The European Parliament’s Environment Committee wants European Union (EU) ...

The European Parliament’s Environment Committee wants European Union (EU) rules to insist that biofuel production is environmentally sustainable, reports Keith Nuthall. The call was made in amendments tabled to European Commission (EC) proposed reforms to the EU Fuel Quality Directive that insist such fuels are formulated so that less carbon dioxide (CO2) is generated. The Committee wants emissions reduced by at least 2% every two years from 2012 to 2020, rather than by 1%/y from 2011 as proposed by the Commission. Meanwhile, the parliament’s Industry Committee has proposed a special derogation from the anticipated EU CO2 cap, allowing vehicles with special safety features to emit more CO2. It argues that additional safety equipment can be heavy, forcing cars to emit more CO2 to attain their standard performance. In other EU news: *The Portuguese Presidency of the EU called for compromise proposals on the EC’s energy unbundling plans, under discussion at a Council of Ministers meeting on 3 December 2007. A paper released by Lisbon clarified the split between member states - supporting the proposal were Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Finland, Romania and Sweden; opposing were France, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg and Slovakia. *Draft fees for registrations and authorisations under the REACH chemical control system have been released: the highest - securing authorisation for substances that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or damage reproduction - €50,000. For basic registration for substances produced or imported in small quantities - between one to 10 tonnes - the fee would be €1,600. It would be €4,300 for 10 to 100 tonnes; €11,500 for 100 to 1,000 tonnes; and €31,000 for above 1,000 tonnes. *The EC has released its long anticipated plan for promoting research and development of low carbon technologies - visit http://ec.europa.eu/energy/res/setplan/communication_2007_en.htm for details. *The European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD) is lending $92mn to Azerenerji JSC to rehabilitate the AzDRES oil and gas power plant, the largest power plant in Azerbaijan, with a capacity of 2,400 MW. *A comprehensive set of energy statistics have been released by the European Commission - for details, visit http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/energy_transport/figures/pocketbook/doc/2007/2007_energy_en.pdf and http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/energy_transport/figures/pocketbook/doc/2007/2007_energy_ext_renewables_gross_electricity_generation_en.pdf *The EC has called for proposals for €1.75bn of research project grants under the EU’s seventh framework programme for research, including studies on biofuels, Russian energy cooperation and global warming - visit http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/dc/index.cfm *Concentrations of low-level ozone and particulate matter have not improved in Europe since 1997 despite substantial cuts in emissions of air pollutants across the continent, according to a European Environment Agency (EEA) report - http://reports.eea.europa.eu/eea_report_2007_2/en/Air_pollution_in_Europe_1990_2004.pdf *EU Ministers are to ensure they have maximum influence over agenda and proposals for meetings of the ruling Ministerial Council of the European Energy Community linking Balkans utilities to the EU. In new guidelines, such meeting plans will be prepared well in advance, with EC officials consulting closely with EU Energy Ministers. The EU will spend up to €2.5mn in 2008 on the Community. *An EU research project, FELICITAS, is developing fuel cell technology able to drive heavy road vehicles, trains and boats - for details, visit http://www.mc-wap.cetena.it/objectives.htm *And a new EU-funded research on pre-combustion carbon capture technologies for gas- and coal-fired power plants is getting underway - the four-year DECARBit project (http://www.sintef.no/) *The UK, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Malta and Portugal are being threatened with legal action by the EC for failing to implement EU laws mandating penalties for tankers and other ships polluting the sea. *Germany’s capacity to produce electricity from geothermal sources has surged ahead over the past two years said an EU geothermal energy barometer report. German geothermal power production capacity has risen from 0.2 MWe to 8.4 MWe between 2005 and 2007. Overall EU capacity rose from 854.6 MWe in 2006 to 862.8 MWe.

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