January 2008 news

31.01.08 Largest biodiesel plant to be built in Rotterdam

B2G, a joint venture between the Neste Oil Corporation and the Malaysian IOI Group, has applied for a permit to construct a plant in Rotterdam that will produce biodiesel from palm oil. The new plant will generate 1.2 million tons of biodiesel per year, thus becoming the largest plant in the Netherlands. The plant will require an investment of around 550 million euro, and result in 100 jobs at the plant, plus 400 additional jobs at supplying companies.

The biodiesel manufactured by B2G will be based on a technology already patented by Neste Oil. According to the company, this procedure (known as NExBTL) has less environmental impact and produces cleaner biodiesel than that based on existing production methods.

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(source: GAVE News, 30 January 2008)


28.01.08 Polish petrol refineries threatened with disruption

Biofuels producers in Poland have warned they may establish roadblocks outside the PKN Orlen and Lotos petroleum refineries until the refineries purchase biofuels from domestic producers.

The Association of Domestic Distilleries (ZGP), representing 150 producers, says that the refineries contract for more than 60% of their biofuels from outside of the country. The refineries say that EU rules prevent them from giving price preference to local producers.

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(source: Biofuels International, 25 January 2008)


25.01.08 Piebalgs disagrees with House of Commons biofuel report

Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs (European Commission, EC) has issued a statement declaring that he disagrees with the recently published British House of Commons report , which concludes that the total environmental effect of the European biofuel policy is negative. In contrast, according to Piebalgs, significant greenhouse gas reductions are being booked, compared to the alternative, oil.The EC shares the House of Common's concern that biofuels have to be sustainable, and that this sustainability has to be guaranteed by robust sustainability standards and mechanisms to prevent damaging land use change. This is why the proposed new directive for the promotion of renewable energy sources will call for the promotion of only sustainable biofuels, i.e. those that can ensure a substantial CO2 saving compared to the oil that would be consumed instead.

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(source: GAVE-news, 23 January 2008 / EUROPA Rapid 21 January 2008)


24.01.08 New renewable energy directive published by the European Commission

According to the proposed new Renerable 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.

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Download proposed new directive [PDF 204kB]

(source: GAVE-news, 23 January 2008)


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".

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(source: EURActiv, 21/01/08)


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.

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(source: BBC News, 21 January 2008)


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.

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(source: BBC News, 14 January 2008)


16.01.08 Report from 2nd Biofuel Cities Workshop 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 ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability and Sofia Municipality, identified good examples, barriers and challenges that end-users in Southern, Central and Eastern Europe face or will potentially need to consider.The main outcome of these discussions was the development of a list of considerations for the broadscale introduction of biofuels for transport in the region, which are highlighted in the Sofia Workshop report.

Download workshop report [PDF 270 KB]


15.01.08 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.

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(source: Gave News, 14 January 2008)


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.

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(source: EurActiv: Daily Update, 11 January 2008)


10.01.08 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 on Monday in Paris on the occasion of the launch of the first web-debate of the Forum on biofuels. œWe invite all experts and interested persons to participate in the biofuels debate on our website, the results of which will stimulate the discussion at the International Transport Forum, to be held in Leipzig 28-30 May 2008.

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(source: www.internationaltransportforum.org, January 2008)


09.01.08 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.

A team of US researchers 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, they added.

Their paper appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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(source: BBC News, 8 January 2008)


08.01.08 New method for producing more efficient biofuels

Researchers at the UCLA 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 synthesizer. The method could lead to mass production of these biofuels.

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(source: UCLA News, January 2008)