review clause", they added. A special council working group is currently spearheading the development of "core sustainability criteria" for biofuels that will be inserted into two draft EU laws on fuel quality and renewable energy. The criteria will be drafted within a month, and could be added to the fuel quality directive by May, according to Miran Kresal from the Slovenian EU presidency.

04.03.08  EU Member States push for early adoption of biofuel standards

The EU Member states are teaming up with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in pressuring the European Commission to include binding sustainability criteria in a revision of EU-wide specifications for transport fuels.  >>more

26.02.08  Management support tool for biofuels policy making

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN-FAO) announced the development of a "decision-support tool" to help countries derive the benefits of biofuel industry development, without putting food security at risk. According to the FAO press release, the tool is an "analytical framework" and can allow governments venturing into biofuels to "calculate the effect of their (biofuel-related) policy decisions on the food security of their populations".

The three-year project is aimed at making sure that bioenergy does not impair global food security.  >>more

3. Projects and Activities

Highlights of the new projects and activities added to the Biofuel Cities Project Database at

Cities for Mobility (CfM)

Cities for Mobility is a worldwide network of over 400 local administrations, transport companies, private firms, universities and NGOs from 60 countries (membership is free of charge). One of the main targets of the network is the promotion of the direct cooperation between its partners. Under the coordination of the City of Stuttgart the partners develop, apply and disseminate new approaches for sustainable urban mobility.  >>more

(Source: Biofuel Cities Project Database)

Cristal Union - Biofuel production

Cristal Union is a grower-owned cooperatives group, which produces about 18% of the sugar beet acreages in France. Cristal Union focuses on two main activities: production of sugar for industry and traditional sugar; production of alcohol and ethanol (perfume, cosmetics, food, carburation). It has eight production units located in the east and south of France.  >>more

(Source: Biofuel Cities Project Database)

4. New Publications and Resources

New resources that arrived at the editor's desk this month range from a website on biofuels from algae, 'National Algae Association', to a Publication on 'Plants at the Pump - Biofuels, Climate Change, and Sustainability'.

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

5. Event Highlights

07.-08.04.08  Platts Ethanol in Europe, Berlin, Germany

The conference will bring together regulators, academics, and market players to debate the way forward in ethanol infrastructure, blend economics and demand in Europe.  >>more

08.-10.04.08  Russian Biofuel Summit & Expo for Sustainable Biofuel, Biomass & other Renewable Energies, St. Petersburg, Russia

Participants attending this conference will be able to find out where the business opportunities lie and what Russian involvement in biofuels can mean for European biofuels industry in the coming years.  >>more

16.-18.04.08  European Energy Forum 2008, Barcelona, Spain

The Forum will be the third edition of an event that has grown to be a reference point in the energy sector. After the success of the first two events, attendance is expected to be very high. It is estimated that around 3,500 visitors will attend the exhibition to get first hand information about the solutions given by companies in the sector, their products and services, main activities and the latest technological advances.  >>more

6. 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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