28.09.07 EC publishes Green Paper on urban transport
The new Green Paper on Urban Transport, formally presented by the EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot on the 25 September, outlines a large range of potential solutions and areas where the EU could take action in order to tackle the growing congestion, pollution and safety problems in Europe's cities.
The aim behind the Green Paper is to create "free-flowing and greener towns and cities, smarter urban mobility and an urban transport which is accessible, safe and secure for all European citizens". The Paper suggests a number of means to achieve these goals, such as:
- supporting the introduction of clean and energy-efficient vehicles through 'green public procurement', which could mean including life-cycle costs for energy consumption and CO2 and other pollutant emissions in the award criteria in addition to the vehicle's price;
- setting harmonised minimum performance standards for the operation of vehicles.
The launch of the Green Paper marks the start of a new consultation phase and will be discussed by the European institutions. Citizens and stakeholders are invited to share their views with the European Commission (EC) until 15 March 2008. An Action Plan on urban mobility will follow in the early autumn of 2008.
(source: EURActiv, Sept 2007 and European Commission RAPID, Sept 2007)
26.09.07 Biofuel Cities online events centre
To keep you up-to-date with the many conferences, workshops and seminars taking place across Europe, we have compiled a calendar of events for you to plan your attendance and contribute to various debates.
Organising an event? Tell us and our partners about it! Send us the details using and connect to your audience.
24.09.07 Biofuels: the second generation
With ethanol and biodiesel coming under increasing criticism for driving up food prices and putting biodiversity at risk, the EU has committed to second-generation' biofuels as a clean alternative for transportation - but many challenges remain before they find their way into our cars.
According to a UN report on biofuels, "second-generation fuels are made from ligno-cellulosic biomass feedstock using advanced technical processes". Ligno-cellulosic sources include 'woody', 'carbonous' materials that do not compete with food production, such as leaves, tree bark, straw or woodchips. However, in the longer term, many envisage second-generation biofuels being made from materials that are not dependent on arable land, such as algal materials growing in water.
(source: Euractiv, September 2007)
21.09.07 Using maize and grass as energy crops
Research carried out in Belgium (Bioengineering at the Catholic University of Louvain) has shown that using maize and grass as energy crops to feed anaerobic digesters saves a significant amount of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels despite the fact that they need to be transported to the plants by road.
In spite of the fossil energy consumed for their production and transformation to biogas, maize and grass energy crops allow a net production of renewable energy together with a significant reduction in fossil-energy-related CO2 emission. Owing to their high-energy contents, maize and tedded grass can be transported over a certain distance (e.g. to a central anaerobic digestion plant) while keeping the energy and CO2 balance positive. However, increasing the transportation distance decreases the advantage of the energetic and environmental balance.
(source: Environmental Research Web, September 2007)
18.09.07 Link to us!
Help promote the Biofuel Cities European Partnership and at the same time, show that you are actively engaged in advancing the discussion on broadscale use of biofuels for transport by displaying the Biofuel Cities logo on your website.
18.09.07 OECD delivers blow to EU biofuels plans
Government support for biofuels will cause food shortages and lead to the destruction of natural habitats, while making little impact on climate change - this is the warning from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The report from a study carried out by the OECD delivers a severe blow to EU plans to obtain 10% of its transport fuel from plants by 2020.
The OECD expresses grave concerns about the social and environmental effects of biofuels and, according to the recent report, in the 'best-case scenario' biofuels will only be able to achieve a 3% reduction in energy-related CO2 emissions by 2050, thus failing to reduce petroleum fuel consumption.
The EU is promoting the use of biofuels as an alternative energy source for transport. In 2003, it set itself an indicative target of increasing the use of biofuels in energy consumption to 5.75% by 2010. But a 2007 progress report shows that it will likely only achieve a 4.2% biofuels share in that year. Therefore, the Commission proposed in its 2007 "Energy Package" to step up its effort and demanded a mandatory target of 10% by 2020.
(source: EurActiv, September 2007)
17.09.07 Volvo launches biofuel trucks
Exhibited in Stockholm, Sweden, for the first time at the end of August, Volvo Group displayed seven FM trucks equipped with Volvo’s own 9-litre engines that have been specially modified by the Group’s engineers to illustrate the possibilities of carbon dioxide-free transport.
“Volvo is part of the climate problem, but today we have shown that carbon dioxide-free transport is a possibility and that we, as a vehicle manufacturer, both can and will be part for the solution to the climate issue,” says Leif Johansson, CEO of the Volvo Group.
Concerning the current shortage of both biomass for the production of renewable fuels, and finished fuels, the Volvo Group does not view CO2-free transport as a utopian idea. One of the reasons for this is the second generation of renewable fuels that are produced through gasification and that generate both large volumes and a greater number of fuels to choose between.
The trucks exhibited in Stockholm were operated on the seven following renewable fuels/fuel combinations: biodiesel, biogas, DME, ethanol/methanol, synthetic diesel and, hydrogen gas and biogas.
(source: GAVE-news, Sept 2007/ Transport News Network)
14.09.07 'Seeing is believing' - join study visits in Stockholm
Visits to Stockholm from foreign delegations of politicians, civil servants and journalists have been frequent during the last year. Many want to see and hear about the trend towards biofuels and clean cars in Sweden with their own eyes and ears - and on site.
