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October 2005
Issue 4

Conference reports

First International Biorefinery Workshop

Samuel Bodman, US Secretary of Energy, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Douglas Faulkner and Wiktor Raldow, Head of Unit for New and Renewable Energy Sources, European Commission.
Samuel Bodman, US Secretary of Energy, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Douglas Faulkner and Wiktor Raldow, Head of Unit for New and Renewable Energy Sources, European Commission.
The first international biorefinery workshop was held on 20-21 July 2005 in Washington, US. The event was jointly organised by the EC Directorate-General for Research and the US Department of Energy. The aims of the workshop were to learn about the state-of-the-art research in the EU and US on biorefinery technologies, and to enhance domestic and international partnerships for the developing and implementing biorefinery technologies. The workshop addressed both technical and non-technical challenges.

More than 300 people from over twenty countries attended the workshop, and there was a strong presence from industry. Participants represented a broad range of sectors, including agriculture, forestry, fuels, chemicals, automotive, petroleum, academia, research, NGOs and government. There were over 70 speakers and moderators involved in two plenary sessions (future transport systems and biorefinery opportunities), as well as eight technical breakout sessions on a wide range of topics. It was evident during the discussions held in the sessions and breaks that the range of expertise present produced a synergy effect.

The US Secretary of Energy, Samuel Bodman, opened the event, and stressed the importance of biomass and renewable energy sources as a means to decrease the present reliance on finite resources such as fossil fuels. Wiktor Raldow presented an overview of the EC's biomass research and development programme – emphasising biorefineries and biofuels – and highlighted the developments of the Biofuel Technology Platform. Douglas Kaempf, head of the US DoE biomass programme, made a complementary presentation outlining the ongoing US work.

Cover "1st International Biorefinery Workshop"
During the workshop, participants exchanged information on successful projects carried out both in the US and in the EU. The strengths of the EU and US were identified; the US has considerable expertise in sugar conversion technologies and the EU has extensive know-how in thermochemical conversion. Although there are inherent differences between the research programmes, it was noted that many of the R&D priorities on both sides are well aligned.

The exchange of information and the dialogue on future collaboration between the United States and the European Commission are seen as important to foster the implementation of biorefinery technologies.

For further information - including final presentations, closing remarks and pictures – visit the website: http://www.biorefineryworkshop.com

EU Green Week

The EU Green Week conference, from 31 May to 3 June 2005, organised by DG Environment attracted thousands of visitors to the Commission's Charlemagne Building in Brussels. It included a session on 'Renewable energy, beyond the experiments', in which the DG RTD New and Renewable Energy Sources Unit participated with a presentation on 'Renewable energy in the EU RTD Framework Programmes'. The other topics covered during the session were 'Photovoltaics for tomorrow' by Wim C. Sinke of ECN, 'New biofuels on the roads' by Gerson Santos of ABENGOA, and 'Researchers’ views on future RTD needs in the area of renewables' by Nicola Pearsall of EUREC. The presentations were followed by animated and constructive discussions between the audience and the speakers, a sure sign of the success of the event.

The Unit's exhibition stand presented EU-funded renewable energy research activities alongside the other stands dealing with environmental issues such as global change and water resources. Almost everyone in the Unit spent at least half a day on the stand. This was an ideal opportunity to hold face-to-face discussions with hundreds of participants interested in how renewable energies can help protect the environment. Videos of research success stories were shown and copies of publications on research into biomass, photovoltaics, other renewables and socio-economic aspects of energy were distributed.

Information Day Organised by DG Transport and Energy

The Directorate-General for Transport and Energy organised an Information Day on 21 September on the Fourth Call for Proposals for short- to medium-term research and demonstration actions in Sustainable Energy Systems. The deadline for the Call is on 22 December 2005 and it has an indicative budget of 125 M€ which will be dedicated to projects on costeffective supply of renewable energies; large-scale integration of renewable energy sources; energy efficiency; polygeneration; eco-buildings and alternative motor fuels. These topics include the next batch of funding under the CONCERTO and CIVITAS initiatives.

Please refer to the following website for further details of the Call:
http://fp6.cordis.lu/fp6/call_details.cfm?CALL_ID=224

IPHE Renewable Hydrogen Workshop

By the time of publication of this newsletter, this International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE) workshop will have taken place in Seville in October 2005. The DG RTD New and Renewable Energy Sources Unit was the main organiser of the workshop, in collaboration with representatives from IPHE member countries and the EU. About 130 experts from around the world were personally invited to present and discuss possible breakthrough solutions for hydrogen production using renewable energy sources. A report on the workshop will appear in the next issue of this newsletter.

More information, please consult the  website

SYNBIOS Conference Second Generation Biofuels

On 17-18 May 2005, the SYNBIOS conference on biofuels was held in Stockholm. The two-day event addressed second generation automotive biofuels, including biofuels produced from the synthesis gas as well as lignocellulosic ethanol. According to recent studies, they have a better energy and environmental balance than conventional biofuels.

Around 200 people attended the conference, representing a wide range of stakeholders including vehicle manufacturers, the biofuel industry, the research community, the forestry industry, the European Commission and local and national Swedish authorities.

The forestry and paper industries were well represented, both as feedstock producers and as energy producers with the potential to diversify products to biofuels and chemicals. On behalf of the European Commission, Wiktor Raldow, Head of Unit for "New and Renewable Energy Sources", presented the latest developments of the Biofuels Technology Platform.

Vehicle manufacturers Volvo and Volkswagen attended the conference, and both companies are involved in research on second generation biofuels. Volvo presented the EC-funded project, AFFORHD, which developed a heavy duty truck optimised for the use of DME. The truck itself was on display during the event. Volkswagen described the integrated project, RENEW, which aims to explore a wide range of pathways to produce second generation biofuels, and which is also supported by the EC. Each company described the role of biofuels in their roadmap of the transition from fossil fuels to sustainable fuels.

The host country of the conference, Sweden, is one of the pioneering countries in the EU both in research and implementation of biofuels. It has a five-year programme to exempt biofuels from both CO2 tax and energy tax. Currently, there are more than 12,000 flexi-fuel cars in the country, and around 5,000 cars and 1,000 buses operating on biogas and natural gas.

World Geothermal Congress 2005

The World Geothermal Congress was held in Antalya, Turkey, on 24-29 April 2005. The event was attended by around 1,350 people from over 80 countries. Some 705 papers were submitted, which reported on activities in 86 countries. At the technical exhibition hall, around 45 organisations were represented, including groups from China, Germany, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Turkey and the United States.

The technical session covered fundamental and applied topics, including drilling and completion technology, reservoir engineering, injection technology, neotectonics, hydrogeology and power generation. The congress also covered horizontal topics, such as environmental and societal aspects, regulatory issues, financing and sustainability.

Keynote speaker Vincent Perez, President of Philippine National Oil Company-Energy Development Corporation (PNOC-EDC) and former Secretary of Energy of the Philippines, described the rise of geothermal electricity in the Philippines, and lauded the co-operation between private investors and public entities. Other keynote speakers included the Turkish Minister of Energy, Hilmi Guler, and the Turkish Minister of the Environment, Osman Pepe, who both stressed the significant role that geothermal energy could play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. On behalf of the European Commission, Alonso Gonzalez Finat, Director in DG Energy and Transport, drew attention to the benefits of developing geothermal energy, in particular in the new Member States, some of which have a high geothermal potential.

The next World Geothermal Congress will be held in Indonesia in 2010.
For further information, please see: http://www.wgc2005.org/

Acknowledgments

RENEWS would like to thank James König and John Garnish for their contribution to this article.

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