The visits provide participants with hands on experience of fuelling the cars at a filling station, riding in an ethanol bus and driving FFVs, for instance. The tours are being organised as part of the European BEST project - Bioethanol for Sustainable Transport.
In the end of 2005 the Clean Vehicle Fleet in Stockholm amounted to over 10.000 vehicles, both private and public, and with a developed and rapidly growing refuelling infrastructure with around 40 fuelling stations for bioethanol in the Stockholm Region.
About BEST: The project Bioethanol for Sustainable Transport deals with the introduction and market penetration of bioethanol as a vehicle fuel, the establishment of infrastructure for supply and fuelling of bioethanol, the introduction and wider use of ethanol cars and flexible fuel vehicles on the market. For more information visit: www.best-europe.org
(source: BEST Newsletter #1)
13.09.07 Tax cuts in Germany hamper biofuels success
Germany's biodiesel production capacity was set to rise to a record 5 million tonnes in 2007, but has now been undermined after the industry failed to block the government from reversing a tax relief scheme in July. Biodiesel industry sources in Germany estimate that only about half the 5 million tonne capacity will be used in 2007 following a dip in demand after taxes on biofuels were introduced. The government implemented the tax in response to a ruling by the European Commission that Germany's tax relief scheme overcompensated biofuel producers.
"The biodiesel industry has peaked; capacity has grown very quickly and outstripped production and now some companies might even go bankrupt as the industry consolidates", Norbert Allnoch, director of the International Economic Platform for Renewable Energies, an independent research body located in Munster, says.
On 1 January 2007, the government introduced legislation for all fuel companies to add 5% biodiesel to conventional diesel sold, easing the simultaneous imposition of the tax of €0.47 on every litre of biodiesel.
Estimations show that the interest in biofuels saved Germany from emitting almost 13 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2006.
(source: Biofuels international-news, August 2007)
12.09.07 Tax relief for biofuels in the UK
The UK Government intends to introduce new regulations for biofuels production, relieving small biofuels producers of tax duty. The changes will affect those which produce less than 2,500 litres annually, and will take effect from 30 June 2007.
The regulations will also reduce how frequently large producers must submit tax returns from monthly to quarterly. Currently, UK law requires biofuel producers to pay duty of £0.28 (€0.42) on every litre they produce, hold a permit and submit returns to the UK tax office.
There are 1,400 producers of biofuels in the UK, a large proportion of which produce biofuels for their own usage. After a year of monitoring, the Government will deliberate whether to raise the threshold further.
(source: Biofuels international-news, September 2007)
11.09.07 Brewing up biofuel in Scotland
In Scotland, scientists at the University of Abertay Dundee, Scotland, are looking into the possibilities of using residues from beer breweries and whisky distilleries to produce bioethanol.
The project will look into new methods of turning spent grain into bioethanol, a more environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels. Scientists all around the world have been trying to find a simple and cost-effective way to produce more biofuels from waste or low value products. This will be the focus of the year-long Dundee project, led by Professor Graeme Walker.
(source: CORDIS-news, August 2007)
06.09.07 Report from 1st Biofuel Cities Study Tour now available
A group of interested biofuel end-users participated in the 1st Biofuel Cities study tour, organised on 21 May 2007, to show some excellent examples of biofuels in use in Stockholm. The participants represented local governments, as well as commercial fleet owners and research institutes.
Stockholm is an advanced community in the field of biofuels, with interesting projects and activities. The participants learned about flexi-fuel vehicles, the local approach to building research and production facilities, and the development of an extraordinary market demand in Sweden. Site visits included an E85 fuelling station and a public transport bus depot.
A particular highlight ‘in action’ was learning how the City of Stockholm approached the BEST project - ‘BioEthanol for Sustainable Transport’. This project deals with the introduction and market penetration of bioethanol as a vehicle fuel, as well as the introduction and wider use of flexible fuel vehicles and ethanol cars on the market. More details are available in the Workshop Report and the BEST website. Please also note that study tours in Sweden can be arranged through the BEST project.
05.09.07 Dutch government's plans to make polluting cars pay!
Parking fees to park cars that pollute the atmosphere (e.g. diesel cars and SUVs) are to be increased. In contrast, parking will become less expensive for those cars that have less impact on the environment, for instance, cars that run on biofuels. Two Dutch Ministries (Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment - VROM - and the Home Office) are working on a legislative proposal which will allow Dutch local authorities to differentiate between parking tariffs.
The latest advanced parking meters allow cars to be charged according to their licence plates. Via the Internet, these new machines can be coupled to the database used by the Government Road Transport Agency, which contains information on all vehicles in The Netherlands.
If the Dutch parliament approves the plan, the new legislation is expected to come into force in 2008.
(source: GAVE-news, August 2007)
04.09.07 Polish and Austrian Ministers support pure vegetable oil powered tractors
Pure vegetable oil is one of the most promising of all renewable fuel sources. Particularly in agricultural transport and other agricultural applications, pur vegetable oil could play a key role in future farming strategies.
Supported by the Polish and Austrian Agricultural ministers, a consortium of 7 organisations - from industry and agricultural, including The Netherlands Standardisation institute - have submitted a proposal to leverage experiences from former research and development projects on rapeseed oil powered machinery into future emissions regulations.
Download press release [PDF 10KB]